Last year I watched a movie called “Ramji Thakkar, Bhimji Thakkar” made by artist Shwetal Bhat. It was about her bond with the festival of Navratri in Vadodara. It was a beautifully made film- well researched and brought out the beauty of the festival so aptly. I have been brought up too in Vadodara and I wanted to share few aspects of the movie that touched me
- How the University of Fine Arts in Vadodara played a big role in the Garba scene in Vadodara. I, like many other fellow Barodians always knew that the Garba in Fine arts is special – its more authentic but the role they played is so beautiful that it cant be described – you have to watch the film to understand that.
- How the “Pol” Garba is celebrated- though I know that even today, garba is celebrated in pols in the old city of Baroda, I have not experienced it myself. I can just imagine the sense of community and simplicity in the way it is celebrated- I will make it a point to witness it the next time I am in Baroda during Navratri.
- How the “Garba” songs have been developed over a period of time – what looks effortless now is thanks to the efforts of poets/ people who went to villages and got the folk songs/compositions who may have evolved over the period of time.
- Just found out from the movie that “Archee” garba is the genesis of the Architecture college in Vadodara where they have just retained the word “Archi” or “Archee” – lot of us in the audience (4 were from Baroda who have settled in Bangalore now including me) always thought that it’s a name of a Goddess and thus Maa Arkee (Gosh we need to question things more often is what I learnt from this). So coming back to the origin, the Architecture college got inspired by the Faculty of Fine arts and started their own Garba in their college grounds. Later on, corporates decided to spend money and use it for their branding and thus it became grander over the years. What United Way is now was Archi Garba in the 80s and early 90s.
- Few women felt that the Garba was only being enjoyed more by the youth thus they got together and started a Garba in the Performing Arts College where its more inclusive for women of all ages, where the vibe is more laidback and thus less rushed. The biggest feedback is that there is a positive spiritual energy which is felt by everyone who experiences Garba there. Again, I have not visited it and is on my bucket list the next time that I’m there.
- The movie was well researched as it took the stories from various different facets involved in the festival – whether it be the senior faculty and ex students of Fine Arts/ Architecture College, the various Singers who have been involved in different Garba Groups and the residents of Baroda who have seen the Garba growing in front of them and have participated with equal fervor.
- It was beautiful to hear from the singers whose voices/ tunes I have been dancing to in my growing years during Navratri at Vadodara – whether it be Pankaj Goswami or Vikram Patil, Parul Patel or Atul Purohit….we dance taking the energy from them but it was heartwarming to know that they also are helped by the pulsating energy from the crowd.
- Garba / Raas is complete when it is a circle. Never realized this in my grown up years.
- The festival of Nine Nights is celebrated in the night – in spite of that the women folk feel very safe – coming out and dancing away in the wee hours of the night coz the people of Baroda have made them feel safe.
- The beauty or authenticity of the festival in Vadodara which is still retained – is difficult to replicate anywhere else and the citizens of Vadodara have still retained it. They may have grown modern with the times but they have remained authentic about their Garbas which is such a heartwarming feeling.
- Garba is not performance – its more of a community dance. This point really hit home. If it is a performance, it has to happen on a stage but the festival of Navratri – is more of a community spirit of Dance which also was brought out very beautifully in the entire movie by how the different colleges have played a big role in bringing out Navratri and few other groups still retaining the same.
It’s a movie that has to be seen – especially by all the Navratri enthusiasts of Vadodara or the people who have enjoyed the beauty of the festival or who wish to know more. I had goosebumps watching it and I feel so proud of the fact that I come from the city of Vadodara where Navratri is celebrated in such an authentic manner, still being fun at the same time. I know the filmmaker Shwetal Bhat so if anyone wants to screen the movie in their college/ school/ communities/ corporates – feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to put you in touch.
And the good news is that we are screening it again – this October 2 at Lahe Lahe, Indiranagar at 5 pm- you are welcome to attend the screening and know more about it from the filmmaker Shwetal Bhat who be present. You dont need to register- just walk in 🙂 The screening is being followed by a Dandiya night at 7.30 so stay back if you are enthused to try out a bit of Garba/ Dandiya.
The Dandiya nights are also being celebrated at Lahe Lahe on October 4, 5 and 6 2019 between 7.30-9.30 pm. Tickets available at EH, BMS, Lahe Lahe website and at the venue. For enquiries, pl connect to 9886294444.