In Gujarat, Garba gets a political touch

In Gujarat, Garba gets a political touch

Gujarat is in the midst of a dancing spree, as it has always been during the nine-day Navratri festival, when people of all ages sway to the tunes of Garba.

Colourful attires, brighter lights and the loudest played music on modern gadgets have added sheen to the festivities over the years, to which youngsters of today have added selfis on smartphone.

Indeed, Gujaratis across the globe mark the nine-day festivals with traditional Garba dance as a tribute to Ma Amba.

The core religious belief has been sacrosanct, despite the festival changing with the times. On the face of it, this year’s Navratri festivities do not look different.

Youngsters donning dresses in vibrant colours and sporting tattoos are seen zipping across to different Garba venues in the city. The flawless steps and even the agreeable sways to the tunes is an indication of countless hours spent at Garba classes held ahead of the festival.

Garba at the well-lit housing societies are free for the residents, but dancing season is a serious money spinner for clubs and farmhouses that cash in on the only season when the urge to dance is contagious.

The full-blast festivities end in the cities at midnight, the deadline set by the local administration to stop playing music on loudspeakers, the sign of how garish they have become in recent decades.

Stripped of all modern paraphernalia, the festivities have a touch of tradition in Gujarat’s villages, where garbas without loud instruments have their own way of charming the visitors.

While this year’s Navratri may look enthusiastic as before, the biggest socio-religious event has also provided platform for political messages.

Paying heed to their leaders messages, Patel youths are seen sporting Patidaar caps in support of the reservation the community has been seeking, while pictures of their girls with T-shirts stencilled with reservation messages from Saurashtra are also becoming a common feature of this year’s celebrations.

In a bid to keep Muslim youths away from festivities, right-wing outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu sanghathan Yuva Morcha in Kutch district’s Mandvi town sought to purify Garba participants by smearing tilak on their foreheads and sprinkling cow urine on their persons.

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