Ethnic fests keep our culture alive

Today, the Hitlist section of this newspaper in its Weekend Guide pages carries a story about how the Bhendi Bazaar area is gearing up for its Urdu festival. The three-day festival to be held in early January is celebrated with the aim to revive and celebrate the Urdu culture the area has specially contributed to. Under the cultural umbrella, the event will include a programme called ‘Hundred Years of Urdu Cinema’.

Bhendi Bazaar is one of Mumbai’s biggest redevelopment projects. It is only a part of a pan-city movement. Redevelopment certainly aims to enhance the lifestyle of the inhabitants but, inevitably, the builders’ bulldozers also crush the history and heritage of the place. Communities get uprooted, as lifestyles change owing to physical and infrastructural changes.

That is why the Urdu festival is a great way to carry on the Bazaar’s legacy. In a similar way, communities across the city must also ensure that there is a slice of history that is kept alive for their future generations.

Recently, Mumbai celebrated Koli festival, which revived the culture of the city’s original inhabitants -- their food, their customs and livelihood.

If transformation is ineluctable and a booming city has little choice but to go vertical, it is festivals like this that help us hold on to the character of the place and give it its intellectual vigour and soul.

As members of a community who have a stake in preserving its culture, we must ensure that such festivals get their due.  

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