Friday, 11 May 2012

Asthika Samaj Mandir at Matunga, Mumbai

Matunga is the suburb famous for its south Indian cuisine.

Many years ago, my neighbor used to make early morning regular visit to this suburb and get huge idlis for me for breakfast. Idli came  with delicious coconut chutney and I would relish it. Soon I began to associate south Indian cuisine to Matunga. Many times I would request him to take me and once I did go to have idli sambar to a restaurant in one of those narrow lanes which was famous for its idlis.  The demography of this place was middle class South Indians and I had seen many women with long skirts, short blouses, and a transparent half saree wrapped over hips and chest. It was not as much developed as other parts of Mumbai like south Mumbai or western suburbs.

I have not visited Matunga for many years therefore I was not aware of the vast development that has occurred over the years.

Recently when I went, I was surprised to see big roads and broad foot-paths on the either side of the road filled with people carrying shopping bags. Huge, long shiny glass windows lined the street. Every store was crowded as if there were huge discount. I realized that we needed such kind of shopping areas in Bandra and at Versova too. In Bandra, we have too many street vendors who are always running across the street, jumping over dividers with their merchandise trapped in blankets, whenever they see the BMC van approaching, and they come back as soon as the van disappears. Sometimes the police collects their commission and lets them do their business on the street which results in heavy traffic jam on the linking road, with the traffic so slow that walking is the better option.

In Matunga, there were no street vendors outside these huge stores. Maybe the shopkeepers do not allow them to block the entrance to their shop.

It was pleasant walk with lot of breeze in this lane and suddenly I was distracted by huge life size statues of deities on the walls of the temple behind a huge Pipal tree. I was stunned by its beauty and asked the shop keeper about this beautiful building.

This is “Ashika Samaj Mandir” said the shop keeper.

Asthika Samaj was set up in 1923 as the public worship hall where regular offering to different deities are done by Pandas for a fee. The big Banyan tree outside the temple is believed to having fulfilled the desires of the devotees.

The Samaj also has a cultural auditorium inside the temple, where marriages, Upanayanams and other religious events are conducted by general public. Social functions such as marriages and other entertainment events are also held here.

I took few pictures and then continued with my shopping in the branded sari shop which had huge variety of sarees, suits and other clothing.

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The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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