Sumptuous Beginnings

Theme- Harvest Festival

Melodious strains of the violin blended with inconspicuous chatter at Mayor Vincent Hall on Beach Road, Chennai. The venue for the Industrial Summit, from 11th to 13th January 2024, organized by the Central Federation of Industries basked in a golden glow, with muted lighting reflecting the yellowish-orange marigolds strategically hung over the rich draping in the convention hall.

The subtle fragrance wafting from the strings of mango leaf and rose garlands completed the traditional welcome planned for dignitaries from different parts of the world who were a part of the Summit.

The prestigious event was expected to have a smooth sail, provided the proposals were successfully executed and the gastronomical cravings of well-established businesses’ CEOs and Founders were effectively satisfied.


It was past two o’clock. The day’s agenda, signing MOUs with several business giants and introducing promising start-ups ready to set up a strong base in Tamil Nadu, and create successful imprints on the wheel of time, was completed to near perfection.

The VIPs were led by the Chief Minister to the exclusive dining hall for lunch.

A pleasant surprise awaited the dignitaries as they seated themselves in their assigned places. Colourfully decorated earthen pots were placed in the center of the tables.

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen!” The pleasing tone of the head chef, wearing a silk shirt and ‘veshti’, made heads turn. “It’s our pleasure and Tamil Nadu’s pride to tickle your taste buds and fulfill your cravings with this festive lunch that is a highlight of our harvest festival this month- Pongal. I hope our traditional cuisine appeases your senses effectively.”

A smile crossed the Chief Minister’s face.

Green plantain leaves were laid out in front of everyone. Water was sprinkled and leaves were cleaned swiftly.

“This is sweet pongal,” he said scooping it out of the earthen pot, where it had been cooked. “Newly harvested rice is cooked slowly with jaggery and milk. Different flavours and aromas burst forth while the pongal is being cooked. Traditionally, the mixture is allowed to boil over, signifying overflowing happiness and prosperity in the household. Once cooked, the soft appetizing dish is generously laced with nuts and cardamom and of course, dollops of ghee.”

Everyone seemed lost in the mesmerizing taste as the gentle sweetness greased their throats and made way to their eager tummies.

Next, they were presented with a soft-golden variant – Ven Pongal.


“The goodness of rice and lentils deliciously blended with salt and crisp spicy pepper, tempered generously with cashew fried in ghee and is now in front of you. Ven Pongal is a common yet wholesome dish, a favourite of many. It satisfies almost every appetite.” Hot, tangy aromatic sambar was a perfect accompaniment to it and everyone eagerly tucked it in.

Hot masala vadas and spiced buttermilk proved to be a fitting finale to the delightful affair.

Though unusually simple, it proved to be an irresistible treat that laid the foundation for new relationships and great beginnings akin to the significance of the Harvest Festival.


Disclaimer: The events and places mentioned in the story are purely fictional.


Veshti: A traditional attire of men in South India, usually white.

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