Bengalis and ‘Mishti’ (Bengali for ‘desserts’) are like two inseparable components of the same organism, they are entwined together since ancient times when the land of Bengal was known as ‘Gour’, derived from the Bengali word for jaggery, ‘Gur’. The land of jaggery, the land of sweets beckon you no matter where in the world you are. ‘Mishti’ is the umbilical cord that binds a Bengali to his motherland. And it was this cord that gave birth to the unique festival of Bengali sweets in the UK, ‘Mishti Puraan’.
Mishti Puraan could have been just another communal get-together, another festival organized by the NRIs in UK. But the organizing group IBUK went a step further. They culminated their will to make a difference in the society with their will to organize a first of it’s kind Bengali desserts festival. We have seen charity events in the UK where people come with homemade cakes and cookies to raise funds for a cause. IBUK or ‘Indian Bengalis in UK’ gave that charity event culture a typical Bengali twist. Volunteers would come with homemade Bengali desserts, the kinds which are hard to get in the shops abroad and raise money from the sales for a noble cause.
IBUK or ‘Indian Bengalis in UK’ started out as a Facebook group in 2015, founded by Dalia Singh out of a passion that would for the first time give voice to the Indian Bengali diaspora on a platform outside India. Anywhere abroad, a Bengali is generally identified with the nation of Bangladesh. But IBUK wanted the world to know that a Bengali doesn’t only mean Bangladesh, it means West Bengal as well, it means India as well !
Mishti Puraan was planned as a cross UK event, which will be hosted across cities, mainly because IBUK has a member count of 3900 and rising (as of today) spread across the length and breadth of the country.
The first edition was hosted in London on 19th January, 2019 with 8 volunteers dishing out some popular and quintessential Bengali desserts like Baked Roshogolla, Chhanar Jilipi, Mishti Doi, Khaja, Kheer Kodom, Komolabhog, Malpua, ‘Balushahi along with some rare and endangered varieties like Golaap Pithe, Gokul Pithe, Modhurbhog, Narkel Chapa, etc. If the sweets ever managed to give you a sugar overload, there were snacks like Jhalmuri, Alu Kabli, Fuchka waiting you at the other end of the hall as well. There were food boxes from the famous Indian joint ‘Posto’ as well comprising of Koraishutir Kochuri, Alu Dom and Shingara. Sweets were sold out in no time with the overwhelming turnout of people from all around London and from outside the capital as well. The love for mishit and the love for the society made the London episode a resounding success. A sum of £1000 was raised from the sale of sweets and the online fundraising page hosted by IBUK during the event. And all this was donated to Cancer Research UK.
After London, Mishti Puraan moved to East Anglia. On 3rd March, it was hosted in Camboune, Cambridgeshire with the unwavering support of the Indian community there led by Shrobona Bhattacharya. And with the enthusiastic support came the sweets – Kalakand, Paatishapta, Gur Sondesh, Mugpuli, Bonde, Aam Doi, Mishti Doi, Roshogolla, Gurer Payesh, Malpoa, Rabri, Aamropali, Roshomadhuri, Kheerkodom, Chitoi Pithe, etc. This time the event saw an increased number of non-Bengali communities visiting the stalls as well as participating with their sweets like Shrikhand, Rose Cookies, Chiroti and many more. A whopping amount of £900 has been raised from the sales and an online donation of £120 has been deposited in the crowdfunding page. It was astounding and heartwarming to see every Indian coming forward when IBUK decided to donate their funds this time to the Pulwama terrorist attack victims’ families in India. This was a spontaneous call taken by the group when the attack happened back home and they took a step beyond the social media and decided to stand by the motherland in it’s hour of need. The fund was donated to the government website Bharatkeveer.
The 3rd episode of Mishti Puraan was organized on 6th April, in Manchester by super energetic Sheena Dutta where not only loads of sweets like Sponge Rosogolla, Mouchaak, Kamola Bhog, Raajbhog, Dudh Puli, Gokul Pithey, Natun Gurer Sandesh (sweets made from fresh date jaggery), Sedhho Pithey, Rasho Bhora, Malpua, Kamalapuli, Badam Sandesh, Narkoler Sandesh, Kola-r Bora (Sugar free sweets), unique items like Ice cream Cake and Ice cream Sandesh, savoury items like Matarshuntir Kachuri, Alur Dom, Alur chop, Ghughni, Phuchka, Dhokla were prepared, the folk band Krishnachura totally transformed the atmosphere. Everybody was swaying with their melodious music. The entire atmosphere was electrifying. More than £1000 was raised on the day and about £450 was raised online which was donated to Cancer Research UK.
People poured in from different parts of the country, often far off from the venue, with no conditions attached, with no intention to earn anything but only to give away love, through their culinary skills, through their will to make a difference. They came for nothing but love.
To know more details about it’s various exciting events round the year, you could visit their website www.indianbengalisinuk.net.
Mishti Puraan has proved that even in these tumultuous times, love has not lost out to hate.
With this continued intent, Mishti Puraan will move onto newer shores across the this island nation, spreading the sweet aroma of unconditional love.