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Cultural police absent this Navratri

india Updated: Oct 01, 2006 16:41 IST
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WITH THE so-called cultural police not wielding their lathis this year and the local administration having made adequate security arrangements, the nine-day Navratri festivities are all set to end on a peaceful note tomorrow.

Last year some organisations of the saffron brigade had issued fatwas about who should not visit garba venues or participate in the traditional dance, but they remained silent this time. Also, no complaints have been reported from any of the garba venues, thanks to the close circuit video monitoring and ID cards that had been made mandatory for the participants.

Additional District Magistrate Rameshwar Gupta has denied receiving any report or complaint of an unpleasant incident from any garba mandal. “The police officials keep vigil on the bigger events and monitor large crowds visiting pandals,” he said.

This year, garbas have been held at about 500 places in the City. They include 10 high profile events organised by big business houses. But what has been important is the undisturbed celebrations this Navratri barring few stray incidents.

“The festival was held peacefully without any disturbance from anti-socials,” says Luv-Kush Navdurga Utsav Samiti, Sukhliya, president Rahul Soni. He said the garba held at Luv-Kush garden are traditional where only girls perform.

In fact most of them restricted entry of men, specially from outside their locality while no such bar prevailed for girls or women.

Apart from peace, tradition ruled the roost. The oldest garba organisers like Lalgali Badi Garba Mandal (78-year old), Shiv Shakti Garba Mandal, Joshi Mohalla, Pankhida Group Race Course Road and the one at Navlakha stuck to traditional dance.

The music is essentially traditional with orchestras singing Gujarati and Rajasthani songs specially composed for garba. Organisers roped in artistes from Indore and Gujarat to lend a professional touch to singing. Dandia Raas, Manjira Raas, Ek Tali Raas, Do Tali Raas, Matki, Diya and Jhanjh Garba are some of the common performances at most venues.

The garba performances at certain places, however, have a modern twist. Abhay Prashal, Bal Vinay Mandir, Shanti Mandapam, Kanha Kunj garden are the venues where disco dandia were a popular number for past  eight days. There are free style garba on film songs towards the end of every day’s programme.

Another prominent factor has been the stalls set up at most garba venues. There are stalls of food, games, mehendi, tattoos, artificial jewellery that attract large crowds.

Garba costumes have been trendy and expensive this season. Gujarati College student Mayuri Kharate, for instance, has spent Rs 15,000 to buy jewellery and dress for dance festivities. Another collegian Niharika Dubey got her one dress designed from Mumbai for Rs 22,000. The dresses are typical but stylishly cut lehengas with Gujarati mirror work and matching

For freshers, garbas are venues to socialise and enjoy. But couple of year into garba-play, their enjoyment transforms into spiritual faith. Says college student Raj Bhagwat, “I used to go to garba programmes just for fun but developed faith in the festival over the years. Now I make it a point to visit temple during Navratri and perform Aarti.”

Beauty business
The beauty parlour business in the city has flourished with orders for garba dresses and jewellery that are being rented out during Navratri. Those who cannot buy expensive garba dresses hire from parlours.

“Most parlours stock four to five exclusive lehengas and jewellery in bright colours. The rental fee for a pair of lehenga is Rs 400-700 a day,” Shilpa Bhagwat of Febina Beauty Parlour at Navlakha remarked.

Some go for a kill. Sakshi of Aroma Beauty Parlour in Indrapuri Colony informed that lehangas are booked in advance and the average income from renting out jewellery and dress is Rs 3000-5000 everyday.

No wonder parlours remain overcrowded on all nine days of Navratri as girls get the make-up, hair styling and tattoos done for the daily performance at garba mandals.