Mumbai Festival 2024: Does The City Need Another Cultural Festival?

Mumbai Festival 2024: Does The City Need Another Cultural Festival?

The Mumbai Festival is the latest to join the unending carousel of cultural extravaganzas in Mumbai that includes the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Kasmin FernandesUpdated: Friday, January 19, 2024, 04:55 PM IST
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This January, the city has decided to throw every festival it can think of. We’ve got the Mumbai Sanskriti Festival, the Mumbai Gallery Weekend, and now the Mumbai Festival that kicked off on January 20. Maharashtra Tourism has ingeniously consolidated various events under the expansive canopy of the Mumbai Festival. Set to end on January 28, it will encompass an array of activities including the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF), Happy Streets, Windmill Festival, Yoga by the Bay, Kashish Chalchitra Utsav, Lollapalooza Music Festival, Tata Mumbai Marathon, and Aarogyam Kidzathon. In addition to these, Mumbai Festival will feature music concerts and beachside activities. Concurrently, major events like the Maha Mumbai Expo and Tourism Conclave will take place, alongside a shopping fest and a dedicated cricket zone. The initiative, led by Anand Mahindra, aims to amalgamate all the unique offerings of the city into this singular, grand festival.

More the merrier

Between dodging traffic, surviving the local trains, and the general business of existing in a megacity, it’s a wonder anyone has the energy to even think about attending a festival. Do Mumbaikars really have the bandwidth to attend all these festivals? “Yes, the more the merrier,” says singer Jashan Bhumkar who is singing love songs “through the ages” from the subcontinent. His ensemble will perform love songs from 1,000 years ago to now, spanning Bollywood, Sufi, Hindustani classical, ghazal and folk music on January 28 at the Kala Ghoda Festival (which ironically has also collaborated with the fest). Jashan says, “So many festivals are being organised because people want to go out and enjoy themselves. We say Gen Z is addicted to Reels but they actually want to see and experience new things. Most of these events are extremely well attended. Multiple festivals and platforms make space for every genre of performers, actors and dancers.”

Cultural buffet

Some believe Mumbai is less of a melting pot and more of a cultural buffet these days. You’ve got your traditional Indian art over here, some indie music there, and a wild Lollapalooza appears under the umbrella of the new Mumbai Festival. “Even if it takes longer, they should carve out a distinct identity for themselves. They should have a standalone festival which does not ride on the coattails of Kala Ghoda or Lolla. I'd rather see them focus on the unique culture of Maharashtra and the city. Without focus, it becomes a mere curiosity for passersby,” says festival goer Krishna Mattoo, who has been a regular at the city’s cultural events for four decades.

Now, onto the sustainability claims. While zero waste is an ambitious goal and beach clean-ups don’t harm, festivals like these can strive for waste reduction through strategies like providing water refill stations to reduce plastic bottle usage, using compostable cutlery and plates, and ensuring proper segregation of waste. It’s not just about reducing the amount of waste but also managing it responsibly. Content writer Ratna Bhave plans to attend Kashish and visit the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) and is concerned about the traffic and pollution, “Transportation to and from the festival can be a major contributor to its carbon footprint. Encouraging public transport, providing shuttle services, or even incentivising carpooling can significantly reduce this impact,” Bhave shares.

Why did Kala Ghoda join the fray?

Says Brinda Miller, honorary festival director, KGAF, “When Anand Mahindra first approached the committee members many years ago about collaborating on a previous version of the Mumbai Festival, they turned it down. This time, when he asked if we were open to working together, we agreed, seeing it as a win-win situation for everyone involved. It’s definitely an advantage for the new festival. This was our first time partnering with the government, and it presented us with a larger platform, extending our reach beyond Mumbai. We don’t see ourselves as gatekeepers; we’re open to collaboration with anyone.”

Considering Mumbai’s love for celebrations and the fact that the city’s motto at this point seems to be “go big or go home,” this fest will fit right in. At the end of the day, if there’s space on the calendar and enthusiasm in the hearts of Mumbaikars, there’s room for one more festival. After all, in Mumbai, there’s no such thing as too much celebration.

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