This weekend, I struck off an item from my Bucket list of 2014. After years of pining for Gujarat’s garba and its Navratri festival atmosphere, I finally got to dance Garba.
Garba is the folk dance of Gujarat. During the navratri (Nav = Nine; Ratri = Nights) festival, dancers perform the Garba dance around a clay lantern with light inside (called Garbha Deep), or a figure of Goddess Shakti (Also called Durga/Amba). The dancers move around the lamp, or the Goddess’ image, in concentric circles from left to right. The dance is believed to be in the worship of the Goddess.
I went to Vadodara for Garba this year, because I think nothing can take the place of Garba in Gujarat. I went to the ‘United Way of Baroda’ garba that is one of the most popular Garba venues in Vadodara. I am glad I chose that venue because it was so full of energy and enthusiasm. I went to a few more venues as a viewer, but they didn’t match up to this one.
It was years back (more than 8 years, I think) when I last went to Garba. I didn’t really remember much. So, I watched some videos on youtube before going to the ground. The videos gave me a step to fall back on, although I wasn’t even sure I learnt it right. But, the actual learning was on the ground itself, when I joined the crowd of dancers. I watched them dancing, and in around 2 minutes, I was dancing the Trurn taali (3 clap) garba step with ease. It was awesome! Most of the people around me were performing Trurn taali (3 clap) and Dhodhiyo (6 step). The Trurn taali step is quite simple, but there are many other complicated dance moves. Dancers also keep making variations of the traditional garba moves, so each year there are some new steps performed by dancers.
Garba is a riot of colours with dancers wearing beautiful, and colourful traditional dresses. Some people even wear a different dress each day in the nine day period (with each day assigned a different colour dress). Many people practice garba steps for months before navratri starts. In the ground, when these enthusiastic groups of people dance to the tunes in perfectly choreographed dance sequences, it’s fun to watch. I found it amazing to be a part of an energetic, enthusiastic crowd dancing to the tunes beautifully. I was having such a great time, that I didn’t even realize I had already danced for an hour when all the dancers took a break for some snacks or chatting. Sadly, I couldn’t attend Garba all nine days because I couldn’t take more leaves from my work. But, next year, I am planning to take a week break to spend my whole navratri in Gujarat.
I love Gujarat, even more during Navratri. If you ever plan to visit Gujarat, do keep Navratri and Garba in your itinerary.