New Jersey-based Lav Patel’s phone has been buzzing incessantly post the euphoria he witnessed at the Navratri event that had Atul Purohit enthralling the revellers with garba hits. Patel, the co-organizer of the event, said, “Compared to about 5,000 people before the pandemic, this year we saw an influx of about 8,000 revellers. I kept getting calls from people, many of whom travelled for hours as they flew down from 14 states to be part of the event.”
Come Navratri and the love for garba is at the core of every Gujarati’s celebrations, be it in India or abroad. “In places populated with Gujaratis, such as New York and New Jersey, we are seeing a new trend. The festival is spread across several weekends,” said Ankur Vaidya, chairman of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) in the US. “Over the years, its popularity and inclusivity has soared with ‘sheri garba’ also organised here.”
And why just the US, other nations around the world that boast a healthy Indian diaspora, also witness a celebratory mood during Navratri. Pravin Amin, associated with the National Association of Patidar Samaj in the UK, said, “We see youths in droves, and all are eager to dance to the traditional garba tunes. We have many local singers who perform at the events. An event sees participation of about 1,500 people on an average. We have been organising it since 1976.” Amin plans to have 11 nights of celebration this year, comprising garba on Dussehra and Sharad Purnima.
The Indian diaspora living in Parkside, Dublin in Ireland has also begun celebrating Navratri with garba since last year. A country like Madagascar, which boasts a vibrant Gujarati community of 20,000-odd people also organises garba and dandiya nights during Navratri.
In Oman, the Hindu Mahajan members have been organising the event for over a century now. Chandrakant Jodhani said, “This year, too, there are multiple events at Kala Bhavan, Cosmos Bhavan, etc. The community is also organising a nine-night extravaganza in Kuwait, Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, etc.”
Likewise, in Kenya, garba events are organised in various temples in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Nakuru. The NGO, Vedic Sanskriti, in Ottawa, Canada, has been organising garba events for the past decade in the Canadian capital. The event sees high participation of about 4,000 revellers every year. They also organise garba classes and workshops for those interested.
As they say, you can take Gujarati out of Gujarat, but you cannot take Gujarat out of Gujarati.