This Navratri, Gujarat has claimed its own Commonwealth Games. It wasn’t a sporting event but the biggest garba celebration – Swarnim Navratri 2010, which also marked the golden jubilee of Gujarat.
The state came into a existence separate from Mumbai in 1960 and the biggest Navratri festival was organised to mark the event.
Organised by top industrial houses and supported by the state, and held from October 8 to 16, the event spread over a kilometre in the GMDC grounds at Memnagar. Many residents nicknamed it as Ahmedabad’s CWG. The festival is considered a major tourist attraction, marketed as the ‘world’s longest dance festival’, spread across nine days. As many as 40, 000 people attended the event, including 18 ambassadors from countries such as Peru, Argentina, Nepal, Albania, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Cambodia and Ukraine.
The function was inaugurated last Sunday with chief minister Narendra Modi making a ‘show-stopper’ entry, a dance-drama and a multimedia performance by over 300 artists. Organised on a big scale with a rock concert-like stage, a massive theme pavilion depicting Gujarat’s Champaner – a world heritage site, a photo gallery depicting the state’s tourist spots, crafts bazaar, food courts, adventure sports and fireworks, the event cost its organisers a cool R5-6 crore this year. Commonwealth Garba, anyone?
The state’s newest brand ambassador — actor Amitabh Bachchan’s ad-reel bellowing in a loop — kept the audience occupied till the function began, fashionably late. The ‘cultural’ fiesta that ensued after the CM’s address was nothing short of a lavish Bollywood musical with more than 300 artists who lip-synced and performed traditional dances. The event culminated with the maha arti.
Besides Gujarat, other states such as Rajasthan, Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab were also showcased. This is a recent feature, a senior tourism department official told HT, adding this was an attempt to ‘project national integration’. “We want to highlight how other states celebrate and pray,” he said.