FOR MANY years, the annual Diwali get-together at the mayoral bungalow at Shivaji Park has been a tradition that staffers, media and politicians enjoy. With the Shiv Sena keen to see work begin on the proposed Bal Thackeray memorial at the site, Friday’s get-together and cultural evening will likely be the last time the event is held at the heritage seafront bungalow.
The mayor’s official residence is slated to be moved to a bungalow behind the zoological garden in Byculla, which also has a sprawling garden spread across 6,000 square feet.
While festivities will continue, senior party leaders agreed that the view will be sorely missed once the mayor’s residence is shifted to Byculla. “Now that the trust for it has been formed, the work on the memorial will definitely begin before next Diwali, which means that this will be the last Diwali dinner at the Shivaji Park bungalow,” said a senior Sena leader.
The mayor of Mumbai organises the get-together for about 150 news reporters and photographers, senior party leaders and officials. Invitations for the event go out to corporators across party lines, and even to Members of Parliament and the Legislative Assembly.
The cultural programme at the Shivaji Park bungalow has traditionally been a high-point of the year, with performances including once, a man who played the piano with his head, and another artiste who strummed tunes using the teeth of a comb.
The mayor’s bungalow is a heritage building purchased by the BMC in 1962, and offers a scenic view of the Dadar-Chowpatty beach. The members of the public trust appointed by the state government met here on October 5. The civic body is waiting for a formal communication from the state, after which it will hand over the bungalow to the trust. The future residence of the mayor in Byculla has been vacant for more than a year and is undergoing repairs.
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