Battle of Oranges


 2  Festivals and Celebrations

Battle of Oranges

All I can see is a flash of orange, then I am hit in the chest. It knocks my breath away. I slide backwards, fall bum-first in a pile of orange mush. What the heck! I touch my head: my red hat is still there.During the carnival, official public notices are plastered on the walls around Ivrea, ordering people, especially tourists, to wear a red hat. Or else they can be considered a 'fair target for gentle and moderate orange-throwing'.

The red hat people are ordered to wear is not just any hat. The berretto frigio, a sock-shaped hat sold on every street corner, is the symbol of the carnival itself. It is a symbol of freedom; worn in Roman times by freed slaves. During the Middle Ages it was on the heads of peasants rioting against feudal lords.

Back on my feet, I make sure my hat is on, and visible. I want to get another look, but soon I am hit again on my forehead. My head jerks back, I wipe my face, oh my goodness, it's blood! I am going to need stitches, maybe it's a concussion!

Then I remember blood oranges.

Shivering from the quick succession of shock and relief, I retreat to the back of the square, away from any flying fruit. This is the first of three yearly battles; everybody is fresh and excited from a year-long wait. Nine teams of aranceri (orange-throwers) on foot, wearing uniforms, hurl oranges at their opponents on horse-drawn carriages, clad in Doctor Whoesque costumes with padded shoulders and leather-covered cylindrical helmets. An hour into the battle, the square is covered in a thick sludge, mixture of orange pulp and horse manure. It smells sharp, sweet-and-sour.

Aranceri on foot rush back and forth, to the sides of the square stacked with orange crates, filling their shoulder bags and baggy tops. As soon as a cart approaches, they charge, bombarding it with oranges.

Horses halt, for a few minutes; oranges explode, then the cart takes off again, the aranceri chase it for a while, hurling the last of their supplies. They wear no protection, and walk around with their hair caked in orange bits, juice running down their faces. Some have broken noses, some clutch a side of their face, arms or ribs. They hold their heads high, shouting their team's war cries.

"This is the moment we wait for all the year," says Silvia, holding an orange cut in half on her right eye. "I'll be happy to have a black eye tomorrow."

She sits with me, sipping a glass of mulled wine. "I think carnival is good for our psychological health. During these three days I can let it all out, all the frustrations I have built up during the year. Afterwards I feel refreshed. Of course, accidents happen" she adds, pushing the orange on her swollen eye, "but you should try, it's good for you".

I am curious to know what it feels, I admit. I keep thinking I am wearing a hat, and the public are not supposed to join in the battle. Even so, that doesn't seem to stop hat-wearers from throwing the occasional orange. To prevent further trouble, volunteers advise the public to stay behind protective nets.

"Forget the nets" says Massi, an arancere of the Morte team, with a gigantic skull on the back of his orange-stained uniform, "if you want to live the carnival, you have to be in the middle of the battle."

"Aren't you afraid of getting hurt?"

Massi laughs. "If you compare the risk to the rush you get, a black eye is a small price to pay."

He fills his top with oranges. A cart is approaching. "Come on, throw your red hat away and come with me".

I am tempted, but I decline.

