Navratri 2020 without Garba in Gujarat: No Dandiya this year! Here’s why it’s a big deal

Garba has become a part of Gujarati folk which is a prerequisite for weddings and other celebrations.

Gujarat, for long has been known for its traditional dance garba- which is performed in a group of people during the Navratri and other important events including weddings. In the state, the nine-day long festivities are not complete without the dance and Gujarat is known for the sheer scale as well as the grandeur during these days. However, for the first time ever, the state will not have garba during the Navratri which is starting October 17. According to the latest guidelines issued by the state government, there will be no garba in Gujarat this year during Navratri.

The dance which originally was performed by women celebrating the femininity, fertility and the divinity of the Goddess Durga, has now become an act of celebration for all. From young children to old, dancing in circles while tapping feet and claps, has become a tradition in the state for all. A report by The IE citing Dhruti Mankodi of MS University’s famous Fine Arts Faculty Garbas said that the woman (Goddess) is believed at the center of the circle of life as a new life can originate from the woman. In order to mark this, garba is performed in a circle because it has no ends, further denoting that life begins, ends and sees rebirth as well. The lamps used while performing also points out that the Goddess can drive away the darkness and is responsible for replenishment of the world in nine nights, Mankodi said.

Since then, the dance has become a part of Gujarati folk which is a prerequisite for weddings and other celebrations. Now, something of this much significance among people has been prohibited this year due to the fear of deadly Coronavirus transmission and hence, it’s become difficult for Gujaratis to imagine Navratri without garba. According to health experts, the risk of Coronavirus transmission becomes too high if garba is organised and group performances take place. Notably, if people gather for garbas and dance in a closed group, that will not fit in the norms of social and physical distancing at a time where approximately 8 lakh people have been impacted by the COVID-19 infection across the country.

Meanwhile, according to the report, the garba festivities account for the commercial business of over Rs 7,000 crore annually. Many in the field of decoratorations, catering, those managing lighting, sound systems, LED screens, and others like singers and orchestra, security personnel, and others needed for housekeeping, parking agencies and valet services will be affected. The report highlighted that many depend on the festival for good earnings in the year and since there will be no garba, they will have to bear the brunt.

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