The inaugural Millets Fest, a unique celebration of heritage, cuisine and music from Goa, Gujarat, and Punjab, was held in Leicester on August 9, 2023.
This vibrant event brought together communities, cultures and flavours in a colourful display of unity.
AT THE FEST
The festival showcased the rich traditions of these regions, captivating the senses with a blend of tantalising aromas, melodious music, and interactive workshops.
Attendees were treated to an exclusive workshop led by Usha Shah, a native of Gujarat, who demonstrated the art of crafting delectable hot bajra chapatis, an age-old specialty.
Adding to the culinary adventure, Gemma Fernandes, born in Leicester but with roots tracing back to Divar island in Goa, delighted taste buds with her rendition of tizann, a Goan delicacy made from ragi (nachne).
Representing the three states in India, we had Steve White MBE in conversation with Kashmira Singapuri. Originally from Gujarat, the pioneering science teacher spoke about her commitment to championing Space Science for girls and women. She is now focusing on developing a space science curriculum.
He then spoke to Harpreet Sangha, a young Punjabi dedicated to community work and very proud of his heritage.
And lastly, we had Zoya Shaikh, a young hard working community leader talking about her upbringing in Goa and now helps her father Tahir Xec run the very successful Paul's Fish and Chip shop in Leicester.
VIP GUESTS & MORE
The event was graced by the presence of Steve White MBE, the event coordinator, who warmly welcomed attendees. An esteemed guest, former bureaucrat Elvis Gomes, journeyed all the way from Goa to share insights into Goan heritage.
Gomes spoke eloquently about the ghumot, a cherished Goan musical instrument, and the gurguret, a traditional water container made of mud. He also highlighted the vibrant Goan community in the UK.
Marius Fernandes, the festival's curator and driving force behind this event, expressed his joy at the resounding success of the Goa, Daman and Diu Fest held in Leicester the previous week. He emphasized the central theme of the Millets Fest, which aimed to position millets as the food of the future.
Marius further announced plans to extend the reach of this culinary movement, revealing a partnership to send millets to Uganda with the assistance of Dhiru Shah.
Beautiful hand-crafted flowers designed by a Goans, John and Maria Fernandes, originally from Curtorim, were given to the guests.
The event concluded with Marius expressing heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees for their support and participation. He expressed his hope that this people-centered festival would continue to thrive, fostering cultural exchange, culinary exploration and shared experiences in the years to come.
This event aimed to create a platform for cross-cultural exchange and appreciation, while also highlighting the importance of millets in the future of food sustainability.