Autumn is the season for the holy festival of Navaratri for many Hindu Indian communities. Navaratri honors the Hindu goddess of victory, Durga, and her stories told in various forms across different regions of India, but with the common theme – the triumph of good over evil. For the Gujarati Indian community, Navaratri brings one of the most popular celebratory folk dances into the spotlight – Garba and Dandiya Raas.
Back in 2016, I had the pleasure of attending one of such dances at a concert in New Jersey, with the appearance of a popular Gujarati folk and Bollywood singer, Falguni Pathak. Let me first say that as a full-blooded Indian who is not Gujarati ( I identify as a Bengali Indian), dancing to Garba was like taking on a whole new cultural experience that I barely knew. That comes to show how diverse Indian cultures can really be – A Bengali like me who hails from the East of India has little knowledge of the ways of the West, where Gujaratis are from.
Nevertheless, after some effort and a lot of patience, I was able to pick up some moves and join in as many circles I could find. Let me also add that there is a certain degree of movements that you have to become familiar with before doing Garba, especially when the circle starts moving in one direction and then completely changing the next! It is an extremely fast-paced and energetic dance style that can leave you losing five pounds by the end (I highly recommend this as a work-out. Really, why aren’t Zumba people picking up on this?), and yet the rhythms and beats will take you on a ride of a lifetime.
If anyone gets the chance to attend one of these events, whether for the festival of Navaratri or even Holi, the festival of colors in the Spring, please go for it! It’s worth being on the bucket list, plus you get to wear glittery authentic outfits!
This was my experience. I hope you have yours too!