Walking the Warli way

Aug 07, 2018, 07:11 IST | Dalreen Ramos

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is celebrated on August 9. Sign up for a photo walk to discover the largest tribe on the outskirts of our own city

Walking the Warli way
World Tribal Day celebrations captured by Sanjiv Valsan in 2017

You will never hear a leopard coming, they say. And on learning of a tribe that worships the graceful animal (or the silent killer), Yash Marwah, 23, fondly recollects a response he heard. "Uska bhi pet hai, kuch toh kha hi lega."

Empathising with a cold-blooded mammal is not quite the personality trait you find in the city, but traversing through Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the Aarey forest, you encounter faces who don't know otherwise. The Warlis, known to be one of the largest tribes in the country and Mumbai's foremost inhabitants, remain faceless to the most of us, even as they continue to face threat from various developmental projects.

A Warli woman ties her hair into a bun with flowers tucked in
A Warli woman ties her hair into a bun with flowers tucked in

To bridge the urban-tribal gap, a collective of like-minded individuals hailing from different professional backgrounds will be hosting a photo walk to offer an intimate view of the Warlis on the occasion of World Indigenous Peoples Day. With the event being conducted for the first time, Marwah, an organiser says, "The takeaway from the photo walk only depends on the level of interaction participants are able to derive from it."

Sanjiv Valsan
Sanjiv Valsan

Experienced photographers Aslam Saiyad and Sanjiv Valsan concur — the event is not just about photography.

Yash Marwah
Yash Marwah

 

Marwah, who at present works as a copywriter, has always had the welfare of Aarey on his mind. So, the goal was clear; to connect the city with the Warlis and the environmental plight that surrounds them. But unlike other collectives that opt to brand themselves, the one Marwah is part of doesn't have a name. With a Facebook page titled Aarey Forest, the group operates with a cause-sans-politics approach, and Valsan couldn't care for more. "This is not a group. It's a citizens' movement. We realise that this is the last piece of land available for real estate exploitation. So, here the camera is a social tool," he explains.

The three-and-a-half hour trail will begin at the national park and the Warli procession will start from Navpada Village. Apart from the song and dance there is to witness, it is an opportunity to enter the wilderness in our concrete jungle, and explore photography beyond f-stops and the depth of field.

The Forgotten Rivers of Bombay, a photo series by Aslam Saiyad
The Forgotten Rivers of Bombay, a photo series by Aslam Saiyad 

Saiyad, who has also documented Mumbai's rivers maintains that one needs to be attuned to knowing their subjects before clicking a picture, a mistake many make.

Aslam Saiyad
Aslam Saiyad

He adds, "We are all familiar with Warli art or wear T-shirts with the same prints. But who are the Warlis? This is a great opportunity for amateur photographers to not only learn the technicalities behind portrait, macro or landscape photography but to actually visit the padas (tribal hamlets) and interact with the people there."

ON August 9, 9 am onwards
AT Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Western Express Highway, Borivali East
CALL 9892212133
EMAIL aareyforestfestival@gmail.com
FREE ENTRY

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