Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her various forms. It is a major festival in Hindu calendar and celebrated all over India in myriad of ways. The celebration varies amongst states and region but the essence remains the same. It depends on the belief of people but the celebration is observed with great religious enthusiasm and the purpose is to show one’s adoration and devotion to Goddess of Shakti or power- Mata Durga and receive her blessings. North India observes the festival in a way completely different from the southern region of India. Again West Bengal glitters in entirely different way during the festive season of Navratri. In Gujarat it’s a nine day carnival with traditional and amusing dances, merry making, lights and music. The Garba dance, a popular folk dance of Gujarat is the centre of attraction of Navratri in Gujarat.
Garba Dance in Gujarat
Garba is a traditional folk dance in Gujarat performed on festivals and occasions like Navratri, Holi, Vasant Panchami and Sharad Purnima. The folk dance preformed on the nine nights of Navratri symbolizes the worship of Goddess Jagdamba(Durga). The word ‘Garba’ is derived from ‘Garbha Deep’, a lamp, which is placed inside a perforated earthen pot or Garba. The pot is illuminated by the lamp placed inside it, which represents embryonic life. Either the lamp or an image of Goddess Durga is placed in the middle of concentrated rings as an object of worship or adoration.
Garba Costume and Attire
Generally Garba dance is performed by women but now men also takes part in the performance. They wear colorful costumes while performing garba. Women wear chaniya choli, a three piece dress with a chaniya, choli and a dupatta, which is worn in a traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are colorful attires decorated with shells, beads, sitaras, mirrors and embroidery work. Women also adorn themselves with bindi, necklaces, chudas, kangans and payal.
Men wear kafni pyjamas with a kediyu, a short and round kurta above the knees with bandhini dupatta, kada and a pagadi on head.
Garba Dance Manner
In the primitive form of Garba, women place a pot ‘Garba’ with a lamp on head and move in circular motion. They sing simultaneously and clap their hands and match their circular steps very gracefully. The pot is filled with betel nut and a silver coin. On top of the pot a coconut is placed to make it appear like a holy ‘kumbh’. Generally folk instruments are played with the dance. According to a tradition in the interiors of Gujarat, women place the pot, with lamp inside it, at the centre on a stool and dance around it. They clap their hands and sing songs in the praise of Goddess Jagdamba.
Garba Dance outside India
A lot of interest and enthusiasm is involved amongst the youth in Gujarat. Garba in Navratri is the most colorful form of dance. Garba is also popular outside India especially in United States. Every year Raas Garba competition is held in universities with professional choreography. Garba is also popular in United Kingdom where Guajarati communities are found. They hold their own garba nights.