Come Navratri, and I begin to miss Ahmedabad all over again. How can I not? The city would be all decked up now, festive fervour in the air, people dancing away the night in their colourful chaniya cholis and making the most of the festival. Navratri and Uttarayan are two festivals to which Gujaratis look forward to throughout the year. Life in the city is at its peak during these two festivals – I believe it is much the same all over Gujarat, but I can only speak for Ahmedabad.
In spite of all those years that I lived in Ahmedabad, I never really learnt how to dance the garba, or performed it in any of the thousands of venues organising it all over the city. I really don’t know why, and can only regret the fact now. That said, I never missed going to the garba pandals even for a single year – the fervour of the dancers attracted me, and I loved watching them swirling and twisting and turning for hours on end. I would say I was an active watcher of Navratri, never an active participant.
Some of the garba songs have been ingrained in me, deeply, and I cannot deny the way they mesmerise me each time I listen to them. They are tunes that I have been listening to each year that I have been away from Ahmedabad during Navratri, tunes that treat me to a little bit of Gujarat wherever I am.
Without further ado, I present to you my most favourite nine garba songs….
Sanedo is a form of garba, which begins with slow beats and then goes on to become more and more energetic and enthusiastic in pace. The dancers become almost feverish with passion when the highest beats are played. The theme of the sanedo can range from social commentary to political satire, and are very interesting to hear.
Mari Mahisagar ne aare
This song speaks of drums being beaten by the Mahi river of Gujarat, and people from several villages visiting the place, bringing different kinds of offerings to Goddess Amba (whose temple is, probably, located near the river).
Odhni odhu ne udi udi jaaye
This is a naughty, teasing song, full of playfulness. The lady sings of how she tries to keep her dupatta….. er, under control, but how it insists on fluttering away in the wind.
Tara vina shyam mane
This is a very pretty song about a lady missing her ‘Shyam’ (who could either be Lord Krishna or her beloved), and feeling very lonely without him. She urges him to come soon, so that they can go and play raas garba together.
This is a devotional song wherein the singer urges a bird to fly away to the Pavagadh (a hill station in Gujarat) and pay her respects to the goddess in the famous temple on the mountains there. She urges the bird to coax the goddess to play garba with her.
Dholida dhol re vagad
This is another playful song, wherein the singers urge the drum beaters to beat their drums hard because she wants to dance hard and fast. A song full of energy and fervour.
Kesariyo rang tane
I love this song, though I don’t really understand the meaning behind it. It speaks of the year’s garba festivities being coloured bright orange for a lady (probably due to the presence of her beloved, I am guessing).
Ke hove hove
I don’t understand this song at all – it is in a dialect of Gujarati that I do not understand. I love the song to bits, though.
Mehendi te vavi
Another pretty song, whose meaning I can only guess. What I am assuming this song means is that the singer has applied mehendi on her hands which was grown in Malwa, and she is astonished that it has brought such rich, deep colour to her hands in Gujarat.
I hope you enjoy listening to these songs!