Halo re! Halo re! -Dandiya Raas(1991-92)

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I happen to visit to our local market few days ago, and came across the small deities of goddess Durga and the earthen pot known as ‘Garbi’ , colourful chunar being sold at most of the stalls. I realized soon that Navratri is around. Yes Chaitra Navratri starting from 28th March 2017. This made me remember another very entertaining and massive event that I had organized as a Club President in the year 1990-91. Dandiya Raas is a mesmerizing poetry of human movements in tune to captivating rhythmic beats, intermittent jingling sound of bells and clattering of sticks, and electrifying flow of colours and light.  For those who have entered, even once, in the magnetic range of its enticement, it is poetry par excellence. I still remember the event was organized at Fidai Baugh. It was an achievement for me as we were supposed to invite around 1500 hundred people and the biggest question we had was how? Back in those we did not have the digital medium like social media, blogs, whatsapp, and SMS to create the awareness about any event within no span of time, the only thing we had was to interact with each member and spread the awareness through word of mouth. By the time we thought of having such a massive event it was just one month left for the festival. We all geared up for this task and gave our best. We started spreading the awareness among our club and relatives. Also we made sure who ever happened to visit some other club or their relative made sure to carry this message. We also got circulars circulated among the different clubs.

Despite of all the difficulties we still could manage to get approximate 1200 people, of which 500 people were Lions Member.  Finally!  The day had arrived; I was bit nervous initially about the execution of the event as it was my first such a huge event. It was already 7pm and the guest had started coming in colorful attire along with the colorful sticks. According to me, what marks out dandiya from the rest is its use of colorful, musical sticks, its dress code.

Women dressed in three piece ghagra, choli and odhni whereas men in colorful matching traditional dhotis and aangrakha or kurtas with lots mirrors on the dress. Everyone seemed to be in a very energetic and playful mood and completely utilizing the opportunity by exchanging messages through eye contact!

Few of them carried sticks that were beautifully painted and decorated. At the end of these “dandias”, tiny bells or ghungroos were tied, which create a jingling sound when the sticks were struck with each other.  These sticks, clattering of which should be in tune with the music played and at rhythmic intervals, are the markers of time.

Music of dandiya comprised of special tracks of traditional and fusion. It started with a slow beats, gathered momentum and culminated in the fast tracks of around 150 beats. Along with the music of the sticks, the musical tracks injected tremendous verve, sauce and pizzazz into the dancer’s movements.

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Though not being a great dancer , I too participated and realized that once you are under the halo of these dances and  your steps are more or less right (otherwise your folded fingers will get beaten by the fellow dancer’s stick, but that’s fine! the occasional pain on your fingers adds to the euphoria).

According to the dance setting, two circles were formed and the dancers moved in two circles in three steps, one group moved in clockwise direction while the other in  anti-clockwise path and clank the stick themselves and with that of their changing partners.  There are infinite number of steps dancers performed in dandiya, like, Lehree (wave pattern), Trikoniya (triangular pattern), lotus, and butterfly patterns.

There were so much excitement as well as chaos, few couples smiling at each other, few even complaining for being hit by the stick, few noticing and thinking whether to enter into the enthralling zone of ecstasy and a rhapsody of continuing elation. Everyone was trying to enjoy the moment in their own special way.

Most of the crowd had come with the must-go-on-spirit even after three or four hours of non-stop fast dancing. It had been memorable event  and a wonderful experience for me. So now, I end this blog with a note that next time, if you get an opportunity to take part in dandiya and if you have time, pick up the sticks; and sport it on your face, a smile! And if you dance…..dance just like YOU do.

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