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
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
Celebrations at Our Lady of Bethlehem Church, Dongri.
Celebrations at the parish church of Uttan.