Gaothan residents across the city gathered under a canopy of stringed lights to attend the Gaothan Voice Village Fest 2010 on Monday. The event was an East Indian Marathi children’s singing competition at the St Francis Xavier Church quadrangle at Vile Parle. This is the first time Goathans across Mumbai gathered to celebrate their culture.
The festival, a Mobai Gaothan Panchayat initiative organised by the parish youth, began on April 14 at Vakola. The competition was the closing ceremony of the festival.
The three-week festival also included a football and cricket tournament.
The contestants gave solo performances on stage. Members of the audience who liked the performances gave the children token cash prizes as appreciation. “This encourages children to participate in such events,” said Gleason Barretto (35) who is on the monitoring committee of the Mobai Gaothan Panchayat. Godfrey Pimenta, the Mukhya Sarpanch of Mobai, was the chief guest.
Ria Gomes (7), from Bhayandar won the competition with a rendition of Gajara Motha. She was followed by Melody Pereira from Uttan and Victor Misquitta from Vile Parle.
The cultural programme doubled up as a free lifetime membership drive for the panchayat. After the contest, Pimenta discussed the problems faced by gaothans and outlined some of their demands.
“Gaothans have been consistently neglected by political parties. We must get what is due to us.” The demands included an increase in Floor Space Index, access to the SEEPZ church and the knowledge of where the Gaothan Development Fund earmarked by the BMC is being deployed.