The Aarey Cultural Experience Is A Gateway To Mumbai’s Indigenous Traditions

The Aarey Cultural Experience Is A Gateway To Mumbai’s Indigenous Traditions
The Quint

Nestled within Mumbai's sprawling urban expanse lies the Aarey Milk Colony, a place that transcends its dairy-centric name to unveil a vibrant tapestry of culture and tradition. Amidst the city's relentless hustle and bustle, the Aarey Cultural Experience organized by Shrey Valecha, offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the indigenous Warli tribe and the intricate threads of their heritage.

Established in 1949, the Aarey Milk Colony was initially conceived as a dairy haven. However, beneath the façade of milk production, it harbors a rich historical heritage. Spread over 3,165 acres, Aarey has been enveloped by Mumbai's relentless expansion, but it retains its unique identity. It is home to 27 tribal hamlets, with an Adivasi population surpassing 10,000, coexisting harmoniously with over 290 species of flora and fauna. The Katkaris, Mahadev Kolis, Mallar Kolis, Warlis, and other indigenous tribes within Aarey engage in agriculture and animal husbandry, cultivating a variety of crops and preserving age-old traditions.

Aarey's culinary treasures unveil the essence of forest-based cooking, showcasing resourcefulness and simplicity. Recipes like 'vaste' or 'vaskal' feature river shrimps, bamboo shoots, tamarind, and other locally sourced ingredients, offering a tantalizing taste of the region's flavors. Tamarind, abundant in the wilderness, plays a central role in these recipes, often substituting for pulses due to their expense. Karande, a local aerial yam, holds a special place in their diet, its preparation demanding adherence to traditional methods. The first harvest of karande each year is offered to the gods during Diwali, reinforcing the deep connection between Aarey's cuisine and its spiritual roots.

Art, craft, and music in Aarey emanate from a wellspring of traditional wisdom passed down through generations. The walls, floors, and ceilings of homes in Aarey bear intricate Warli paintings, kept alive by skilled artists like Shital Bhoir. Her Warli artworks adorn not only walls but also canvas, paper, and even dried wild mushrooms. The Aarey tribal community's celebrations and festivals, such as Vagh Baras and Gaon Devi puja, stand apart from mainstream Indian culture, embracing a unique, nature-centric ethos.

The Aarey Cultural Experience offers a window into the remarkable culture and identity that flourish in this verdant oasis amidst urban Mumbai. It's a reminder that amid the rapid march of modernity, traditions endure, and the bonds with nature remain unbroken. As visitors explore the rich history, savour the diverse cuisine, and immerse themselves in the captivating arts of Aarey, they discover a profound appreciation for the enduring spirit of this unique enclave within the city.

Follow Shreya here and to book a slot for Aarey Cultural Experience on September 9, send a text on Whatsapp to 88503 49704‬.