Covid fails to dampen festive spirit in Mumbai colleges

Updated on Sep 05, 2021 01:18 AM IST

The usually colourful classrooms, decorated and lit up hallways of Mumbai colleges as part of their annual cultural festivals have now been replaced with virtual events

Organisers at an event during the annual cultural festival, Kshitij, at Mithibai College, Vile Parle, last year. (HT)
Organisers at an event during the annual cultural festival, Kshitij, at Mithibai College, Vile Parle, last year. (HT)

The usually colourful classrooms, decorated and lit up hallways of Mumbai colleges as part of their annual cultural festivals have now been replaced with virtual events. While Covid-19 dampened the spirit of students last year when several colleges chose to drop their festivals due to the lockdown, no one was caving in for another year. Online workshops, conclaves, pre-recorded events and live impromptu shows — colleges have left no stone unturned in ensuring that the essence of a cultural festival stays intact.

After missing their annual festival for the first time in 2020 since its inception over 40 years ago, students of St Xavier’s College ensured they keep it alive and recently concluded Malhar, on August 29. While the usual fanfare which included dance events in the college foyer, music and elocution events in the main hall as well as other events happening simultaneously across several classrooms on campus was missing, the energy and fun quotient remained intact in the virtual fest as well.

“Malhar is known for its richness and variety of events. We arranged everything, ranging from Conclave — the intellectual discourse of the fest, to performing arts, fine arts and literary arts events and managed to attract participation from city colleges. While some of the events were pre-recorded where participants were asked to send in their recorded entries in advance for judges to go through, some others happened live and were judged on the day of the festival itself,” said Gauravi Pradhan, a student of the institute and press organiser, Malhar 2021

Similarly, mass media students of Jai Hind College in Churchgate recently concluded their virtual conclave, held on August 30 and 31, which brought together experts in the field of Bollywood, entrepreneurs, stand-up comedians, as well as workshops on phone photography for media students. The students are also working on their annual festival, Detour, which they hope to conduct online by the end of this year.

In 2020, while several colleges decided to drop their festivals due to the rising Covid-19 cases as well as lockdown, many went ahead with online fests and managed to attract students from around the city and state.

The country’s largest cultural festival, Mood Indigo by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), hosted online dance, music, art and design competitions in 2020 and also managed to organise fund-raising virtual live concerts in order to help non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with Covid-19 relief. Similarly, Techfest, IIT-B’s technology festival, also went virtual with its events, and this year too, they are following the same pattern for the event.

Vile Parle’s Mithibai College was one of the few city colleges that managed to conduct their annual cultural festival Kshitij last year as well. Carried out in two phases between November and December 2020, a host of events brought together celebrities and college students on a virtual platform.

“Last year, the event was conducted completely in the virtual mode, but this year, we are hoping to partly conduct the event in physical mode as well. While the planning is on, we will wait for updates from the government before announcing our decision on the festival,” said second-year BA student Yashvi Gotecha, who is the chairperson, Kshitij 2021.

Once again, many colleges are keeping their social cause events pegged at Covid-19 relief. Organisers of Malhar put up a hip-hop dance workshop — A Hook Step for Hope — and all funds raised through it were donated to Hemkunt Foundation.


    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

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