La Tomatina is a popular food and fun festival in Spain. It has a history dating 70 years back with people splashing ripe tomatoes at each other to celebrate the World's largest food fight festival.
Every year during the last Wednesday of the month of August the festival is organized by the State. Almost approximately 100 metric tonnes of tomatoes are supplied from the Extremadura region of Spain for this occasion. The messy tomato fight festival entertains about 22,000 participants age 18 years and above.
Tourists from all over the country and the locals assemble every year to indulge themselves in this massive tomato pestering festival. It is said that tomato possesses several benefits essential for the human body. It acts as an anti-oxidant and purifies the skin. It even acts as a disinfectant and reduces dryness.
The festival is held in a small town called Bunol in Valencia region of Spain. At around 10 AM in the morning, a pole greased up and with ham hanging at the top is brought at the festival premises amongst the crowd. The objective of the activity is to encourage the crowd in climbing up the pole and retrieve the ham first. As the enthusiastic ones huddle up to reach the top of the pole, the viewers sing aloud and cheer them up. Well, there is more to it with hosepipes splashing huge amount of water on the visitors drenching them completely and preparing them for the tomato fight.
Once the ham is retrieved, a siren loud and clear is signaled initiating the arrival of six trucks packed with the tomatoes. The tomatoes are literally poured over the participants thus instigating one and all to start pestering each other with the red ripe tomatoes. In seconds the entire area is drowned with red pulps and juice all over like a tomato pool. It is fun to watch people of all genders smeared with the tomato pulp and dancing and jumping on the tomato pool. The tomato puree totally drenches every one present in the ground and it turns on chaotic as time passes with more and more people hurling tomatoes at each other. The entire town is almost painted in red.
The tomato fight lasts for a maximum one hour. A similar siren loud and clear is signaled to end the activity. Showers of water and hose water pipes are sprayed to clean the roads of the tomato pulp. The streets turn out clean essentially due to the acidic properties of tomato. Well, the visitors either get cleaned up by water showers sprayed on them by the locals or from the nearby river.
It is advisable to wear covered shoes to prevent injury while attending the festival. People generally use goggles to protect their eyes. It is also sensible to smash the tomatoes in hand then throw so as to prevent hard-hitting others. It is better to wear some old worn-out clothes so you can discard them completely after the fight is over.
Though the festival happens for one hour and for one day, the entire week is celebrated extensively with music, dance, street fun parades, fireworks, and shows. Several competitions are also held for engaging the participants.
There is no authentic story behind the origin of the festival. The most popular one among the locals states that in 1945 on a day which was last Wednesday of August, a brawl happened between a group of youngsters and few people who were participating in a street parade or show. The collision led to the throwing of vegetables mostly tomatoes at each other.
Many tourists specifically visit Spain during August to be a part of La Tomatina festival and engage in fun and frolic.
Featured image photo courtesy : tomatofestivalsspain