Dandiya nights reach 
a crescendo in Dubai

DUBAI — Helly Shah eagerly waits for Navratri, the nine nights of dance, fun and laughter every year. With meticulously chosen attire that shows off the colours of youthfulness and matching jewellery, she takes more than two hours to get prepared for the festivities.

By Deepa Narwani

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Published: Mon 18 Oct 2010, 12:14 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:28 PM

Helly is not alone in her waiting for the nights of jamboree. Navratri are the days when the Indian expatriate community in Dubai, especially the Gujaratis for whom it is their native festival, gears up to groove all night. It’s a chance for everyone to let their hair down and have a ball.

To cater to the large Indian expat crowd, there are various venues in town where Navratri is celebrated. The Parajiya Soni Samaj’s nine-day celebrations at the Sudanese Club will be concluded today. Festivities ended yesterday at the India Club and the Country Club organised an event in Mamzar Park this weekend.

Dandiya Raas and Garba are the cultural dances performed during Navratri. Dandiya Raas is where two people use colourful sticks and perform circular movements. Garba is performed by a group of people in a circle, their arms making sweeping gestures and each movement ending in a clap. But in most of the places, the traditional dance is combined with a lot of modern day influences.

The same is the case with music. Along with the traditional vibrant Gujarati songs, a lot of Hindi pop songs and remixes, and in some cases English club music, are played to attract the younger crowd. “The music is a mix of traditional and Bollywood,’’ says Helly.

She likes it most when the band plays 15-20 minutes of non-stop high beat music. “That’s when everyone has the most amazing time. Also you make new friends and enjoy a lot with your family.”

There are competitions for best dressed people and the best dance. “When I see everyone dancing it is a great feeling and unity is the essence of this festival,” she says.

The first thing that is sure to catch anyone’s attention at the Navratri ground is the attire of people there. The ground becomes a riot of colours. Garish Ghaghra cholis and saris are adorned with elaborative mirror work and they are usually accompanied by heavy and bling-bling jewellery. The men also make a style statement by wearing designer wear sherwanis and the boys stick to their jeans and kurtas.

Age is no barrier at this festival. From cute little four-year-olds learning the steps to the 60plus who have been doing this since their heyday, everyone is immersed in enjoying themselves.

“The Great Indian Navratri Utsav has become an annual fixture on our events calendar. The last edition of the festival was a smash hit, attracting more than 12,000 people each day. The Utsav brings alive the colour and the festive spirit of Navratri,” says Rajeev Reddy, chairman and managing director of the Country Club group. So pick up those dandiya sticks, be a part of this merriment and get ready to groove to the beats till the early hours of morning.


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