While the city drowned in Holi celebrations on Monday, the East Indian community, considered the original inhabitants of the city, had a small celebration of their own. They celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of one of their most renowned leaders—Joseph Baptista, who was popularly known as Kaka Baptista. His busts in Uttan were garlanded and a meeting was held at Mazgaon as part of the celebrations.
Born on Mach 17, 1864 in Matharpacady (Magaon), Baptista was the community's one and only popular leader during the freedom movement. He was also the mayor of Bombay in 1925.
"We had two functions to mark his anniversary. One was in Mazgaon, where he was born, and the other was in Utttan from where his family hailed," said Alphi D'Soua, member, Mobai Gaothan panchayat, an organization that works for the East Indian community.
D'Soua added: "He participated in the freedom struggle during Tilak's period. It is a big honour for a small community like us. He was held in high esteem. The idea behind celebrating his anniversary is to encourage today's youngsters in the community to look up to him and be inspired."
Baptista, who has a garden named after him in Mazgaon (also known as Mazgaon garden), was closely associated with Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Some even say that Tilak was greatly influenced by Baptista and had made popular his demand for freedom/home rule movement. He is also said to have assisted Tilak in the Sarvajanik Ganpati movement. He is also famous for having demanded that Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar be tried openly. Baptista died in 1930, and was buried in Sewree.