Scrumptious traditional Indian sweets and dishes, an abundance of family and friends, ridiculously loud Gujarati folk music blasting everywhere, people passionately dancing to celebrate a very special festival…all can only mean one thing– it’s garba season! Although it’s typically a Gujarati festival, millions and millions of people around the world look forward to this beautiful time every year.
So many people attend Navratri celebrations and garba, but very few people know the significance behind this festival. The word “garba” actually comes from the Sanskrit word for womb. The dance is usually performed around a lit clay lantern which represents life– specifically, the fetus in the womb– honoring Durga, the feminine form of divinity. Several circular lines of various garba dances are formed around the lit clay lantern. These rings of dances become cycles and symbolize the Hindu cycle of life– from birth to life to death, and again to rebirth with the Goddess being the only thing being constant amongst infinite transformation. The dance demonstrates that the only thing constant in this changing universe is God.
Being born and raised in the United States in a very non-diverse community, I somewhat lost my Indian side. Growing up, Navratri was one of the very few times of the year where I got the chance to experience my Indian heritage. I despised the music, dancing, and large masses of people crowding my surroundings, but I would look forward to dressing up in traditional garba attire weeks before Navratri even started. Going off to college and not having all of my accessories with me or my mom to help me out, I learned quick and easy ways to dress up for Navratri. I have always loved wearing different kinds of clothing and experimenting with my style, and I can take this passion to a whole new level during this time of year. Below are some tips to help you look your best this season!
1. It’s sometimes very difficult to find just the right types of seasonal jewelry in places other than India— for instance, the waist belt. You can easily substitute for these waist belts by using long necklaces that can be found almost anywhere! Check out this garden goddess floral necklace found at Forever 21 for only $6.80. If you find necklaces long enough to wrap around your waist, they can be the perfect way to complete any garba ensemble!
2. Unfortunately, my mom forgot to send me my matching bangles with my chaniya choli. I decided to use some stackable bracelets– I used a gold floral statement bracelet, along with some pearl and diamond pieces I purchased from Aldo and Forever 21.
3. Wear your chaniya choli in a different style. People usually flip over one folded end of the dupatta to cover the stomach and tuck in the other end near the opposite waist. Never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Below are pictures of me and some friends wearing our chaniya cholis the standard way, and another of me wearing the same outfit in a different style. All I did was flip one side over my shoulder like a sari instead and wear a different blouse (I always try and order two blouses with my saris and cholis), and it looked as if I was wearing a completely different outfit. The outfit I am wearing is a designer chaniya choli featured at the Saahil Exclusive boutique in Chicago, IL.
Send us pictures of you and your friends at garba or even some tips you use yourself!