Bollywood opulence, on the one hand, international business, on the other: Mumbai is India’s capital of commerce, finance and entertainment – and a city of cultural and linguistic contrasts. Since the area was settled by the Koli people thousands of years ago, numerous influences have shaped life in the city – from various indigenous rulers to the Portuguese colonial empire and the British East India Company..
The name also has a chequered history: the British colonial rulers derived the official name ‘Bombay’ from the Portuguese ‘bom baim’, which means ‘good bay’. This wasn’t changed to Mumbai until 1995 in a move to strengthen the region’s cultural identity. Mumbā or Mahā-Ambā is the name of the patron goddess of the indigenous Koli community as well as the patron saint of local fishermen and salt collectors – and ā'ī means ‘mother’ in Marathi, the official language of the State of Maharashtra.