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Dance and the city

Posted October 4th, 2019, 10:38 AM IST

Dance and the city

As Bengaluru revels in the nine nights of Navratri that are on until October 7, we suss out the celebratory spirit of the season and how dandiya is changing even as its essence stays intact

Glitz and glitter are on their way. Dandiya sticks, chaniya cholis and kedias are already in the stores. Musicians are getting geared up and the open-to-sky grounds are ablaze with festive lights. While all the arrangements are being done, the would-be revelers are practicing their steps for the Indhana winva song and others. Various event management companies have arranged for huge dandiyas at various places in the city that people are booking online.

Neel Sharma, business head, says, “Dandiya nights are just always super exciting with numerous people, Garba and authentic Gujarati stalls at the venue. I didn’t change my yearly tradition even after moving to Bengaluru. Everything is available in this city — I found the costume called a kedia in a store in Rajaji Nagar, which had an amazing collection for purchase or rent. We look past our cultural differences and come together to celebrate as one community. Some of the recent remixes or garba-influenced songs from Bollywood are equally foot-thumping. It’s fun getting your non-dancer friends to move to the beat of a Gujarati song.”

The event managers have anticipated changes in what people enjoy, and the wave of traditional music is mixed with more modern beats, and dandiya sticks are now available in neon. As an active participant of the dandiya scene since the age of three (!) Bengaluru-based event manager Janvi Rajpopat has interesting insights into what is different and what stays the same. She says, “Falguni Pathak is an all-time favourite till today. But music scenes have changed a lot in the past years. Before Navratri, many Bollywood movies release songs with garba-dandiya beats and the crowd wants to just listen to those. With new people moving to the city every day, we have various cultures coming in and enjoying the festivities. The crowd increases every year and you see them following the traditional dress code and paying respect to the Goddess.”

Janvi, who has never skipped dandiya down the years, shares, “I even danced last year while I was three months pregnant. The most memorable one was when I was crowned the best dancer for the night and I played all night, despite the fact that I had to go write a geography paper the next day!” she chuckles.

Debolina Ray, product manager at a tech company, says, “Garba songs as well as tracks like Dholida Dhol Re Vagad and Tara Vina Shyam Mane are essentials on the dandiya playlist. There are also a lot of folk and dandiya songs that have been featured in movies and are hugely popular because people know those songs and their peppy beats. The main transformation has definitely been in terms of the music, and how it has become more mainstream with these dance hits being included. It’s a lot of fun doing the dandiya raas. There’s some stepping on feet or an accidental jab of the dandiya stick — but that’s fun too, taking everyone along with the spirit of the season!”