Navratri means Nine Nights. While this festival is celebrated by different states in different ways, the most colourful (and closest to my heart) is the Gujarati way of celebrating. Navratri is the most vivid and lively festival of Gujarat during which the Garba dance is performed by one and all with a lot of vigour. This dance is performed in circles around lit lamps and deity statues. The dance starts with an aarti in the evening and goes on till late at night. The last day, people dance till the wee hours of morning.
Different colours represent the various 9 days. Many girls fast during the whole tenure.
The graceful dance is performed in circles by claps, waving of hands and often sticks, known as Dandiyas. I find Garba a very energetic yet stylish dance. All gujjus seem to be born garba experts. Over time, Garba has turned glamorous. The girls are more beautiful, their dresses are more chic and their dance is more sensuous.
I am blessed to be in Vadodara during this Navratri. Vadodara has some best Garbas of Gujarat. When I was in school, I participated in this dance regularly and won prizes. Thereafter, I moved to Maharashtra for further studies and work. After almost 15 years, I am going to be a part of this splendid celebration again. The eruption of festivities and preparations combined with the awareness that I am spending my last few days in Gujarat was enough to compel me to jump into this madness head on.
I have visited exhibitions, shopped, made plans and discussed excitedly about it all with friends, neighbours and colleagues. The excitement has surely caught on.