Foods are part of preserving our various cultures – First Lady – at inaugural Choka Fest
Georgetown, GINA, October 20, 2013
Guyanese were this evening provided the opportunity of sampling a wide variety of chokas and the organisers of the event, the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC), and the Indian High Commission were congratulated by First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar for organising the first local Choka Fest, which she deemed an important event that was also attended by President Donald Ramotar.
“ As we all know, Guyana is a multi ethnic society with our people having their origins in various continents of the world, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, all of which have very rich cultures and traditions. Having come to these shores, our ancestors transported their various customs and traditions so today they have all become part of our people’s cultural values,” she said at the event held at the Indian Cultural Centre, Bel Air.
“Our diverse ethnicity provides us with a very rich unique culture,” said Mrs. Ramotar. Food is one of the central parts of all cultures, “because it is around food that we gather and we exchange ideas. Once there is a gathering of a few people food always comes into play. We are fortunate that all of our people of Guyana enjoy food that originated from the land of their fore parents and our unique food is that which makes us uniquely Guyanese”.
She is of the belief that as part of preserving Guyanese identity and cultural heritage, it will be important to record the history, the stories of Guyanese forparents .
” Today choka, especially coconut and baigan (boulanger) choka is a national dish. It is prepared by all our people and enjoyed by all,” the First Lady noted.
She reminded attendees that there was a time when coconut choka was what the poor ate because coconut was readily available and provided flavour for all foods. Guyana is developing, she said, and not only is the local diet richer but, also Guyanese tastes are becoming sophisticated, enabling them to enjoy foreign food.
“As this happens there is longing for food in the yesteryear from what we believe were simpler times, and what we find is that things like coconut choka have re-emerged into the main stream as high demand items”.
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Puran Mal Meena highlighted that with the arrival of the indentured immigrants to Guyana, they have contributed to the great development of the country since the sugar industry days, and have maintained the multi cultural structure.
Guyanese, he said wherever they are in the diasporas, make their country proud because of their hard work .
The event was coloured with numerous cultural performances such as dances and songs from various groups.
The choka fest was a unique food festival, where patrons savoured aloo (potato), coconut, baigan (egg plant), tomato and fish chokas.
Also present at the fest were Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud, Executive Member of the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) Neaz Subhan, members of the diplomatic corps and cultural groups, among others.