In a fitting opening to the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, one of the country’s biggest cultural festivals and an event that has become part of the cultural identity of the city and the state, the Yuvak Biradari dance group performed a Maharashtrian folk dance at Cross Maidan on Saturday, officially declaring the festival open.
The performance was followed by an opening ceremony led by Maneck Davar, chairperson of the Kala Ghoda Association, which started the festival 16 years ago to revive the precinct’s art culture, accompanied by Hindustan Times business head Nitin Chaudhary.
Bollywood actor Raveen Tandon lit the inaugural lamp before an audience of about 1,000 people at Cross Maidan, as did festival director Brinda Miller and other members of the association.
Calling the festival “a great buffet of culture served over nine days”, Tandon congratulated the KGAF association for its 16th year of success. “This festival sources talent from all over, which is a pleasure for Mumbaiites like us,” she added.
The scale of the 16th edition of the festival was evident on Day 1, with thousands thronging each of the 15 venues to tour the art installations, participate in walks, workshops and cooking sessions, shop at the myriad stalls and attend dance, film, theatre and literature events.
“The number of people who have visited today is an indication of how much this festival is growing,” said Davar.
Already, the festival calendar for this year’s Kala Ghoda arts fest is bigger than ever, with more than 500 events spread over nine days — including an entirely new section dedicated to urban design and architecture. “In terms of the number of events, this festival is already the biggest so far,” said Miller. “I’m also seeing a lot more children at the festival this year, and, despite there being no acoustic or dance performances on Rampart Row, thousands are thronging the street for the stalls and displays, which is a joy to see,” said Miller.
One of the children in attendance was 10-year-old Angira Kanwar, who had her eyes glued to the inaugural dance performances.
“I myself am learning Kathak, and I came here to watch the beautiful performances by experienced artistes,” said the Deonar resident.
Chembur resident Mahua Banerjee, meanwhile, was a first-time Kala Ghoda attendee. “I’m here with my husband and young daughter and we are loving every bit of it,” she said. “The festive atmosphere and the dance programmes are great.”