In the 17th C. Mumbai was a fishing community consisting of 7 islands. When it came under British rule, they recognized its potential as a valuable deep-sea port and instituted large-scale civil engineering projects to connect the islands. This development brought in people from all over India. Cultural and religious differences resulted in discord, and even violence.
In the slums where the artisans live, people from different religions, castes and regions live side-by-side, but do not really intermingle. Most of the artisans came to Mumbai after marriage, moving from their villages to Mumbai, a strange and large city, without their families and often with little support from their husbands.
In the cooperatives they developed bonds of companionship and understanding where differences in religion and custom are not only tolerated, they are respected. Whatever their faith, all the artisans celebrate the major Hindu festivals of Holi, Navratri and Diwali together; they fast for a day during Ramadan; and they decorate for Christmas. The ties that bind these women are stronger than their differences.