Dandiya and garbha workshops mark Navrati celebrations in Visakhapatnam

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Festivities include colorful decor, fusion clothing and elaborate satvik spreads

Festivities include colorful decor, fusion clothing and elaborate satvik spreads

“It’s a celebration of life. This Navratri is special because the festivities are back after two years of pandemic,” says dance and fitness teacher Faiz Begum, who runs a fitness studio at Narasimhanagar in Visakhapatnam. Faiz has just completed his fourth dandiya and garbha workshop and says the response has been overwhelming. “People of all age groups came, many were beginners. The zeal to come together and be part of the celebrations is at an all-time high this year,” she says. Adorned with a bright decor, Faiz’s studio exudes the joy and energy that the festival symbolizes.

With the start of the festivities, Visakhapatnam sees many such festive congregations. Several dandiya and garbha workshops have emerged, bringing together people from all communities. Madhu Singh, who runs a fitness studio in Shivajipalem, has just completed a month-long dandiya and garba workshop. She says: “The workshop ended with an event last weekend which was attended by over 200 people. This time, I choreographed sequences on 20 songs. Dressed in colorful clothing, participants strike the wooden sticks to the rhythmic rhythms of garba music, clockwise and counterclockwise. “Garba and dandiya are a lot on repetitive stages. When we add Bollywood style to them, it becomes energetic and breaks up the rhythmic pattern,” adds Madhu. Faiz introduced salsa dandiya to his workshops this year. “It’s like training with a partner. The fusion is slow and flowing and can be paced according to the music. We held a two-day workshop on this style which was attended by 90 people,” says Faiz, who facilitates dandiya workshops in the city for over a decade.

Women dance in the garba and dandiya event held in Vijayawada

Women dance at garba and dandiya event held in Vijayawada | Photo credit: KVS Giri

Navratri traditionally involves dancing the night away during the nine days of festivities to celebrate the victory of good over evil. At the Radisson Blu hotel, members of the Rotary Club of Visakhapatnam will dance until midnight during the dandiya event to be held on September 30. Two DJs from Hyderabad have been flown in for the celebration which will start in the evening. “We have painted dandiya sticks for each guest. There are also surprise gifts in store for participants,” says Mushthri Althaf of the Rotary Club of Visakhapatnam. As part of the event, there will be some Gujarati dishes and a Satvik spread (no vegetarian garlic and onion dishes) for the guests. While traditional ghagras are the usual favorites, this time people are also experimenting with fusion clothing. “I prefer to merge styles from my wardrobe for dandiya workshops and events. It can be a personal style statement and is also comfortable and can be reused later. This time I combined a short kurti and dhoti pants,” she says.

A jar of rosogolla

A jar of rosogolla | Photo credit: special arrangement

Navratri is also fasting, but there are special dishes in hotels and restaurants in the city for those who want to indulge in a special meal. Radissa, a restaurant in Waltair Uplands, has developed a menu corresponding to the nine colors of Navratri. “Our platter includes four vegetarian dishes prepared without garlic or onion. The colors come from the vegetables. For example, on the second day, which symbolizes the color red, we used beets for that touch of red,” says Radhika Satish of Radisa. The Radisson Blu hotel has prepared two different festive menus at its Ethnic and 365 restaurants. A Satvik thali with a combination of Gujarati and Andhra dishes is part of the menu at Ethnic, while an a la carte Bengali feast is offered at 365“ For the city’s Bengali and Gujarati community, the party will be a way to return to their roots and savor popular dishes from the region,” says Radisson Blu chef Sujit Chakraborty.

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