Garba From Home: How the Jikaria Sisters & more are keeping the Garba spirit alive
By Samia Abbasi
We can all agree that Garba is a little different this year due to the pandemic. Originating in Gujarat, Garba is a form of dance that is performed during Navratri, a Hindu festival that spans nine nights and is celebrated every Autumn. On TikTok, Garba-goers are manifesting Garba of yester-years through snapshots of previous celebrations, like this TikTok of Atlanta Garba 2019 by Neel Patel: people dancing and smiling in colorful lehengas and salwar kameezes, hands poised with dandiya sticks.
I asked a few Gujarati-Americans: What does Garba mean to you? Are you planning to participate in alternative ways this year?
On the East coast, South Asian fusion dancers the Jikaria Sisters expressed:
To us, Garba season is a celebration of community, light, and the divine feminine.
In regard to Garba this year, they conveyed, “While we are bummed to not be able to go to large Garba events with our friends this year, we have created lots of Garba-related content together that we hope others will recreate. We can all create our little slices of joy at home this year #GarbaFromHome!”
Let’s get #GarbaFromHome trending this Garba season!
The Jikaria Sisters have been posting Instagram stories of people dancing Garba together on Zoom and tagging their videos with #GarbaFromHome, encouraging others to celebrate in a socially distant way.
On the West coast, Stanford University student Shaan Patel expressed:
Garba, to me, is a great opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family. It's always been something I have looked forward to during this time of year.
This year, Shaan and his family will not be participating in alternative forms of Garba, explaining that it's “mainly because it isn't the same experience.”
UCLA student Shalin Shah told me that his family is most likely participating in virtual events with his local temple and community in the Bay Area. Shalin’s mother Ruchita Shah, an educator, stated: “For me, Garba is a form of art. It is a means of expressing my eternal gratitude towards the Goddesses for showering us with power and strength to fight, never give up, and keep going in life.”
Every year during Navratri, Ruchita looks forward to “being with friends and dancing on the upbeat tunes together, wearing beautiful and colorful outfits, and bringing the energy to the dancing grounds brings me great joy and gives me an outlet to forget everything else for a few delightful hours.”
Ruchita noted that the pandemic has forced everyone to think outside the box:
It's important to remember that change is constant and for us to keep the Garba spirit alive—no matter how we must go about doing that.
During these past few months, Ruchita has “been dancing and performing from home via Zoom with over 15 other ladies.” This past weekend, Ruchita and five to six others performed in a parking lot (socially distanced) and streamed their performance over Zoom. She said, “It gives me immense pleasure to keep our ancient and sacred customs and traditions alive.”
Community and individually-led efforts show us that we can dance and celebrate at home safely and still be with each other virtually. Enjoy your #GarbaFromHome experience!
Cover photo credit: Jikaria Sisters