A mem­o­rable yield

In a bid to re­vive East In­dian tra­di­tions fad­ing into his­tory, gaothans across Mum­bai cel­e­brated the har­vest fes­ti­val of Agera. Com­mu­nity mem­bers say they need the cul­tural glue more than ever be­fore

Mid Day - - THE GUIDE - SNIGDHA HASAN snigdha.hasan@mid-day.com

A GUIDED walk around Chim­bai or Ran­war in Ban­dra can be quite an ex­pe­ri­ence even for a Hill Road shop­per.

For, at the far western end of this com­mer­cial mecca lies a world that doesn’t quite gel with the buzz all around — Chim­bai and Ran­war, to start with, are still called vil­lages or gaothans. But si­t­u­ate the tiny ham­lets’ Por­tuguese-style houses and nar­row lanes con­verg­ing at a holy cru­ci­fix amidst lush paddy fields in­stead of the sur­round­ing high-rises, and they may no longer seem like relics.

This, in a nut­shell, is the story of many East In­di­ans, re­sid­ing in hun­dreds of such gaothans across Mum­bai around which the city grew, strip­ping them of geo­graph­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural con­text. As the farm­land owned by the com­mu­nity got ac­quired

for de­vel­op­ment, one of their cul­tural tra­di­tions that took a back­seat was the an­nual har­vest fes­ti­val of Agera ob­served ev­ery Oc­to­ber.

“The sta­ple crop of the Konkan is paddy. In the past, those East In­di­ans that lived off the land, cul­ti­vated paddy. On the day of Agera, sheaves of paddy would be har­vested along with other fruits and veg­eta­bles grown on the farm, loaded on a dec­o­rated bul­lock cart or rekla and taken with great pomp and show — with men and women dressed in their fin­ery, and an East In­dian band play­ing mu­sic — to the parish’s church to have the first har­vest blessed. Strands of

PIC/PRITAM COLASO

Cel­e­bra­tions at Our Lady of Beth­le­hem Church, Don­gri.

PIC/FLEUR D’SOUZA

Cel­e­bra­tions at the parish church of Ut­tan.

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