garba dance

I usually don’t post too many things from my own life, but I thought I’d share this short video I put together from yesterday when I went to an Indian garba dance night. Sorry for the suck quality

Quick lesson, Garba Raas is a traditional dance from Gujrat, a province in West India, where it’s heavily popular for its riveting upbeat tunes and fast-paced steps. Seriously, you can lose 5 lbs in a day doing this. It also includes dancing with sticks, like this scene from Bride and Prejudice.

 The event was part of a big concert where one of my favorite singers from my childhood, Falguni Pathak, came to sing on stage while the audience got into groups to dance the night away. Garba is not easy, and me being from East India, this is not something I grew up with in my culture. Naturally, me and my squad were total novices, but we picked up most of the steps quickly thanks to some of our Gujrati friends. Let me tell you though, these folks have been dancing this since they learned how to walk, so it was mesmerizing to see them all in sync and just knowing where they were spinning. I did my best to capture all the beautiful moves and colors, and hey, you can even spot me in there too (I’m the one spinning with my friend midway through, and in the clips all the way to the end). Truly it was a long, energetic, and fun night, and I hope others are able to experience this dance as well. 

More garba: LINK

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N A V R A T R I   I S   C O M I N G 

Besides picking out our best new outfits and readying ourselves to dance the night away, let’s not forget that Navratri is about celebrating, invoking and devoting our minds and bodies to Devi Maa. Navratri marks the period in which Maa Durga’s nine forms are worshipped on the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Ashvin. Welcoming autumn and in preparation for the winter months, the Vedic texts tell devotees to fast to strengthen our immune systems and invoke the Goddess. In Northern and Western Indian states, specifically Gujarat, devotees come together for Garba, a whirling traditional dance circumambulating Devi Maa’s murti. Raas, a dance where sticks are clanged together with multiple partners acts as a mock-fight between Maa Durga and the demon Mahishasur, who was destroyed on these very days.

On fasting for Navratri, Hindus don’t refrain from eating at all, but rather eliminate certain foods. These are foods to absolutely avoid if you wish to perform the Navratri fast, lasting either all nine days or for just the last two days of the festival:

  • Onion and Garlic
  • Lentils and Legumes
  • Common salt (rock salt or sendha namak is used instead)
  • Turmeric (haldi), Mustard (sarson/rai), Asafoetida (hing), Fenugreek (methi), Dhania (coriander) and Garam Masala
  • Rice, rice flour, white flour (all purpose), semolina (suji), gram flour (besan)
  • Alcohol and Non-Vegetarian food 

Ghatashthapana

In addition to fasting, many deep clean their homes and mandirs and install a Ghatashthapana. This is a special Kalaash (pot and coconut preparation) in which barley seeds grow underneath during the nine days of Navratri to bring good fortune to your home and family, and to please God. The growing of the ghatashthapana cultivates shakti (spiritual power); the taller the sprouts grow, the more Devi Maa is pleased by our devotion and offerings.

So, from October 13th to October 21st, find a Raas-Garba near you, grab your dandiyas, wear your best outfits and turn your attention towards our Divine Mother!

An Indian girl wearing traditional attire poses for photographers as she along with others perform the Garba, a traditional dance of western Indian state of Gujarat, as part of preparation for Navratri festival in Ahmadabad, India. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)