The festival of Navaratri has Bengaluru absolutely dazzled this year, more than ever before. Amidst pompous displays of ‘Golu‘ (dolls), dandiya nights have stolen the thunder, with celebrations in the glory of three goddesses – Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Being one of the greatest festivals in India, Navaratri (nine nights) symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, following which, the final day of victory – Dussehra, is celebrated.
Over the years, with thousands of people from other states of India migrating into the city of Bengaluru, old, canonical traditions have warmly accommodated various other traditions into them. One of them being dandiya raas (a Gujarati and Rajasthani folk dance) that has literally whirled and twirled its way into the streets of Bengaluru.
Sanjay Bhattacharjee, the organizer of one of the biggest dandiya events in the city this year says, “Bengaluru has myriad of cultures coming together. There was a huge demand for dandiya to be organised this year and the tickets have almost been sold out!” Interestingly, he also mentioned that many of his north-Indian friends have arranged ‘Golu‘ dolls in their homes, as well. “Navaratri in Bengaluru is breaking all religious barriers this time and is bringing everyone together!”, he adds.
Echoing similar thoughts, another event organizer Vikas Chaudhary affirms, “Requests for dandiya nights began in Bengaluru just this year. We finally decided to organize it and the response has been so great! With enchanting Golu displays in the mornings, people want to liven up their evenings as well, and what’s better than dandiya to add to the charm of this festival?”, he says. On a more serious note, recalling mishaps of New Years Eve 2018 in the city last year, Vikas also pointed out the need for safe, enclosed spaces, especially for girls to feel secure and have fun without a worry. “We have all the facilities provided in our large halls, with full security so that there’s hassle-free fun.”
Looping back to “Bombe Habba” or “Golu” dolls, Thulsi Rammohan, a resident of Bengaluru has been setting up the most admired display of dolls since almost 25 years now. “Some of these dolls are almost 40 years old. Every set of dolls tell a story and that’s how I’ve patiently arranged each and every one of them.” Thulsi has a display of around 1000 dolls, including story settings of the Ramayana, Shirdi Sai Baba, Puri Jagannath, and a mountain of steps or ‘padikettu‘ with dolls of all the powerful goddesses, including Durga, Saraswati, Meenakshi and even Mother Mary. “I hold all female goddesses as one, and when they all come together, all evil will perish, including religious barriers.”
City-based homemaker Padma Sriganesh adds, “While enjoying displays of Golu, gifts and sweets are exchanged amongst family and friends, along with chit-chatting and singing devotional songs. This year, we have also arranged dandiya and garba in our society every evening during Navaratri. It’s truly the most awaited festival of the year for me.”
Clearly enough, dandiya has spun its magic over the city, making the festival of Navaratri even more grand.