India is known for its rich and diverse culinary culture. Given the diversity in soil type, climate and farming, food heritage of the communities varies significantly and influenced by the locally available foods. Food as medicine is not something new to us; the basics of using certain foods to treat some illnesses have been well documented in our ancient texts. Our ancient wisdom on the medicinal and nutritional value of food, which has been a part and parcel of our culinary practice, needs to be preserved and passed on to the future generations.
Small millets are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. They are small-seeded grasses that are hardy and grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops, under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Small millets are also unique due to their short growing season. Small millets, as a group includes finger millet (ragi), kodo millet (varagu), little millet (samai), foxtail millet (thinai), barnyard millet (kudiraivaali) and proso millet (Panivaragu). These tiny millets are known for their superior nutritional properties, including high micronutrient and dietary fiber content, and low glycemic index, when compared to rice and wheat. They are known for both preventive and curative medicinal properties.
Once celebrated as native food, these small millets disappeared from our diets due to many reasons. These small millets were labeled as poor man’s food while rice and wheat were considered superior. This low social status pushed these small millets to become rare foods. Also, changes in our culinary culture due to influence of fast food and foreign foods on our children and youth are the reasons for the sorry state of our local, traditional and healthy foods including small millets.
This short film contest is aimed at challenging the food culture today and reviving the legacy of our native food, by way of promoting image of small millets based traditional foods.
Madurai Symposium since its inception in 2003 has emerged as development knowledge place where various stakeholders’ people/community institutions, civil societies, Government, NGOs, Banks, donors, philanthropies and academia share, learn from each other’s experience and practices and looks at opportunities for collaborative endeavors. The theme of the Symposium – 2017 is ‘Building Resillence for Sustaining Development’. Embracing the theme of Small Millets - Our Food! Our Pride!, the 11th edition of the Festival focuses on showcasing the productions of film makers from all over the world made on the themes relevant to any of the following areas of Small Millets - Our Food! Our Pride!. Read more about the Symposium at www.maduraisymposium.net