I am referring to Dandiya!
Here in UCLA, the Indian undergrads are an active lot. One way they have devised to bond with their old faraway roots in India, is by celebrating in colourful dresses and dancing! Ofcourse dancing with sticks!
I attended the Garba celebrations this time. It was an experience to recount.
A small idol of goddess Durga was placed in centre of the huge Ackerman Grand Ballroom, lights were lit, devotional songs were sung and the puja was done! The prasad comprised of dry fruits, nuts and M&Ms (Gems are its Indian counterpart).
And then the Dance began!
To the sounds and songs of a live band, singing popular bollywood numbers, youngsters of all shapes and sizes swayed themselves to the beats. The pace was fast, the steps simple yet graceful and completely impromptu. Anyone with enthusiam was invited to join. The circle moved around the goddess's idol. The girls were dressed in ornate ghagras, leghengas, sarees, while the guys wore kurtas or sherwanis and dupattas. It was extemely colorful to say the least.
And there were foreigners! Chinese and Americans who found the entire event highly motivating, stood in a circle trying to the pick up the steps and the sticks! Some of them wore kurtas, or even sarees!
I wore a saree myself. With help from my roommates, and pins in place, I gleefully joined the melee of circulating damsels and danced away merrily. Just when I thought I had got into the groove, some of my friends pulled me aside!
They wanted me to teach them the steps! A crash course later, me and my friends entered the loop. I don't know how disruptive we were, but definitely we had an amazing time!
The Dandiya, I have learnt is an art in self-defense. If someone has a hidden agenda against you, it's a great idea not to play dandiya with him/her. My friends passed on this divine knowledge to me and I came out alive and smiling!
I must admit, my enjoyment of garba in US is equal or more than that in India. Here, wearing a saree is a big thing! And dancing in it, even bigger!