Rashmi Rekha Das

After a gap of two years, the euphoria and ecstasy surrounding Durga Puja celebrations in the Temple City of Bhubaneswar are scaling new heights. No wonder, after two years of Covid restrictions the revelers are ready to soak in festive fervor as the glitz and glitter of Navratri have caught up people across all age groups.

However, one event that has been catching the fancy of the youths in the city is Dandiya Raas, a traditional folk art form of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Dandiya Raas is closely associated with Radha-Krishna Leela. This is a dance that is performed by a group that includes both men and women. What draws the attraction is the colourful attire worn by the participants with the colourful wooden sticks used by them during the performance. The beautifully decorated sticks are used as props. While men put on Kurta-Pyjama, women look gorgeous with their traditional Ghaghra-Cholis before whipping up a storm on the stage.

In short, Dandiya nights are the major crowd-pulling events with several star hotels, Puja pandals and youth organisations arranging Dandiya events during the ten-day Navratri festival. They rope in DJs, live bands and professional troupes to jazz up the events.

“I have started practicing the Dandiya steps at our home. Dusshera in Cuttack is as popular as Dandiya dance festivals in Gujarat. But gradually the dance form is gripping people in the state capital. Last two years I missed it because of corona restrictions. I love the dance form as you can get chance to dance with others whom you don't even know,” said a die-hard fan of Dandiya. 

Celebrities’ appearance at such events also draws more crowds to take part in Dandiya dance. Though Dandiya performance in Bhubaneswar is different from that of Gujarat, it has still caught the fancy of youngsters here over the years. That’s why youths have started practicing their moves well in advance to win competitions held at many places,” said Pranati a housewife from Bhubaneswar.

 “I desperately wait for the occasion so that we can flaunt ourselves in traditional attires having the touch of modernity. Last two years we missed the merriment of Dandiya night owing to Covid restrictions. This year, I will have a blast," said an engineering student, Kalpana Mishra.

The organisers have invited celebrities of the state and a few dancers of national and international repute to spice up the evenings. Apart from DJs and live orchestra, they host variety of food for the visitors.

"Dandiya nights promotes inclusiveness. People of different age groups join and have fun. It is truly an opportunity to get new friends," said Sriya Jain, a woman from Marwari community.

Difference between Garba and Dandiya

People generally mix up Garba and Dandiya. The fact is Garba is performed before Aarti, a ritual in honour of the goddess, while Dandiya is performed after completion of Aarti, as a part of the merriment. Garba is performed mostly with hand clapping. When women perform it, it is called Garba and for men it is Garbi.  Even as Garba is performed to invoke the goddess, it also symbollises a mock-fight between the goddess and the demon king Mahisasura which is also known as ‘The Sword Dance’, according to some experts. During the dance, dancers energetically whirl and move their feet and arms in a complex, choreographed manner to the tune of the music and drum beating. The beat of drum is complemented by percussion instruments such as the dholak, tabla, bongos and others. The Dandiya sticks represent the swords of Durga. Women wear traditional clothes such as colourful embroidered ghagra, choli and bandhani dupattas dazzling with mirror work and heavy jewellery on their body. Men wear special turbans and kedias. However, this varies from region to region. Men and women join in for Dandiya Raas, and also for the Garba.

Hotels organising Dandiya events 

While a 10-day ‘Dandiya Raas-2022’ has already begun at Mayfair Lagoon Hotel from September 26, hotel Pushpak, Hotel Vivanta’s Wink in Bhubaneswar will be organising a Dandiya night. The main attraction of hotel Vivanta’s Wink will be Dj Rahul Walia which is the official DJ of Ranveer Singh and traditional Garba performances. 

Hotel Nilay Residency in Bhubaneswar’s Infocity square will host the event beginning September 30. 
Live music shows, performances by celebrity singers, DJ and traditional dandiya beats, lucky draw, surprise gifts, exhibition stalls, and food courts will be the special attractions of these events.