Dandiya Raas is a traditional dance form (Gujarat) performed during Navratri celebrations. Explore more on Dandiya Raas during Navratri celebrations.
Dandiya Raas in Navratri
Dandiya Raas emanates from the folk tradition that forms the basis of India's composite culture. It holds a significant place in the Navratri festival all across the country. This is especially true for Gujarat, which has preserved the folk music and dance culture of India through the years. The actual euphoria in Navratri is generated by the spectacular Dandiya events that involve several aesthetic and energetic movements. It is a uniquely expressive dance performed in honour of Goddess Durga and her representations worshipped during the nine days of Navratri. The sticks are figuratively the sword of Durga that she used to vanquish Mahishasura, extolling its power to triumph over evil.
Dandiya is a beautiful art form that comes alive with rhythmic human movements and pleasant janging of Dandiya sticks. Dandiya Raas is performed after the 'arti' session in the evening. Raas-Dandiya takes the celebration to a heightened level of festive verve. It is also flexible enough to explore variations of dance steps, and with some improvisation and choreography, it magically sets off the festive mood for the nine nights of Navratri.
History Dandiya was originally performed only by men with long sticks in their hands trying to learn sword fighting to rhythmic beats. The public performance of Dandiya also has religious associations, as it was also a part of seasonal festivities in the agrarian regions of the country. With time, it also borrowed from other dance forms like Garba and lent itself to festival-based performances during Basant Panchami and Navratri. One of the most important changes in its formative period of transition was the participation of women. However, in certain places, this dance form native to the tribal folk of Rajasthan and Gujarat is still practised in its original form.
The Dandiya Raas is performed with rotatory motions but the arrangement and placement is somewhat complex, as it involves single layer of circle or concentric circles, when several groups participate. The beauty of such an arrangement is that one circle moves clockwise, while the other goes anti-clockwise. Dancers do the circling motion around the 'mandvi' or the perforated pot with 'diya' inside representing the divine energy or Maa Shakti. The overall effect in Dandiya Raas is that of exuberance and verve.
Both costumes and sticks of Raas Dandiya have a distinct traditional look and are extremely colourful. While women are attired in the traditional choli and ghagra ensemble with eye-catching detailed embroidery and mirror work, men are equally well turned out in their flamboyant kedias. The colourful sticks draped in 'bandhani' cloth and embellished with beads and ghungroos are indeed very appealing.
The dancer strikes at his partner's dandia (stick) to the beat of 'meddale' drum or other kinds of music. Increasingly, percussionists and folk singers are being replaced by the new-age popular and pulsating music. Concurrent with the times, it lends itself to the current trends of fast beats and fusion music. But this also accounts for its immense popularity across the country today.
Dandiya Raas expresses happiness, gaiety and energy. In Raas, since it is important to perform the same steps to the beat, the dance is also a test of co-ordination and focus as hand and leg movements of the dancer should be in sync with those of his/her partner. However, in its basic form, it is extremely easy to learn even for a novice. Dandiya-Raas has evolved through time to incorporate variations such as 'back turns', 'kneeling down' and 'spinning of dandiya' in the air. It shares similarity of steps with Garba in particular styles such as Three Claps, Lehree, Trikoniya and Four Corners.