Shiv Gajar Ganpati Dhol Pathak was one of the first Pathaks to start in Mumbai and it completed a decade this year with its band performances along with some praiseworthy social work. Let’s look at the journey of drums and charity of this band.
“We wanted to spread the knowledge about the culture of Maharashtra and eradicate social causes prevailing at that time but didn’t have the platform to start with,” said Pravin Utekar, one of the band's founder members in an interaction with Local Samosa. This is when Shiv Gajar Prathisthan was started in 2014 by a group of ten people with an ambition to promote the art and culture of Maharashtra and spread a social message. The founders thought of ways to support this idea which would bring in funds required to perform the social activities and amplify the cause to the masses. It was then they noticed there were very few Dhol Pathaks in Mumbai at that time and planned to start a band that would kill 2 birds with one stone – help amplify the cause and get funds for the social activity.
Through Hardships, they work for others
After taking classes from a friend who was a member of a Dhol Pathak in Pune and learning everything from scratch as only one member of the team was from a music background Shiv Gajar was started. “It was very difficult for us to establish ourselves in this space as it was a complete grey area for us,” Pravin mentions how difficult it was in the beginning with very few people and resources in this field. They gathered money from their savings and bought the instruments. Pravin adds, “We learned playing them and later teaching them to others and finally got our first order after many hardships.”
They gradually got bookings which helped them build a good network for social activities. Soon they started focusing more on the work they had started this band for, along with the vaadans (musical plays). All the money received from the performances is directed towards the social causes. Through the years, Shiv Gajar has focused on many issues such as HIV, plastic waste disposable and other environmental and health problems. “Our first activity was about helping the HIV kids with their basic necessities at the Desire Society – an orphanage for HIV kids in Goregaon, Mumbai,” says the co-founder of the band. Shishu Kalyan and other orphanages in Mumbai made it to the list along with the first project. Other projects include cleaning status on the road, beach clean drives, and other hygiene drives.
The Paryavaran Morya Project
Pravin further emphasizes the project that they used to carry out during the Ganesh Festival. 'One of the projects we undertook during Ganpati was the 'Paryavaran Morya Project,' which aimed to educate people about the environmental damage caused during the festival. The group organized drives and advised people to use eco-friendly idols instead of PoP idols. Competitions were also organized under this project for people to create eco-friendly idols, and the best ones were rewarded. In addition to these projects, the team made many donations to NGOs and foundations with the money they received from performances.
The band has done some remarkable work in its span of years but couldn’t carry out the activities due to COVID-19 in the past few years. This year they completed a decade of performing and carrying on the social work for the betterment of people. On this special occasion, the band said, “We are very happy to have completed 10 years. It's been a great journey with a few ups and downs.” Many people have left the band over the years due to personal commitments but they also have a team of young and enthusiastic people now which includes around 60 active members. The band reverbs as naad (resonance) with dhol-tashas and also the ethos of social cause.