From chequered nine-yard saris to earthen cooking pots and coconut shell ladles, the city’s first exhibition of its East Indian culture this Saturday will be an important step towards preserving the traditions of Mumbai’s original inhabitants.
The Amhi Mobaikar Exhibition at Irla’s Veneration Hall at Vile Parle has been organised by the Mobai Gaothan Panchayat (MGP), an organisation for the residents of the city’s gaothans or ancient villages inhabited by the East Indian community.
“Through the exhibition, we want to revive the culture of Mumbai’s earliest residents, who have rich traditions that other citizens are not aware of today,” said Alphi D’Souza, chief executive officer and deputy sarpanch of the panchayat. “Certain old practices are disappearing with time, and our own youth need to learn from the exhibition.”
Among the objects to be showcased on Saturday are utensils such as the doe (ladles made of coconut shell or copper) and taizin (earthen cooking pots), a map of old Bombay’s gaothans and 12 large posters explaining East Indian marriages, jewellery and the lugra (chequered nine-yard sari).
This daylong display of gaothan lifestyle is a prelude to the launch of Mobai Bhavan, a permanent museum of East Indian culture at Manori, to be launched on May 8.
The museum will also have a food section where visitors can gorge on authentic East Indian cuisine.
According to the Gaothan Panchayat, there were at least 275 gaothans thriving in Mumbai at the beginning of the 1900s, but as the city expanded into a metropolis, many of them were encroached, leaving 189 standing today.
“Since most East Indians are Catholics, there is a tendency among some citizens today to call us outsiders,” said Terencia Kinny, spokesperson for the MGP exhibition.
“But we are the original farmers, fisher-folk and toddy tappers of this place, and we need to create awareness about our culture,” she added.