It was dandiya season…

The last I went for a dandiya festival was when the feet were young, the heart was newly in love and the body was lithe. And then I went again the other day. After a gap of perhaps one and a half decades. The body had, in the interim, ossified the bones a bit, popped a sprog, and the supplefootedness with which I had leaped and twirled of yore, was, I was to discover in the course of the evening, to remain a thing of yore.
I decked myself out in a simple churidar kurta. With no dupatta. With a crossbody sling bag. And wore functional comfortable chappals. Why, you ask, kind reader? Because I was going to dance. Or so I assumed. I intended to dance alright. And so there we were. A group of five of us. None of us native to the land of Gujarat from where this dance originated, and a couple of us having seen the dandiya celebrations off the television screen and in real tangible, sweaty energy first hand for the first time ever. Falguni Pathak, the diva of dandiya songs was up on stage, belting out her popular numbers looking to all purposes like a blue robin’s egg topped with a little black dot which, from my perspective, seemed like it could be her hair topping the rest of her. I should have carried along a pair of binoculars or even opera glasses and done a Charulata to get a better look at her. But surely, the whirling dervishes, going round in concentric circles would have knocked me flat to the red canvas carpetted floor and continued to twirl and swirl on top of me, never pausing for a moment.
We reached there and all intentions of dancing were reduced to open mouthed gawping. There were people (majority of them weren’t even zygotes en utero when I came of legal age I must admit) who were dancing with the kind of energy that came from a steady intake of concentrated caffeine all day. They swirled and twirled and leapt and flung themselves about with some sort of vigour that at any other time in the calendar would have merited some babas being called over for jhaadh phoonkh and exorcism, so supernatural did it seem.
And then there was no space to move. The dancing space had been cordoned off by very belligerent group members who had (what preparation, it astounded me) come with ropes which were tied around the waists of group members who stood in huge square formation, blocking up huge chunks of space exclusively for themselves. So we stood in one spot, looked on and marvelled, like Ozymandias commanded. And nodded our heads to the music, between ducking away from the paths of flailing limbs and jumping garba dancers.
Was it fun? It was. For the hour or so I was there. Next year, I get my dose of Falguni Pathak from the live telecast.
The next day, we had the dandiya celebrations within our complex and that was more heartening for a non expert dancer. Danced the bhangra to dandiya music until my feet fell off with zero self consciousness and some more much to the embarassment of the child, who insisted I stand on the fringe of the dance floor and watch politely like the other mothers did. Ah well, the old bones still have it in them. Never mind the form of the dance.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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7 Responses to It was dandiya season…

  1. Age is just a number and dance be it Bhangra or Dandiya is a way to unleash the positive energy and the enthusiasm that you have within you.
    Yep..the not so old bones still have it in them…and it’s great to learn that you were part of this age old tradition.Nice blog.

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  2. sj says:

    LOL Kiran. A post close to my heart. We go every year here (well almost) in the US. Those native to the land of Gujarat look at us like we have two heads when in fact we have to left feet. šŸ™‚

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  3. dk says:

    way to go Kiranben!

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  4. Divya says:

    you should take me along. i’ll show you some cool dandiya moves šŸ˜›

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  5. Manreet Sodhi Someshwar says:

    Haha! Good one Kiran. I remember when work first took me to Gujarat and I savored dandiya for the first time in Ahmedabad, followed by Baroda and discovered to my immense surprise that within that 100 mile radius dandiya had evolved a distinctly unique Baroda-style! I survived both with my Bhangra-mimicking dandiya moves šŸ™‚ In my Bharat Mahaan, as I was to discover during that sales job, everything changed with every 100 kms, and yet, stayed the same.

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  7. Didn’t want to miss Garba, being the first time around here and attended a society garba. Wow, the twirls and swirls left me gaping. so wonderful and lovely. all the young and old, men and women, boys and girls came to dance and loved the way they put some decent garba music and not ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ which is what they did in my kid’s school and to say the least bit’ i was so appalled’. i tried to revive myself asking my girls – probably they just put the instrumental music and not the one with the singers on it and my daughters were like’ No No, they were singing’
    And i go to this society Garba and actually was happy to know that you get tons of good clean fun Garba dance music. Need to have a chat with the principal.

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