Where: – Plaza Del Pueblo, Bunol, Valencia, Spain.
On the last Wednesday of August, the tiny Spanish town of Bunol gets converted into a ferocious battleground of world’s most bizarre battle- ‘The battle of Tomatoes’! This is the battle wherein, more than 35000 warriors descend upon each other with their solitary weapon- a squashed tomato! This is the war that lasts only for an hour or two & ends on a happier note. Although the battleground gets stained with the red splashes, the warriors are seen singing, clapping, dancing & screaming out loudly to express their joy & zest. This is the battle, wherein nobody gets hurt & everyone eagerly waits for the next year to battle out once again with more revelry!
And yes, we are talking about the world’s most famous & the grandest food fight festival- ‘La Tomatina’!
Why They Celebrate?
It was all started with a small brawl among the town boys! Although, there exist several tales which depict how this festival was started, one of the most famous anecdotes addresses towards a brawl that took place in the town square during ‘Giants & Big Heads Figures Parade’.
An over-enthusiastic group of young friends had accidently made a musician of the parade to topple from the stage. That incident resulted in the reckless scuffle among the group of youth & the stage artists. The incident took the ugly turn & nearby vegetable stalls fell prey to the wrath of agonized brawlers. Both the gangs attacked each other by pelting tomatoes until the local police intervened in the action to set the messed up parties apart.
However, the battle of ripened tomatoes was enjoyed so much by both, the brawlers as well as by onlookers; it was repeated once again in the subsequent years on the same day, i.e. on the last Wednesday of August. The town of Bunol thus, saw the conception of a brand new, revolutionary movement that flourished rapidly & sooner, grabbed the attention of the several fanatic revelers from all round the world.
Today, several replicas of this ‘sweet-n-sour’ festival are being organized all round the world, although none of them ever managed to match up with the fun & flair of the original manifestation!
Spanish government did try to ban this festival on several occasions due to its sensitive nature, but the stern supporters had forced the officials to uplift the ban on this festival. This fun festival has received several accolades from all over the world due to its youthful & energetic appearance & attracts around 40000 to 50000 revelers every year from every corner of the globe!
How They Celebrate?
The answer to the above question can be given in a single sentence- ‘By pelting squeezed tomatoes at each other’!
This surreal fete begins at around 11 am when many trucks & lorries hauls the extravagant bounty of over-ripe tomatoes & unload at the center of the town- ‘Plaza del Pueblo’. ‘Extremadura’ is the place that supplies whopping 40 metric tons of tomatoes harvested exclusively for this festival.
Climbing up a two-storey tall, thick grease clad wooden pole to snatch the ham tucked at its top is considered as the official starting point of the event. Several young folks battle out to grab the prized piece of ham only to slide down the pole from its highly slippery surface. The festival begins as soon as somebody snatches the bounty. However, the impatient revelers cannot hold their nerves too long for the festival to begin as the activity of snatching the ham may take several hours.
The firing of the water cannons boasts the start of the great battle & the crazy crowd gets crazier while aiming each other with handful of nicely squeezed red fruit. Local lads shower the revelers using water hoses to add the deftness in the atmosphere. This extravaganza lasts for about an hour & comes to an end with another shot of water cannon.
Soon after ceasing of battle, fire trucks enter the square with the powerful water hoses to clean the squashed & trampled tomato pulp, which makes the town streets to flood with free-flowing tomato juice. The cobbled streets of Bunol start sparkling after cleaning as the acid in tomato pulp thoroughly cleanses the surface.
Ironically, the local authorities do not seem to be concerned about cleaning the revelers. Most of the revelers prefer making their way to the Bunol River to rinse off the tomato pulp while few of the fortunate guys receive hose shower from the generous locals!
The stern rules of this fun-fiesta assure that no ugly incident shall take place to stain this spectacular jamboree. Bringing the bottles & other objects are strictly prohibited. Moreover, squashing of tomatoes before throwing & paving a way to pass the lorries are also recommended. Although, ripping of clothes is prohibited, people never mind their loved once do it with them!
La Tomatina is the only battle in the world that spreads the idea of love & fraternity instead of abhorrence. It makes the people scream with joy than to mourn with sorrows & may be because of that, this unique festival is considered as the pride of Spain & the gem of the festivals!