                                                                                                                                    - Margherita



1. Flash:           Glint, Sparkle, Gleam चमक

2. Pile:             Heap, Stack, Accumulation ढेर

3. Mush:          Mash, Puree, Soften

4. Heck:           Darn, Blast, Curses

5. Carnival:      Fair, Festival, Celebration मेलाउत्सव

6. Slaves:         Servants, Bondsmen, Serfs गुलामदास

7. Peasants:     Farmers, Country folk, Agrarians कृषकहरू

8. Feudal:        Medieval, Aristocratic, Hierarchical सामन्ती

9. Jerks:           Twitches, Spasms, Jolts झटका

10. Concussion: Impact, Jolt, Collision धक्का

11. Shivering:  Trembling, Quivering, Shuddering ठिठुर्नु

12. Succession: Sequence, Series, Progression अनुक्रम

13. Hurl:          Throw, Fling, Toss फेक्नु

14. Opponents: Adversaries, Rivals, Foes प्रतिद्वन्द्वीविरोधीविपक्षीहरू

15. Costumes:   Attire, Outfits, Dress पोशाकवस्त्र

16. Battle:       Conflict, Combat, Struggle युद्धसंघर्षलडाई

17. Sludge:      Muck, Mire, Filth कीचड

18. Manure:     Fertilizer, Dung, Compost गोबर

19. Explode:    Burst, Detonate, Erupt फुट्नु

20. Clutch:      Grasp, Grip, Cling दबाउनु

21. Sipping:     Drinking, Imbibing, Quaffing पिउनुचुस्नु,

22. Mulled:      Pondered, Considered चिन्ता गर्नुविचार गर्नु

23. Frustrations: Disappointments, Setbacks, Obstacles निराशा

24. Swollen:    Inflamed, Enlarged, Puffed सुज्योफुलेको

25. Curious:     Inquisitive, Interested, Intrigued जिज्ञासुउत्सुक

26. Gigantic:   Huge, Enormous, Massive विशालअत्यधिकअसाधारण


A. Match the words with their meaning.

a. mush         iii. a soft thick mass or mixture

b. jerk           v. to make something move with a sudden short sharp movement

c. concussion vi. a temporary loss of consciousness

d. hurl          i. to throw something violently in a particular direction

e. pulp          vii. the soft part inside the fruits and vegetables

f. clutch        ii. to hold something tightly

g. sip            iv. to drink something, taking a very small amount each time


B. Write 'True' for true statements and 'False' for false ones.

a. The tourists are informed to wear a red hat through public notices. True

b. Aranceri seems dressed in Doctor Whoesque costumes. True

c. When a cart approaches, aranceri run away from the square.  False

d. The narrator feels bored during the festival period. False

e. The volunteers encourage the visitors to join the battle. False

f. The narrator accepts Massi's offer. False


C. Answer the following questions.

a. What does the red hat symbolize?

= The red hat symbolizes freedom and is a symbol of the carnival itself.

 b. How does the narrator feel when she wipes her face?

= The narrator feels shocked when she wipes her face.

 c. What does the square look like after an hour- battle of the oranges?

= After an hour of the battle of the oranges, the square is covered in a thick sludge, a mixture of orange pulp and horse manure.

 d. How do aranceri members chase the cart?

= Aranceri members chase the cart by running after it and hurling the last of their supplies.

 e. Does Silvia enjoy this carnival? Why?

= Yes, Silvia enjoys the carnival because it allows her to release frustrations and feel refreshed afterward.

 f. Why does Massi say, "Forget the nets"?

= Massi says, "Forget the nets" because he believes that to truly experience the carnival, one must be in the middle of the battle.


 Grammar I

A. Change the following sentences into indirect speech. The beginning of each sentence is given.

a. "Are you working tonight?"

Agaman asked Timothy if he was working that night.

 b. "Is this the road to the station?"

A stranger wanted to know from me if that was the road to the station. 

 c. "Did you do your homework?"

My friend inquired her if she had done her homework.

 d. "Have you been to Paris?"

The tourist was asked if he had been to Paris.

e. "How long have you been working in this company?"

Usha inquired of Anju how long she had been working in that company.

 f. "What flavour ice cream did you have at the party?"

My mother asked me what flavor ice cream I had at the party.

 g. "Have you studied reported speech before?"

The teacher wanted to know if they had studied reported speech before.

h. "Where will you stay tonight?"

I asked him where he would stay that night.

 i. "How many players were shown yellow card by the referee?"

Sumangal asked his friend how many players had been shown yellow cards by the referee.

 j. "What magic did the medicine have on the patient?"

Sarita wanted to know from Sommaya what magic the medicine had on the patient.


B. Change the following remarks into reported speech.

a. Kritika asked me, "Why did you go out last night?"

= Kritika asked me why I had gone out last night. 

b. "Who was that beautiful woman, Usha?" said Sunita.

= Sunita asked Usha who that beautiful woman had been.

c. "How is your mother?" said Gaurab to Yang Dolma.

= Gaurab asked Yang Dolma how her mother was.

d. My friend wanted to know, "What are you going to do at the weekend?"

= My friend wanted to know what I was going to do at the weekend.

e. "Where will you live after graduation?" said my teacher.

= My teacher asked where I would live after graduation.

 f. Anusha said to Melisha, "What were you doing when I saw you?"

= Anusha asked Melisha what she had been doing when she had seen her.

 g. I said to the pilgrim, "How was the journey?"

= I asked the pilgrim how the journey had been.

 h. "How often do you go to cinema?" said Krishna.

= Krishna asked how often I went to cinema.

 i. "Do you live in Patan?" said the Principal.

= The Principal asked if I lived in Patan.

 j. Niraj said to Luniva, "Did Phadindra arrive on time?"

= Niraj asked Luniva if Phadindra had arrived on time.


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