Have you watched the Hindi movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? Well, if you have watched it, then you must be knowing that it is like playing Holi with tomatoes. La Tomatina is a festival that is celebrated in the Valencian town of Bunol. Bunol is a town that is located in the East of Spain 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the Mediterranean, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes. Since 1945 it has been held on the last Wednesday of August, during the week of festivities of Buñol.
The following instructions are followed for the safety of the participants :
- Throwing bottles or hard objects is not allowed.
- Tearing or throwing of tee-shirts is not allowed.
- Squash tomatoes before throwing them to avoid hurting others
- Maintain a safe distance from trucks
- Do not throw tomatoes after the second starter pistol shot
- Follow the directions of security staff.
Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.Prior to 2013 anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 (reported to be 50,000 in 2012) people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Bunol’s normal 9,000 person population. Since 2013 official ticketing has been in place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people.
At around 11am many trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the centre of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive. Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top. In practice this process takes a long time and the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize. The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself.
After an one hour the fighting ends. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct. The authorities seem more concerned with cleaning the town than cleaning the visitors, so some people find water at the Bunol River to wash themselves, although some kind residents will hose passers-by down. Once the tomato pulp is flushed, the ground is clean due to the acidity of the tomato.
If you plan to visit Spain, then do visit Bunol at the time of the La Tomatina Festival and experience it !