The colourful attires, exciting buffets, melodious tunes and unmatched fervour; Navratri surely doesn’t get bigger than in Gujarat. As the entire state dresses up in pop coloured, embroidered fineries and crowd the various garba and dandiya raas venues, the vibrant nine days of celebrations make it one of the longest dance festivals in the world. While every town and city of Gujarat is immersed in the Navratri excitement, there are some places that lead the list of ultimate festivities. Here are the top five places that you should aim for to get a first-hand experience of the energy and enthusiasm that fuel the non-stop festivities.
The cultural capital of Gujarat is where you would get to witness the most beautiful of Navratri celebrations. There are innumerable events held across the city, but there are two venues which steal the show for keeping the real essence alive by sticking to traditions. A purist’s delight!
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Uway- Always a contender of best garba pandal in Gujarat, United Way of Baroda’s outstanding feature is that a large part of the money (more than ₹ 4 crore) raised from the event is donated to charity. To be held from October 10 to 18 at Alembic Ground from 7.30pm every day, Uway is expected to see around 37,000 dancers and 20,000 floating audience daily. Both locals and recurring visitors swear by their brand of celebrations, and watching thousands of men and women dance together to the music in concentric circles is as magical as it gets. Keeping traditions alive, while their list of singers and artists is highlighted by the presence of famous veteran Gujarati garba and folk singer – Atul Purohit, the attire of anyone visiting has to be conventional too.
Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Baroda- No microphones, no filmy tunes, and old garba and tribal songs from Saurashtra dating back to 50 years make this one stand out. Said to be among the early community garbas, this one is ethnic to the core and a must for hardcore fans. The use of traditional instruments like dholak, kansi-joda, conch and temple bells add to ambience. The eight-day festivities are primarily planned for the students, alumni, teachers, and their families, the performing honours, hence, limited to them and the artists. Apart from around 200 performers, around 1,000 can be accommodated as audience.
It is in the largest city of the state that Navratri celebrations get the touch of modernity. While Law Garden is the go-to place for shopping ethnic clothes, you would see the youngsters going for a fusion look. The same reflects in music and food at most venues.
Karnavati Club- Unlike other years, when the club hosted garba nights for two days and handed over the reins to an agency for the rest of the days, this year they are going fully self-sufficient. Also, they are taking a break from the pop culture and going the Uway way – dancing in concentric circles, with every circle boasting of a different style. With daily footfall restricted to 3,000 and a member allowed to bring not more than four guests, each day of celebrations will start with a maha arti at 9pm. There will be a lot of prizes to be won in every age category.
Rajpath Club- The dandiya fest of this place has been one of the top draws for years. The lavish ambience, groovy music – folk mixed with peppy modern tunes, disco dandiya and interesting competitions keep all hooked and happy. This year too, their mega lawn will witness nine nights of sheri garba and raas. Each day’s celebration will be highlighted by a well-known artist and orchestra.
Perhaps it is due to proximity to Mumbai, but the diamond and textile capital of Gujarat attracts a lot of Bollywood names as performers or as celeb appearances. It also sees a lot of Mumbaikars becoming a part of the gala celebration across the city.
Sarsana Dome- Unlike mostly open-air garbas elsewhere in the state, the gigantic 1,16,000 sq. ft. air-conditioned dome of Sarsana Exhibition Centre boasts of the grandest and most enlivening Navratri. With Kedar Creators musical group at helm, this year’s singers’ list will be led by Vadodara-born Bhoomi Trivedi of ‘Ram Chahe Leela’ fame from the movie Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela and singer-lyricist Priya Saraiya. The entire dome will be abuzz with almost 20,000 enthusiasts daily, dancing to the folk and contemporary tunes and enjoying delectable cuisine.