Khilani of the Ghatkopar Gujarati Samaj said, “Over the years, we have found it very difficult to get sponsors to back us.
Khilani of the Ghatkopar Gujarati Samaj said, “Over the years, we have found it very difficult to get sponsors to back us. The 10pm deadline had already put a dampener on the festival, and now, for the first time in 18 years, I am forced to stop organizing garba altogether.”
Morabiya, another big-ticket organizer for the past 25 years, has thrown up his hands as well. “My event was mostly sponsored by the real estate industry, which is reeling under recession. The rates for ground hire and orchestra have become astronomical. Last year also, we did not have a sponsor, but a few friends managed to put together the event. Now, it is impossible.” Morabiya said his season tickets remained constant at Rs 300 for the last 25 years because he did not want Ghatkopar residents to go outside the suburb.
A leader of the pack in Mulund, Mihir Kotecha of the BJP, has also called off his event. “A combination of factors is killing off festivals like dahi handi, Ganeshotsav and Navratri. We organize grand celebratio-ns expecting 10,000 to turn up, but is it practically possible to host an event with 10,000 under 65 decibels? Just at Dadar station, the noise is around 95dB. The 10pm deadline has already made it impossible for working people to enjoy the festival.”
The man who made dandiya the phenomenon that it is, Devendra Joshi of Sankalp, had stopped organizing the event after his partnership with dandiya queen Falguni Pathak ended five years ago. “ I am shocked to learn that Ghatkopar does not have a single garba this year. Corporate sponsors have almost exited the festival since the last couple of years because a slow economy has resulted in stagnant sales. New organizers are unable to position and market Navratri as an event. They must understand that this a cultural and religious festival, not merely business. The festival is also coming under tremendous pressure from various government departments. A mega star like Falguni may not have a problem gathering crowds, but the sad part is that the festival on the whole is losing its tempo,” he said.