This Navratri, most revellers across the city will give up their wooden dandiyas and groove to the rhythmic claps of garba. With professional garba classes getting more popular with each passing year, festival organisers have noticed a trend where several dancers are opting for the traditional Gujarati garba instead of the dandiya dance.
“We always stock at least 10,000 dandiyas for the public, but in the past five years, we have observed that many youngsters prefer doing the garba,” said Devendra Joshi, organiser of the popular Sankalp Navratri at Goregaon (East). Joshi added the dandiyas craze was at its peak about a decade ago. “Now, because of the dance classes, people have realised that garba steps are more graceful,” he said.
Dance teacher Gopi Mehta, who has been holding both garba and dandiya classes in Ghatkopar for the last 20 years, said dancers are drawn towards the versatile quality of garba.
“Dandiya has just one style, and people are tired of it. But, there is a craze for garba because it can be performed in so many styles,” said Mehta, who has seen a rise in the number of people enrolling for garba classes every year.
Even among youngsters, who comprise the maximum crowd at Navratri events, the enthusiasm to do garba is palpable this year.
“Garba is a free-dance form, just like hip-hop. And, unlike dandiya, which requires forming pairs, garba can be done in a huge group,” said Jigar Nisar, 18, who will dance at the Mithibai College garba event.
Most affected by the changing trend are dandiya stick vendors in the city. They blame the rising prices of dandiyas for the drop in customers. “The market used to be a buzzing during Navratri season, but now very few vendors sell dandiyas,” said Vasant Lonare, a dandiya vendor at the Gujarati-dominated Bhuleshwar market. “A dandiya bundle that cost Rs 150 five years ago now costs Rs 500.”
Ketan bhai, a dandiya vendor from Vile Parle, said it is mostly foreigners who enjoy dancing with dandiya sticks these days. The regulars prefer garba. “While Indians are moving towards traditional garba, the foreigners find sticks more fascinating,” added Ketan.