For several young revellers in the city, Navratri is a chance to party for nine nights.
For dancers like Kavita Joshi, this evening is the start of serious battles as inter-group Navratri competitions take off.
“Dancing garba is not just my hobby, it’s my life. Wherever there is a Navratri dance, I am sure to be there,” said Joshi, a homemaker in her late 40s.
Her dance troupe, Kamal Nath Group, has been preparing for this season’s competitions for the last three months. “All the women participating are super-housewives,” the Vile Parle resident said. “We manage the family and housework and still make time for garba.”
With rehearsals, costumes and group morale to look after, garba teachers are as busy as their students.
“Running between home and class hardly leaves me with time to eat or relax,” said Ila Shah, 58, a trained classical dancer who is often invited to judge garba contests.
At her Sargam dance classes in Babulnath, young and middle-aged women sway energetically to traditional Gujarati tunes to prepare for the Kala Gujri contest at Vile Parle’s Bhaidas auditorium on Thursday. “The prize money can go up to Rs 12,000 and I am confident we can win,” Shah said.
Gujarati cultural organization, Nritya Kala Sagar, takes pride in being one of the few competition holders who provide a platform for senior citizens to perform.
“People think the elderly are no fun to watch, but they have boundless enthusiasm and the happiness on their faces when they dance is priceless,” said Heena Mehta, a member of the organisation, which will have 119 senior citizens participating in their competition at Bandra’s Manek Sabhagraha on Sunday.