It's a community affair at Parle locality | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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It's a community affair at Parle locality

While most Mumbaiites dress up for garba nights in big grounds and dance to the tunes of their favourite Bollywood numbers, residents of Gaunthan Lane in Vile Parle gather around a photo of goddess Durga and invite her to join in the revelry.

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2010 01:21 IST
Apeksha Vora

While most Mumbaiites dress up for garba nights in big grounds and dance to the tunes of their favourite Bollywood numbers, residents of Gaunthan Lane in Vile Parle gather around a photo of goddess Durga and invite her to join in the revelry.

“We celebrate Navratri in the traditional way by singing traditional songs in memory of ‘mataji’ as we lovingly call the goddess,” said Rana Chudasama, 55, who convenes the aarti every evening.

“We start around 10pm when everyone is back from work and go on till the police come to stop us. Since we perform in our compound without using loudspeakers or creating nuisance, the police don’t mind,” he said, adding that about 60 people gather every night during the festival. While some sing songs, many play dholak and other musical instruments.

For these migrants from Kathiawad, Gujarat, who moved to the city decades ago, garba evenings are a time to socialise with people from their village and community. “All of us have busy lives and we only get to spend time with the whole group during Navratri,” said Bharti Baraiya, 42, a teacher in a civic school, who looks forward to this feeling of oneness with her own people.

Over the years, their Maharashtrian and Catholic friends have also started participating in the festivities and some of them even believe that mataji will grant them their wishes.

“Some people offer a ‘garbo’ (an earthen pot in which a lamp is lit through the nine days) or silver ornaments in expectation of blessings,” adds Baraiya.

Each day has a dress code. Children get awards for the best dress.

“Sunday was pink night, then we have traditional night when we put on our kathyawadi clothes. It’s spectacular,” said Barayia. The prizes given to children usually include notebooks or things they can use in schools. The money for these prizes is collected from the community itself. “We don’t look for sponsorships or get into showmanship. This is just a time when all of us get to come together and enjoy,” said Chudasama.