A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

You cannot understand the true nature of Garba until you have visited Gujarat during the Navratras. It is not just about the dance. It is not just about the music. It is much much more than that. It is the entire atmosphere that has an underflowing rhythm that everyone seems to be tuned in to. The rhythm is not just heard in the Garba Pandals, but all over Ahmedabad, all through the day. The entire city is pulsing to its tune. 

A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

The word Garba derives from the Sanskrit word "Garbha", which means the womb. The "Garbha" is symbolized by a lamp (Garbha Deep) or an image of the Goddess Durga, placed at the center. The Garbha or the Garbha Deep symbolises the divine presence inside each human being. 

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A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

The dance itself is a sight to behold. Dancers form concentric circles around the Garbha while they dance in sync. The circles revolve around the Garbha andthis entire concept symbolizes the unchanging divine surrounded by an ever-changing universe. 

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A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

Each Garba pandal is divided into several sections and you have to purchase tickets to enter the best areas. And most of the good pandals are expensive. However, if you don't want to dance the Garba, you can simply watch it from the viewing areas. Reach early to grab the best viewing positions.

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A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat


It seems all Gujaratis know the Garba really well because all dancers dance in perfect sync and seem to know all the steps. If you keep watching for some time, you start feeling that you too can probably dance to the tune. If you are even a little good at dancing, let me warn you, you will be tempted to join the crowd. Buy a ticket in advance if you are in this category.

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A Harmony of Color, Glitter, Music, and Fast-Paced Dance Moves || Traditional Garba in Navratras, Gujarat

The Garba music too is quite a sensation. There is a competition in the organizers to hire the best Garba singer for their evenings. Stars such as Falguni Pathak charge as much as 1.1 Crore for an evening. Ismail Darbar charhes nearly 80 Lakhs for an evening. 


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And at times Dandiya too performed in the Garba Pandals. While Dandiya involves two wooden sticks, Garba does not. Garba is usually performed to devotional songs whereas Dandiya is also known as Dandiya-raas and is associated with Krishna and his gopis. Dandiya is performed to all kinds of music. The hybrid of Garba and Dandiya has led to the fast-paced dance that we see today.  

If you visit Gujarat, especially Ahmedabad, during the Navratras, you should not only visit the pandals, but also the night market where you will find rows of shops selling chaniya-choli (traditional garba attire for women) and Kediyu (traditional garba attire for men). The number of shops in one market makes you wonder who buys these clothes year after year. One would think that the local people would have several sets stacked away. And yet these markets are crowded, with people buying stuff, left, right, and center.


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We visited several pandals when we visited Ahmedabad and each one has a mood of its own. Some even have little Jhankis and they are usually sponsored by some big businessmen and politicians. And they are crowded. However, it still feels like a safe space for both men and women. This is the culture of Gujarat. 

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People of all age groups dance the Garba, dressed in the traditional attire. You find entire families dancing together with the same devotion, right from the teenage daughter/son to the new couples, to older people. It is an amazing experience, indeed. 

Therefore, you might visit a Dandiya pandal somewhere in Delhi or anywhere else in the world, but until you have been to Gujarat in Navratras and seen the dandiya or Garba there, believe me, you haven't really experienced it. 

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