Mumbai is said to be a cosmopolitan city because over the years it has developed into a ‘commercial hub’. However, since this city belongs to the state of Maharashtra, it comprises of essentially what can be termed as a ‘Marathi Culture’. Now, for those who do not live in the city the question that will surely arise in the mind is, what is this culture, and in what way does it connect to the city of Mumbai? To answer this question here is then presenting you facts which will illustrate its connection to the city locals refer to as ‘Aamchi Mumbai’, which means our Mumbai when translated.
a. What is Marathi Culture, and how is it connected to Aamchi Mumbai:
The culture has essentially emerged from the state of Maharashtra. It is therefore because Mumbai is an integral part of the state that, the city encapsulates its essence. Now, this city is connected to this culture (which can also be referred to Maharashtrian) via lifestyle, which can be further divided into food, dramatics i.e. theater and movies, festival, and language.
b. The role of ‘Food’ in the Marathi Culture and its connection to Aamchi Mumbai:
‘Variety’ is the word that best describe the food available in this culture. So, be it a full lunch, dinner, breakfast, snacks, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian fare you find it all. And so, in the day-to-day life in Mumbai delicacies such as Pohe, Upama, Sabudhana Khichadi, Vada Pav, and Pav Bhaji are consumed either as breakfast or as snacks during teatime in the evening. With regards to a wholesome meal in the city, vegetarian local fare typically includes a chapati, salad known as koshimbir, curry in the form of dal, leafy vegetable such as spinach, papad, and rice. While non-veg includes items such as: rice, malvani chicken/fish curry, and kombdi vade. Furthermore, typical Maharashtrian drinks and desserts such as Kokum sarbat, solkadi, shikran, sugar cane juice, puran poli, aamras, shrikhand, amarkhand, and basundi are consumed by the ‘Marathi Manus’ (Common Man) in Mumbai.
c. The role played by ‘Dramatics’ in the Marathi Culture, and its connection to Aamchi Mumbai:
‘Literature’ has been an integral part of this culture for centuries now. As a result, dramatics i.e. theater and movies have strongly influenced the common man (marathi manus) in the city. So, with regards to theater in the city there have been a number of playwrights such as Vijay Tendulkar, Mahesh Eklunchwar etc that have tasted success. The flocking of large number of people to auditoriums, has led to rise of many talented theater actors such as Dr. Shriram Lagu, Nana Patekar, Dr. Mohan Agashe etc. As for movies, the vibrant theater and availability of rich literature has ensured its success and longevity. In fact, many movie directors such as Mahesh Manjrekar, Nishikant Kamath have acted on stage before directing a movie. Furthermore, like the theater we have seen fine actors such as Sachin Khedekar, Nana Patekar, Sandeep Kulkarni etc also emerge onscreen.
d. The role ‘Festival’ in the Marathi Culture, and its connection to Aamchi Mumbai:
There are many ‘festivals’ celebrated in this culture, among which the most unique is Ganesh Chaturthi. Historically speaking, this festival was first initiated by Maratha king Shivaji. However, it was during the 19th century in pre-independent India that freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak encouraged people in the state of Maharashtra to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi festival publically. He championed this form of celebration to rebel against the ban imposed on public gatherings by the British government. Ever since then this festival has been celebrated with great fanfare in Mumbai. It essentially includes bringing home or on a public platform (to worship) an idol of Lord Ganesh, for a period ranging from a minimum of 1.5 to a maximum of 11 days. On the final day, the idol is brought to the sea with lots of music and dance accompanying it, and finally immersed.
e. The role ‘Language’ in the Marathi Culture, and its connection to Aamchi Mumbai:
The use of the language ‘Marathi’ plays a huge role in connecting this culture to Mumbai. This can be seen by the frequent use of the language in government offices, police stations etc. In fact, many migrants who have lived in the city for a long period can converse fluently in Marathi. In addition, most of them by speaking to locals in their language also have formed an unbreakable familial bond over a period of time.
So, no matter how much more multicultural ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ becomes, the connection it shares with the Marathi Culture shall always remain strong.