For zythophiles or beer maniacs, September 17, 2022 was a Red-Letter Day.
It was when the world's hugest beer festival opened -- the 187th edition of Oktoberfest kicked off in Munich on Saturday and will go on for 17 burp-filled days.
Oktoberfest has been even more looked forward to this year because the last fest was held in 2019 and COVID-19 has been responsible for dashing the thirsty hopes of beer lovers for two years running.
IMAGE: Some 7.3 million litres of beer was guzzled in 2019 at Oktoberfest. We can bet the record for beer consumed at the 2022 fest will be astounding. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: The first Oktoberfest was held in October 1810 to commemorate the nuptials of Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen with Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who later became King Ludwig I.
The whole of Munchen (Munich) was invited and beer, naturally, flowed. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters
IMAGE: Be certain that through this fortnight you are going to see more dirndls and lederhosens than your tired eyes can handle. It's like watching The Sound of Music 600 times.
Dirndls and lederhosens are the traditional dress of all German-speaking areas of the Alps and are donned for special occasions in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, bits of Italy and Switzerland and when people have to dance around the trees and down the mountainside -- like we did in films set in Kashmir -- that's what they wear. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: COVID-19 is not the only thing that has played havoc with the scheduling of Oktoberfest through history.
It has been cancelled 26 times since its inception.
The World Wars, of course, nixed all fest plans and that despicable creep Hitler tried many ways to disrupt it -- for instance, no one who was Jewish could work in the fair in 1933 and in 1938, post the annexation of Austria, he renamed the fair Großdeutsches Volksfest or Greater German Folk Fair, as per Wikipedia.com. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: What could be one of the greatest challenges of organising a beer fest?
Why, of course, having enough public bathrooms to help with multitudes of beer-filled bladders.
Some 1,800 toilets, nearly a kilometre of them urinals, according to Oktoberfest.net, will be available this year and the queues are regulated by the Bundespolizei, so people do their jobs fast and vamoose! Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: In addition to beer, wine, sparkling wine, tea, coffee, lemonade and water is available.
And you can dine on chicken, pork sausages, fish, pork shanks.
Chicken is the highest selling item although pork sausages go like hotcakes too.
Should veggies keep away? Oh, no, according to plantbasednews.com, you can find a splendid range of veg and vegan dishes like salted radish, spaetzle (pasta or dumplings made from eggs), pretzels, soy steak, organic sauerkraut strudel, pan-fried vegetables with tomato puree, vegan meatloaf and pea schnitzel. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: A visitor cheers, utterly pleased with himself, after finishing what was presumably a giant mug of beer.
Only beer crafted within the city boundaries of Munich is served.
Further, the beer has to be brewed as per Reinheitsgebot (purity order) regulations that restricts the list of ingredients.
Barley, water and hops are the main/only ingredients of Oktoberfest beer. It has up to 6 per cent alcohol content. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: Beer is served in the beer halls from 9 am to 22.30 pm daily till the festival ends on October 3. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: You have to be 16 to drink beer at the Oktoberfest.
There are a few more rules: You will only be served a mug of beer if you are seated.
After that, in a state of happiness, you are allowed to dance on a bench or chair, but not on the table, please.
Also bags are not permitted -- only handbags and fanny packs. That could be because a record number of beer mug thefts occur each year -- something in the region of 111,000 robberies are prevented yearly, says Oktoberfest.net,
The Bundespolizei will be watching everyone like hawks for sure. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: Approximately 9,000 people in costumes and riflemen participated in Trachten-und Schützenzug, which is an enormous traditional parade held on the Sunday after the fest begins. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
IMAGE: Oktoberfest is declared open each year after the mayor of Munich cracks open a barrel of beer with a giant wooden hammer and shouts: O Zapft is, which means 'It's time to party'.
On Saturday, September 17, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter did the honours. He can be seen here with his wife Petra and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder with his wife Karin Baumueller beering it up. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters
IMAGE: The 14 festhalle or beer tents are the main venues of this beer extravaganza, but there are plenty of side attractions like rides and museums and that's how it has been since the festival was established -- to be a carnival of sorts. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters
IMAGE: The festival authorities take special pains to bring in every age group and please all.
According to Wikipedia, in 2005 it was decided that the festival would henceforth be a quiet Oktoberfest and the music played till 6 pm is folksy and not loud, nothing more than 85 decibels.
After that pop and rock is allowed to take over. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters
Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/Rediff.com
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com