This weekend, I went to my FIRST dandiya night in life. Many of my friends did not believe that it was my first time. They were as surprised as they were when I went to watch Bourne Ultimatum with them and dozed off midway.
"What’s the big deal?”, I asked. You guys aren’t from Gujarat, are you?
“Gujarat or not, dandiya dancing is the cool thing to do”, came the reply.
Which made sense. Thanks to the K-serials and the KJo genre of entertainment, being a Gujarati or a Punjabi was definitely the cool thing.
So I went to the dandiya, more out of curiosity than the desire to shake a leg. Given how and where I was brought up, asking permission for staying out late and shaking a leg to the dandiya was not eve an option. That dandiya stick would have broken on my back, given the perception of late-night dandiyas.
But this isn't Kolkata, and I did not need permission anymore. So donning my best clothes, here I was on my first dandiya dance floor.
If you asked me to describe the scene in one word, the word would be COLORFUL ! In a huge room, men and women with colorful, ethnic clothes were dancing their way around. Little children looked even more cute in their mini ghagras and cholis, jumping to the beats of music. People were dancing in concentric circles, the two inner ones for garba and the two outer ones with the sticks.
I grew up watching Chitrahaar, where occasionally, Amitabh Bachchan would dance to the tune of “Hey naam re, sabse badaa tera naam, o sherawali” donning a piece of cloth on his forehead. Bollywood glamorized dandiya even more with time. And I thought, it's easy. Just clap your hands or clap the sticks to the beat.
So the first time I saw these people on the dance floor, I was like, "Look, I'm on the sets of Hum dil de chuke sanam!" Picking those steps were harder than I thought. So I stuck to the simpler 6 beat and 8 beat movements of the garba. Still, I injured fingers, stepped on toes, bumped into people behind me, and confused the rights from the lefts. It was fun, but it was chaotic! I even saw a few White people who had donned their ethnic clothes perfectly and danced away without a care in the world. Wonder what took me 25 years to get here.
We kept dancing in circles till by head spun and reeled and all the faces floated above me. The floor was wooden, and it hurt. The same steps, 1-2-3-1-2-3 and the same dance became monotonous. The DJ played some awfully slow number after heightening the mood. So we formed a group and the moment the beats picked up speed, we started to dance Bhangra amid a room full of dandiya people. It was so much fun! Sticks in hand and our legs alternatively floating mid air, we were jumping to the beats of hayo rabba.
Three hours of dancing and I was done for the day. Even after 3 days, I am still limping, thanks to the wooden floors. “Coming the next time?”- someone asked me. Sure. But this time, I’d like to sit and watch people dance, and revel in the festivity. Unless of course I pick up the steps of Dholi Taro in the meantime.