FOLK DANCES OF INDIA – GARBA
Garba is an Indian form of dance that originated in the Gujarat region. The name garba comes from the Sanskrit term Garbha (womb) and Deep (a small earthenware lamp). Many traditional garbas are performed around a central lit lamp or picture or statues of different avatars of Goddess Shakti. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally it is performed during the 9 Day Hindu festival “Navaratri”. Either the lamp (the Garba Deep) or an image of the Goddess Durga (also called Amba) is placed in the middle of concentric rings as an object of veneration.
In this Festival, both men and women usually wear very colorful costumes while performing garba and dandiya, which is another folk dance of Gujarat. The girls and the women wear Chaniya – Choli, a three-piece dress with a choli (the blouse), a chaniya (as the flared, skirt-like bottom) and dupatta ( a long peice of cloth also called odhani), which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, sitaras, and embroidery work, mati. Traditionally, women adorn themselves with jhumkas, necklaces, bindi, bajubandh, chudas and kangans, kamarbandh, payal, and mojiris. Boys and men wear kafni pyjamas with a kediyu – a short round kurta, above the knees and pagadi on the head with bandhini dupatta, kada, and mojiris (special Gujarati footwear).
Garba is performed in a circle as a symbol of Time. The rings of dancers revolve in cycles, as time in Hinduism is cyclical. As the cycle of time revolves, from birth, to life, to death and again to rebirth, the only thing that is constant is the Goddess, that one unmoving symbol in the midst of all of this unending and infinite movement. The dance symbolizes that God, represented in feminine form in this case, is the only thing that remains unchanging in a constantly changing universe.