Experience the life of Mumbai's early inhabitants at Manori | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Experience the life of Mumbai's early inhabitants at Manori

When you walk in through the gate of the Mobai Bhavan in Manori Village, a local Bhandari (toddy-tapper) will welcome you to East Indian life with a small cup of fresh toddy.

mumbai Updated: May 08, 2011 01:59 IST
Aarefa Johari

When you walk in through the gate of the Mobai Bhavan in Manori Village, a local Bhandari (toddy-tapper) will welcome you to East Indian life with a small cup of fresh toddy.

Beside him is a thatched palm-leaf stall displaying traditional utensils and farm implements once used in East Indian gaothans (villages), and in the next stall, you can watch as a local cook prepares authentic East Indian hand-bread, chicken frittarts and phoogyas (a fried snack) in earthen vessels on a brick stove.

The Mobai Bhavan is the city's first museum showcasing the culture of Mumbai's original inhabitants, the East Indians.

Close to Manori jetty and just a five-minute ferry ride from Marve, this museum and community centre will be inaugurated on Sunday by the Mobai Gaothan Panchayat (MGP), an organisation representing the 189 gaothans remaining in the city.

"Other communities have had their cultural centres in the city for a long time, and we too feel the need for a centre that displays our culture for both outsiders and the new generation of East Indians," said Alphi D'Souza, chief executive officer of the MGP.

Covering 7,000sq ft, the Mobai Bhavan includes a large front yard, a well and a more modern three-room bungalow where guests can stay for a short holiday on request. Anyone who stays will be treated to traditional East Indian cuisine and spontaneous performances of the community's ancient Marathi songs sung to the beats of the gummat (earthen drum).

"Gaothans in Mumbai have changed today and my son, who grew up in an urban atmosphere, has never seen the culture displayed in the museum," said Louella Lopez, 50, a housewife from a Vakola gaothan who will attend the inauguration on Sunday.

The MGP now plans to make the Mobai Bhavan its head office, from where it will carry out its work in the education, health and microfinance for the community.

It also intends to organise a monthly East Indian food festival at the museum.