Festivals! Festivals! Festivals are considered as the most fragrant part of any culture, community and country. Most of them have some religious significance and rituals to follow. But! Have you ever heard one meant purely for fun? Celebration by throwing tomatoes and getting involved in this tomato fight is the only ritual of ‘La Tomatina’ that is held in Spain on the last Wednesday of August month. It is held during the last week of festivities of Bunol, a town located 30 kilometers from Mediterranean. An approximated amount of 150,000 i.e., 40 metric tons of tomatoes is used in this one hour tomato fight.
The history of the festivity goes far back to 1945. However, it was in the year 1957 only that the ‘La Tomatina’ was made official owing to certain rules and restrictions. Thereafter, the rules have gone through a lot of alterations over the years. No theory precisely justifies the origin of the world’s biggest food fight. But the most popular about how tomatina started is of fight between some young adults during a carnival in 1945. It is believed that they wanted to be in the event so staged an altercation in town’s main square, the Plaza de Puebla. They used tomatoes as weapons to attack each other as there was a vegetable stand nearby. Whatever happened to begin tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated year after year. Soon it became very popular, more and more participants were getting involved every year. But it was unofficial and was banned after a few years with threats of serious penalties. After the ban tomato funeral was celebrated by some young people by carrying a big tomato in a coffin and funeral marches were played by bands. Finally, on large demand it was made official in 1957 and it was in 1980 that the responsibility of organizing the event was taken by the town hall.
The festival begins with the firing of water shot in the air and then several trucks make their entry and throw abundant tomatoes in the town square. The whole town is colored red and rivers of tomato juice flows freely. After exactly one hour the firing of second shot signals the end of fight. This tomato comes from Extremadura (a part of western Spain) where they are cheap and are grown specifically for holidays. Goggles and gloves are recommended for participants. The mandatory instructions for the participants are follows
- The tomatoes have to be squashed before throwing to avoid injuries.
- No other projectiles except tomatoes are allowed.
- Participants have to give way to trucks and Lorries.
- The festival doesn’t allow ripping of T-shirts.
- After the second shot indicative of ending the tomato hurl the tomatoes should be thrown.
Now, the town hall of Bunol has limited the fight to 20,000 participants which includes 5000 locals and 15000 foreigners. The entry charge has been fixed as ten euro per person. If one wants to be part they have an option of some organized trips to ‘La Tomatina’ which includes entry to fight and more.