METRO PLUS

High on German spirit

Opening the bottle and the fest

Opening the bottle and the fest  

Oktoberfest in Bangalore had plenty of dancing, drinking, eating, and merrymaking — befitting the beer capital.

THERE WERE surely not six million people guzzling down beer, but Bangalore had its own share of beer drinkers who collected together at the Taj for the Oktoberfest 2002, on October 31 and November 1. The fest that was sponsored by UB Kingfisher and the Taj Residency saw close to 10,000 Bangaloreans letting their hair down. There was plenty of dancing, drinking, eating, and merrymaking.

The original Oktoberfest, that spreads over 16 days in Germany, has become a hugely commercial orgy of brewery tents, food vendors, brass bands, costumes, and carnival rides. Approximately seven million litres of beer are consumed and sloshed about during a 16-day period. Besides quenching their thirst and inebriating them, the over seven million visitors also feast on thousands of sausages and rolls.

The German Oktoberfest has an interesting history behind it. According to the Munich Tourist Board, Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the happy royal event at festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates. This proved so much fun that the party endured for 16 days. The fields have been named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields") in honour of the Crown Princess, and the locals just call it "Wies'n". Horse races in the presence of the Royal family marked the close of the event, which was treated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria.

The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest, but are no longer part of it today. Small beer stands were replaced in 1896 by tents from the breweries. Later, a livestock show and a carnival with carousels were added.

Bangalore's Oktoberfest was, of course, merely an occasion to celebrate and bring out another beer for Bangalore's great beer drinkers. Says Ramesh Vishwanathan, GM, Marketing, UB Group: "The launch of Kingfisher Premium Oktoberfest Commemorative Beer Bottle will be yet another innovation from the United Breweries Stable. As leaders in the industry, it is only fitting for United Breweries to honour and pay respect to the festival that dates back to 1810. Bangalore being the beer capital of the country, we felt it appropriate for a festival of this nature." Though the venue was a bit cramped for a festival of this nature, sumptuous German gourmet was as authentic as it could getGerman chefs were especially flown down to dish out sausages, mashed potatoes, and special breads for Bangaloreans.

What's more, a 19-member Bavarian band even enthralled the audience with Bavarian music and a performance of the traditional dance, Schuhplattler, which literally means "clapping shoes". Audiences participated in this dance form dating back to the 17th Century. Others who were not capable of doing the Schucplattler hit together their one-litre beer mugs and rocked their benches.

What started off as a one-day festival in Bangalore was extended to a two-day affair this year. "The challenge for us is to make it a much bigger and better event in the years to come," adds Mr. Vishwanathan.

SONIRA GULHATI

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