If you have been missing sitting on the steps of the heritage Banganga tank in Walkeshwar and listening to some of your favourite musicians play, here is some good news for you.
The five major cultural festivals in the state, the Banganga Festival, Elephanta Festival, Ellora Festival, Kalidas Festival at Nagpur and Shilpotsav at Aurangabad, are set to be revived once again.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), in 2008, had decided to disassociate itself from these festivals.
“The MTDC and the state Tourism and Culture department decided, in a recent board meeting, to revive these festivals,” said Dr Avinash Dhakne, managing director, MTDC. “We have received a request from the Government of India and grants from them as well to conduct these events.”
Dhakne said the Elephanta Festival was to be held on February 20 and 21, but had to be cancelled due to some technical problems.
“If Banganga is ready…it was going through some structural changes…we will hold it [the festival],” he said.
The festivals will be held when they are scheduled next.
The MTDC got involved in the promotion of the Ellora Festival from 1986.
It started working on the Banganga Festival in 1992 in association with the Indian Heritage Society.
“The revival [of these festivals] is a great step towards preserving the culture of the country,” said Anita Garware, who heads the Indian Heritage Society.
“These festivals are known not only on the national, but international circuit too and should be continued.”
In 2008, the tourism body had taken a stand that its primary role was to promote tourism and invest its time and money in strengthening tourism infrastructure, and that organising festivals was the role of the Culture department.
The MTDC had said that the festivals were self-sufficient with fixed corporate sponsors and organisers, such as The Indian Heritage Society, and did not need their help.
MTDC had also suggested to the state government that the festivals be handed over to local bodies. It had proposed that Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority could handle the Elephanta Festival and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation could take care of Banganga.
The MTDC seems to have now reverted its stand. “Our role also includes promoting culture and the Government of India is supporting us in these endeavours,” Dhakne said.
“We will invite sponsors. After all people visiting the heritage sites to participate in these festivals automatically become tourists.”
In the past, the MTDC had invested Rs 5 lakh in every event and had to pay Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 to the Archaeological Survey of India, which maintains these heritage sites.