Much like Bandra and Kala Ghoda, which both host a popular art festival every year, Andheri too wants its own identity — and its residents have come together to celebrate their diversity.
The Aapli Andheri Mahotsav, a 12-day event that started on April 21, has had more than 2,500 residents participating in various events. For Manmath Shetty (54), Andheri is about celebrating change.
He reminisces the days this suburb was populated with trees, huts and paddy fields as opposed to the tall buildings, five-star hotels and corporate parks.
“It was an agricultural area much like my native place in Mangalore,” he said.
“But with the industrial boom, it has become one of the largest and most cosmopolitan suburbs and home to people from all communities — Catholics, Muslims, Gujaratis and many more.”
Even though he misses the open spaces, the Mahakali resident, who has been living here for more than 45 years, is quite proud of the religious and cultural diversity the suburb now has to offer.
“Andheri is the migration capital of Mumbai,” said Dr Akhil Khan, managing director and chairman of ID Sports. “This is the third year that we've organised this event and we haven't driven it by corporate sponsorships but by the hard work the volunteers from the suburb have put into it.”
The festival aims to celebrate the suburb’s varied communities and promote the conservation of the environment through events such as Women’s Cricket, Rangoli competition and cultural song and dance evening.
The highlight of the event is the Green Walkathon on May 2, which will see more than 4,000 residents start from Holy Family School ground and walk down Andheri-Kurla road.
“That road (Andheri-Kurla) is known as Asia’s busiest road and has constant traffic jams and air pollution,” said entrepreneur Sudhir Cawa (34).
“We are walking down that road to spread a message to secure the future of this planet,” he added.