Mei Ram-ew, a little-known ethnic food festival of Meghalaya, introduced only in 2010, has found place in Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guide publication, with the tourism industry in the hill state expecting increased tourist flow to the state.
“It is indeed great news that Lonely Planet has classified it as one of the top five must-see festivals of Northeast India. The Mei Ram-ew festival next year will be held at an international plane in Meghalaya and we have already started getting enquiries from several countries,” said Phrang Roy of North-East Slow Food and Agro-biodiversity Society (NESFAS), which had promoted Mei Ram-ew as the first slow-food festival of the Northeastern region.
Roy said the Mei Ram-ew has drawn its inspiration from the global slow food movement and is modelled on the lines of the global Terra Madre festivals. “We have been focusing on promotion of various forest-foraged and locally-grown foods that are displayed, cooked and served by indigenous communities of the Northeast. The festival also includes activities like tasting workshops of indigenous food varieties, cooking demos, and talks on culinary aspects of foods like millets,” he added.
Roy pointed out that Lonely Planet had recently listed five “must-see” festivals of Northeast India, with Mei Ram-ew festival of Meghalaya finding a place among them. The other four “must-see” festivals listed in Lonely Planet are Hornbill Festival and Loinloom Festival (both of Nagaland), Sangai Festival and Chumpha Festival (both of Manipur).
First organized in 2010, the festival has been showcasing different aspects of food in Meghalaya in the past four years. “In 2010 for instance, we focused on the unique traditional cuisines of the state. In 2012 on the other hand we put up recipes of over 200 edible indigenous plant species,” Roy informed.
Arrival of foreign tourists to Meghalaya has increased by about 27 per cent in 2013 in comparison to the previous year, the rate of increase being the same for the entire Northeastern region too. Individually, however, Manipur had registered the highest growth of 154 per cent between 2012 and 2013, followed by Arunachal Pradesh (111%), Tripura (51%) and Nagaland (33%). While 66,302 foreign tourists visited the Northeastern region in 2012, the number further increased to 84,820 in 2013.