“Growing up, I used to visit my mum’s native place quite often, and there, in the village was this Banyan tree with a bench underneath it. Every evening, villagers gathered at this katta (bench), to talk about their day and drink chaha (tea). It was a moment that let them unwind and catch-up with friends. I wished to recreate that feeling and visual at our association’s events, and that’s how the idea of Chaha Katta was born.”, says Vishal Patil, President of the Auckland Marathi Association Inc (AMAI) on this uniquely named event organized for the Maharashtrian community in Auckland.

 

Over 200 people mixed and mingled with tea and vada pav at AMAI’s annual event, Chaha Katta, literally translated to stand for ‘tea on a bench’, a concept familiar to those who have been a part of the tea-stall culture in India. With an aim to provide a free, non-judgmental space for Maharashtrians across Auckland to meet and socialize, the event is the first in a series of programs planned by the association for this year.

Elaborating on the need for such an evening, Vishal said, “AMAI has been instrumental in bringing Marathi people together for over 26 years. Although never an obligation, having paid members helps us to plan events better and keeping the culture alive. Every year, at least Ganapati and Diwali have been celebrated with traditional dinner for members. This year, we’ll have cricket tournament and some new programs.

Our challenge is organizing events in all parts of the city e.g., east, west but we are restricted by limited affordable large venues in the city which are mostly in central suburbs.

Honestly, we want AMAI to be a platform for all Marathi people across Auckland. If there are some Marathi groups who want to organize something specific, we can help them get a venue and support with organizing the event. We are supported by the Ministry of Ethnic communities, Auckland Council, Auckland Indian Association and the High commission of India. That way all of us will still be under the same flag and the extended community can participate.

Last but not the least, I want credit for the event to go to our great committee and volunteer group who selflessly spend days to organize events for the community”

 

Held at Freemans Bay Community Centre, \the evening was a parade of interactive games with a side of discussions on mature themes like community safety and animal welfare. Detective Constable Amit Kale and Constable Vaibhav Shendge from New Zealand Police spoke to those present on tips of staying safe and vigilant in their cars and their neighbourhoods, being aware of online scammers, as well as urged everyone to reach out to Police in case of any emergency. Shruti Teke, animal lover and vet nurse, spoke about her love for animals and her Givealittle page, Pawsome Rescue where she is raising funds to run a rescue and rehabilitations service for animals.

 

This Chaha Katta event is followed by Natya Rajani 2021, three one-act Marathi plays developed for the theatre-loving Maharashtrian crowd. The plays are Tax-Free, written By Chandrashekhar Phansalkar and directed By Kaustubh Pethe, Lockdown- Ek Pravas, written & directed by Devadatt Paranjape and Tumchysathi Kaaypan!, written & directed by Gaurav Sawant.

 

The plays will be enacted at the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden, Auckland on August 21. Tickets for this event are now live and can be booked via the event’s Facebook page