Four youngsters along with the NGO Pukar have been working towards preserving the rich and glorious culture of the Girangaon.
“The current generation is not aware about the cultural heritage of Girangaon. It is extremely important for them to realise its significance,” said Shrutika Shitole, one of the four youngsters behind the festival. Shitole still stays in Girangaon with her grandfather who is a retired mill worker.
Shitole along with the others — Tejal Shitole, Ajit Abhimeshi and Kiran Sawant — started research on Girangaon months ago. Information was gathered from old mill workers, socialist activists and cultural activists around the area. It was through this study that Shrutika Shitole learned of the culture of Girangaon and how it has been fading away.
They decided to take a step by organising the Girangaon festival.
This festival will exhibit life, the popular chawl culture and folk art of Girangaon. The festival is on today at the Nare Park Maidan, Parel.
“The recent encroachments around the area have in a way hampered the culture of Girangaon,” said Shrutika. Tejal agreed.
“We are not opposing the development of the area. We realise that the area needs to develop, but it should be in our favour and should be sensitive to the heritage of Girangaon. We don’t want skyscrapers or plush homes. As long as the buildings that come up after the chawl demolition are comfortable it is good enough for us," she added. Sawant believes that Girangaon has no character without the history of the area and it is the youth of today who has to nurture it and preserve it.
“If this generation understands the importance then it will flourish,” added Abhimeshi. Abhimeshi strongly believes that the development is happening at the cost of the Girni (mill) worker. “This development is only for a certain section of the society. We have never benefited out of this. This is not justified,” he added.
Anita Patil-Deshmukh, Executive Director of Pukar said, “The idea of mounting the Girangaon Festival was born out of a deep seated passion and desire to preserve the rich heritage of Girangaon for posterity. In its hay days when all the mills were churning out beautiful textiles in the heart of the city, the mill workers of Girangoan contributed to the economic and cultural prosperity of the city and country alike.”
During the early times Girangaon had created its own cultural ethos with public festivals like the Ganesh-Utsav, Dahi Handi, Zakad, which became very popular across the state. It also staged brilliant theater, produced singers, writers, poets, and actors who spread the stories of Girangaon through their creative ventures.
“Today, due to Globalisation the culture had changed and most of these rich heritages are disappearing. This festival attempts to present these various art forms to the younger generation and to preserve it by archiving and documenting it for posterity," she added.