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More power to suburbia

Fiona FernandezIt’s been a happy dilemma to be faced with. For the past three-four months, the features pages in MiD DAY have had to contend with having to pack in countless events and festivals that are being held in rapid succession, not just in south Mumbai or some of the more popular suburbs (read: Bandra, Andheri) but also in Mira-Bhayendar, Navi Mumbai, Mulund and beyond. It’s a terrific change for the better, we think.

Marathons, food and art festivals, heritage and tree walks, and panel discussions — we’ve come across plenty of activities to showcase the talent, buzz, ideas and enthusiasm that reflect these usually lesser seen and heard of areas across Mumbai’s suburbs.

Likewise, indigenous communities like the East Indians and the Kolis are also doing their bit to educate and keep alive their traditions, culture and history in a cosmopolitan city, buoyed by plenty of events that are open and free for all Mumbaiites. 

What started off, years ago with the Celebrate Bandra festival, has now spread, with most suburbs taking a cue and presenting creative ways to bring their respective suburbs into the spotlight.

However, this hasn’t been without its fair share of hurdles. Recently, one was privy to how a particular organiser, keen on hosting a festival in a far-flung suburb, had to struggle for months on end in order to draw in big names to attend the festival.

The motives were good, but the location didn’t seem to strike a chord. Eventually, their perseverance paid off and the festival was able to find its feet with a few names making it, but not necessarily the big ones.

One dearly hopes that an increasing number of artistes, performers and sponsors promote and back such initiatives in lesser known suburbs too, so everyone gets a piece of the cultural pie.

Till date, art and cultural aficionados, yours truly included, have to trek either to Bandra, Juhu or south Mumbai on that treasured Sunday, to catch a big act, a high-octave gig or a world-class stage production. Auditoriums elsewhere are far and few, and infrastructure at the very basic level is nothing to write home about.

For a city like Mumbai, to be dubbed as a cultural hub, the emphasis, direction and focus must be distributed equally. This is where such cultural festivals for every suburb come into the picture, to help make a difference in drawing more numbers, increasing awareness among citizens of the suburb, and infuse a sense of bonding within a smaller community.

One hopes that this present trend of more cultural events being held across the length and breadth of the city isn’t just a passing phase but the beginning of something good, constructive and long-term for a city that has a long way to go as far as creating a year-long culturally vibrant itinerary that not only showcases the very best of world talent but also presents its local character to the maximum.

— The writer is Features Editor, MiD DAY 

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