On Saturday, October 27, I was invited by ITC Maratha in Mumbai for a very unique ceremony of “motichoor mixing”. The concept intrigued me, as it had never been heard of before and I wondered what awaited me at the hotel. Since the moment I had received the invitation, I kept wondering what would make a luxury property host something so out-of-the-box, and how people would react to it. The ceremonious event incidentally happened just five days after the cake mixing ceremony, which is a common tradition across the world.
Catherine, the hotel’s coffee shop, had been transformed into a venue that seemed perfect for a mehndi ceremony – decked up in beautiful yellow and orange marigold, with the sun’s rays seeping in from the large French windows that overlooked the expansive garden. There were also chaat and mithai counters, with people thronging around them. But what caught my eye was the large table, filled with motichoor drenched in desi ghee. That aroma and the sight was hard to ignore, and sure enough, brought a smile to every Indian’s face present there. This was going to be great, and I knew it then.
When I spoke to Mr. Kuldeep Bharti, GM of ITC Maratha, I complemented him on this unique idea, which had evidently caught the fancy of more people than the cake mixing did. He informed me about how they conceptualised and implemented this in the time frame of just two days, on realising how little was being done to usher in the festivals of India. This struck a chord.
A few days back, a friend and I got into a discussion that led to the realisation of how little our generation (and the coming generations) know about our culture and traditions. Considering how most of our traditions have been passed down orally by our grandparents, with very little being documented, there is a chance that there will come a time when all would be lost. There will be no bigger tragedy than losing one’s cultural heritage, let’s accept that. In an attempt to ensure that all’s not lost to time and age, it is imperative that one makes an attempt to look at the old through a new glass. It is here that ITC Maratha managed to fill in the gap by being a bridge that connects generations with something like “motichoor mixing”. What I witnessed in the event was a great sense of community bonding, anecdotes being shared and curious little kids who wished to be part of this ceremony and wanting to learn about the significance of making laddoos during Diwali. That’s half the battle won, I’d say.
The motichoor mixing comprised cardamom powder, pumpkin seeds, whole cardamom seeds, and assorted dry fruits. The mixing is essentially a family affair, where the women of the house have typically participated to keep up the vibrance and spirit of the festive season. Hence it was of no surprise that most of the women who too part in it stayed back for the longest span of time, honing the art of perfection of rolling a laddoo. It was heartwarming to see ITC’s efforts towards “responsible luxury” giving rise to such a prolific community effort – one that every single person who attended it cherished thoroughly.
**Another initiative that I have to mention here is by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal in the form of Indian Food Observance Days (IFOD). Through this initiative, she has encouraged Indians to come together on social media (and off it too), to celebrate the food and culinary history of our country through posts, photos, discussions and meetings. If you wish to be a part of this, all you need to do is follow her on Instagram or Facebook, or just become part of the IFOD group.