Gudi Padwa 2024: A Journey Through The Hindu Navarsh Swagat Yatra in Girgaon, Mumbai

Gudi Padwa 2024: A Journey Through The Hindu Navarsh Swagat Yatra in Girgaon, Mumbai

The best part of the Yatra is the inclusivity, it brings people from different religions and various walks of life together

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Sunday, April 07, 2024, 03:42 AM IST
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File Pic Courtesy Swami Vivekananda Yuva Prathisthan

As the vibrant colours of spring begin to blossom, so does the spirit of celebration in South Mumbai’s Girgaon. There’s a certain frenzy in the air, as the neighbourhood prepares for the annual Hindu Navarsh Swagat Yatra held on Gudi Padwa (April 9, this year). This cherished tradition is deeply rooted in Maharashtrian customs and beliefs, drawing hundreds of residents to the streets of Girgaon.

The spirited procession commences early morning on Gudi Padwa from the Phadke Wadi Ganpati Mandir at Sikka Nagar and ends at Thakurdwar. The Hindu Navarsh Swagat Yatra is a collective effort of the members of the Girgaon-based cultural committee, Swami Vivekananda Yuva Prathisthan. It was kick-started two decades ago, in 2003, with the objective of engaging the youth and keeping the tradition of Gudi Padwa alive.

“We have New Year parties on December 31. So, why not something special to herald the Hindu New Year?” questions Shridhar Agarkar, Executive Chairperson, Swami Vivekananda Yuva Prathisthan. “Our aim was to gather the youth and make them aware of the importance of Gudi Padwa.”

File Pic Courtesy Swami Vivekananda Yuva Prathisthan

Partakers dressed in traditional attire, women wearing navari sarees and riding bikes, children and youngsters dressed as historical personalities or as Hindu gods and goddesses, accompanied by the rhythmic beats of lezim, dhol and tasha, make the labyrinthine Yatra a sight to behold. One might also be able to spot a celeb or two, an influencer making reels, while heartily shaking a leg to the melodious music. As the Swagat Yatra progresses, it becomes a celebration of community unity and collective joy. Girgaonkars, who have experienced or participated in the Yatra, will nod in agreement with the above description.

“The preparation for the Yatra begins after Diwali. The members start planning the theme, assigning roles to participants, collecting funds, finding sponsors, etc. However, this Yatra is solely run by the committee members, so even if we don’t get funds or sponsors, we leave no stone unturned to make the Yatra an unforgettable experience,” informs Shridhar.

How do you overcome the challenges while mobilising such a huge crowd or the ones posed by the ongoing Metro construction? “With the help of the police and socially responsible residents, there’s rarely ever trouble. The Metro personnel too have been accommodating and kind. In fact, last year, the tableau that represented Maharashtra at the Republic Day parade in Delhi was brought to Girgaon. The Metro guys helped us with the road measurements allowing us to plan in accordance with that,” he explains.

File Pic Courtesy Swami Vivekananda Yuva Prathisthan

Every year, the Yatra takes on a new flavour keeping in sync with the theme. “This year our theme is 350 years of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation. With the consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya earlier this year, we aim to express how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s rajya was Ram Rajya,” Shridhar shares.

An added attraction this year is the 22-foot tall Lord Hanuman idol holding the Gudi. The eco-friendly Hanuman murti made from paper is sculpted by Gitesh Pawar and Gaurav Pawar. Every cultural committee that participates in the Yatra makes contributions in its own way. Colourful rangolis adorning the path of the Yatra, youngsters performing mallakhamb, flash mobs, and a host of other cultural activities are lined up.

But, the Yatra isn’t just about residents dressing up to the nines and taking to the streets. The Yatra is a cultural thread that binds generations. Just like octogenarian Yashwanti and her GenZ granddaughter Seira, who have the advantage of watching the festivities unfurl from their home. “I have never participated in the Yatra but since childhood, I have always looked forward to it. Luckily, for me, I get to see the entire Yatra from my balcony. I love how everyone is dressed up and come together to celebrate the festival,” the young working professional adds.

The best part of the Yatra is the inclusivity. It brings people from different religions and various walks of life together. “Like last year, we saw a group performing bhangra and another one from Telangana showcasing their dance. So, it's not just the Maharashtrians that participate in this Gudi Padwa Yatra, others do too,” avers Girgaon resident Manoj M.
With the bustling neighbourhood gearing up for the Yatra on April 9, it serves as a poignant reminder of the values that bind communities together.

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