Wheat and Bread Festival
OMM Bulletin de l’Amicale No. 29 – Décembre 2018
Fête of Wheat and Bread 2018
by Naginder Sehmi
After hiking round the idyllic Lac Noir/Schwarzsee in central Switzerland, about 2.30-hour drive from Geneva, it took another two-hour drive to a small country town of Echallens located in the rich farmland midway between Lausanne and Yverdon on Lake Neuchatel. This region is the Swiss granary, growing nearly all varieties of wheat (see photo).
Every ten years the people organise and celebrate a week of Fète de Blè et du Pain. This is the fourth one. People from all over Switzerland have turned up to taste its famous bread and cheese. They walk around seeing rural crafts anxiously waiting the spectacular show performed on a nearby huge football-field-size ground. This year the theme of the story is Solstice. For copy right reasons recording of any sort was not permitted. See http://www.echallens2018.ch/.
The pageant enacts the local middle-ages legend when the region is hit by a severe famine. Three heroes: Baral a fearless fighter, Lancelin inventor of engineering, and Aurore a mysterious alchemist, overcome the four elements and bring back to their village ingredients needed to make the first bread born out the earth, with water the source of all life, energy from the air and heat from the fire to bake. Mighty Baral ploughs the earth and becomes the cultivator, ingenious and foresighted Lancelin uses water and air to run his machines and becomes a miller, secretive and creative Aurore puts together all the elements and transforms them with fire and becomes a baker. Together they make a sphere of nature and energy that becomes bread,ore precious than gold that one cannot eat.
For more than two hours more than 350 children, young people and adults of the region performed a spectacular show in a village with folkloric dances, laughter, tyrannical king, friendship, traditional and less traditional songs, frescoes showing paintings of monuments, imaginary gigantic creatures loaded with pyrotechnic effects, horse riders, epic battle, crazy characters, a revolution, folklore, a flying fire-spouting dragon, choreographed traditional gestures, series of combats, suspense, reuniting, joy, learning, and rediscovering bread-making. Special effects, giant marionettes operated by two huge cranes kept 5000 spectators fully engaged and finally happy children frolicking joyously. Two hundred choir singers, some from our group in Geneva, accompanied by a big orchestra played continuously music, sang songs and made sound effects for the artists in the arena for entire duration