T he nine-day, world’s longest dance festival is back – with new steps, styles, music and venues, and more heartache and some heartbreaks.
Navratri each year has something new to offer. This time, people are preferring society garbas with smaller crowds, common friends, only couple of hours of dancing and Law Garden-style fare.
Although well-known orchestras keep up the tempo at city clubs, it’s tough to get few inches of space for dancing to them. Each of the bigger plots house 8,000 to 10,000 people, but government-organised garba at GMDC Grounds tops them all with nearly 70,000 people dancing.
Theme-based restaurants like Vishala and Chokhi Dhani have the rustic elements going for them, giving customers an opportunity to do garba as well.
But what haven’t changed are the all-time favourites, backless choli and low-cut chaniya. The clothing flavour of the season was young girls and their ghagra from below the navel, flaunting their midriffs with tattoos all over. Lime and the favourite yellow trounced other colours on the attire. Black and rani pink were thrown in to add to the jazz. Oxidised silver jewellery has been replaced by bling and then some more of it, and zardosi work in the costumes as well. All that style, colours and music makes for a heady concoction, which ultimately leads to swoons and then some heartbreaks. There already has been written a lot about abortion rates going in the Navratri season.
Meanwhile, several new steps have made their presence felt this year. Chinese bhel (a six-step mixture), Krishna (basically Lord Krishna’s posture) and some aerobic-style hip-hop and then, Mumbai style are much in vogue.
Previous year’s Macarena is still a rage among youngsters. Typically, the orchestra is organised to first perform the aarti, then the do taali, and the dhodio and the papettiyo followed by the ever-popular teen taali and the heech. After a short refreshments break, raas numbers are sung. At most venues, raas is no longer popular and they continue with the aforementioned steps. Dhodio is by far Gujarat’s favourite step. The orchestra then ends with a crescendo with either Sanedo or Bollywood medleys with a sprinkling of Rajasthani and Bhangra flavour to it.
Amdavad on these days is abuzz till late hours into the night. Traffic jams are witnessed till midnight! However, there are an equal number of non-performers on the streets, wondering from where do revelers get the energy to dance the nine nights after working the days.
People dance all over the world, and beverages to go with it is a much-accepted combination. Navratri shows how the young and old dance with fervour and without external recourse to alcohol. People attribute this fervour to religion to faith that Goddess Shakti will destroy all evil. Others just love to dance to the beat of the dhol. The nine nights are a treat to dancers; days they await for the entire year.
The writer is an entrepreneur and educationist