January 4, 2013 by Parthajeet
“I am going to eat a wedding”, said Rekha, as I saw her rush towards her car. It was 5 pm and already pitch dark, almost like midnight. A reported cold wave had descended and with the temperature close to single digits, Rekha wanted to get inside her car quickly as sartorial demands of the wedding kind had her expose her midriff and her back.
I was in Guwahati during Christmas in 2012, the capital city of the eastern Indian state of Assam, where the run rises and sets 90 minutes earlier than in Mumbai on the west. Assam is the only region on earth where, when translated to English, one goes to eat a wedding. People don’t go to attend weddings or birthdays but to eat such events; so much is the importance of feeding guests ingrained into Assamese culture. The correlation between hunger and eating is an unheard of thing in these parts. If you visit someone’s house, rich or poor, anytime during the day or night, chances are that you will not be allowed to leave without being served platefuls of Assamese delicacies. It is almost considered rude to entertain someone with only tea and no accompaniments.
By nature, the Assamese have been very hospitable; and feeding someone is an extension of this trait. It is no surprise that today the youth from this region can be found doing extremely well in the hospitality sector across India.
So if you have friends or family to visit in Assam, be prepared to be flooded with multiple invitations to lunch, dinner, high tea and about every imaginable snacking opportunity. In the past I had unsuccessfully used methods like saying I was on a fast or I had a bad tummy. On my recent trip, I tried something different. I carried a plastic snack box and politely asked for some of the goodies to be packed for eating later. No one seemed to mind as long as I didn’t leave it behind. I am munching on some delicious ‘pithas’ as I write this; I collected enough to last me a month in four days.