In the state of Gujarat, the highlight of the nine night Navaratri festival is a dance called garba.
What exactly is it? Gujarati garba is a circular form of dance that involves clapping and whirling around what is usually an idol of the Mother Goddess in the center. It's accompanied by music and singing. Dandiya is a variant that involves the addition of sticks, which dancers beat in rhythm.
Dressing up in colorful traditional outfits is a must, especially for women who put a huge amount of effort into planning a different costume for each night of the festival.
Garba happens at night in villages and neighborhoods all over Gujarat during Navaratri. However, the best place to experience it is in the cultural capital, Vadodara (Baroda). The famous garba events in Vadodara are energetic and showy, and it's common for Bollywood celebrities to be in attendance.
- Find Out: When is Navaratri?
Events in Vadodara
United Way Garba is the most popular garba event in Vadodara. Around 30,000 people attend it each night. What draws the huge crowd? A combination of good management, top singers, and ambiance. Proper security arrangements are also always in place. United Way was formed with a focus on community support, and the proceeds raised from the event are distributed to 140 charitable organizations across the city. Advance registrations are necessary and can be done online here.
- Where: Alembic Ground.
The huge Vadodara Navaratri Festival is a new event that was held for the first time in 2015.
It's back for the third year in 2017. Singer and composer Gautam Dabir is the headlining performer. He'll be accompanied by Anupa Pota, Shyam Ghediya, and Seema Deepak Parikh (who has performed at garba events for the past 25 years as part of the famous Chokshi sisters). Tickets can be booked online here.
- Where: Navlakhi Garba Ground, Rajmahal Road.
Maa Shakti Garba is another famous garba event in Vadodara. It's listed in the Limca Book of World Records as the biggest garba in the world. Nearly 40,000 dancers took part to earn the honor in 2004. Book tickets online here.
- Where: Gujarat Housing Board Ground, Near PDIL Office, Samta Road, Subhanpura.
Other Events Elsewhere
The state's largest city, Ahmedabad, holds some renowned garba events as well. The biggest and most well known of these is the one at the GMDC ground, which is usually hosted by Gujarat Tourism. It has handicrafts, fun for the kids, and a state-level garba competition. You'll also find dozens of garba venues along the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway (S.G. Road), which connects Ahmedabad with Gandhinagar, the state capital.
Various travel companies, in conjunction with Gujarat Tourism, offer special Navaratri package tours. The details of these can be found here.
If you can't make it to Gujarat for Navaratri, garba and dandiya dance events also takes place on a grand scale in Mumbai due to the large Gujarati population there. Surprisingly, some of the events have more revelers in attendance than the ones in Vadodara.
Borivali (on the northern outskirts of the city) is shaping up to be the city's Navaratri garba and dandiya hub in 2017, as two of the most popular acts will be performing there.
- Falguni Pathak at Late Shri Pramod Mahajan Sports Complex.
- Preeti and Pinky at Kutchi Ground.
- The Naidu Club Navaratri at Kora Kendra Grounds is also popular.