Sunday, 10 October 2010

2nd Night of Navratri

Last night was the 2nd night of Navratri and I was kindly invited to the local temple to join in with events. What a night. The temple is a small community based establishment but what a turn out! There had to be around 1000 people in dazzling sarees and Lengha Cholies.

 I opted for recently purchased Lengha which was red green and gold but predominately black, I was a bit worried about my choice of colour but glad to see that there was more of the same colour there. Loving boyfriend came with a bit of a push, he was worried he would be the only white man there, and as predicted he was!
 When we arrived we were hit by a wall of colour and dance going around in circles in the sports hall, a most beautiful sight. We made a bee line for my work college who showed us where to sit. His daughter came immediately to the rescue as I had made the ultimate school girl error, no safety pin. It was my first time wearing a Lengha and I had no Idea how to drape wear the Dupatta! What a disaster! I had tucked in in to my waist and just thrown it over my shoulder as I would a saree. She managed to pleat the folds for me and pin it to my shoulder. I was then immediately taken on to the dance floor where I circled in a complicated three step movement which was clumsy and awkward for me for the first two rounds but by the third and fourth I was getting in to it when I realized I still had my ballet shoes on! A run back to my seat in embarrassment threw them off and realized how out of breath I was and how much I was sweating!  A bit of a rest was had at this point.  

Music was provided by two extremely young, still in primary school, boys on the tabla another young boy on the harmonium which sadly I struggled to hear and a handful of singers. The PA system had been expertly arranged so it was nice and loud but not too loud and distorted that it couldn’t be enjoyed which is sadly the case with events with small PA systems like this. All were very talented and I felt very humble. I used to play in an orchestra and we would have a huge range of instruments playing synchronised with sheet music and a conductor. I was extremely naive to think that a small hand full of instruments could provide such a sea of noise. It certainly put me in my place…Again!
The three steps circling and spinning dancing gave way to the Atri dedicated to the temporary temple erected in the middle of the sports hall. It was beautifully decorated with flowers and lights and had an amazing selection of darsham arranged in front of it. The Atri song I recognised as being extremely similar to Jai Sadguru Swami however had different names arranged in it and of course went on for a lot longer, I’m guessing to depict the 9 nights of Navratri. If anyone can explain more it would be most appreciated!
After this, more dancing this is where the sticks came out and this is where I was totally out my depth. I was taken out of my seat by a fire warden in a bright orange jacket to a small free space where I would present no danger to those around me. It was here he kindly taught me the moves, a superb teacher; it was minutes before he introduced me to a small crowd of women where we all danced. I can’t believe how quickly I picked it up! Of course I would get lost now and then but it was Awesome!

The last dance consisted of stepping forward and stepping back, I could not get the hang of that one sadly, but there is another 7 nights to perfect!
The boyfriend is sacked, didn’t get any photos of me!
At half eleven it was all over and we exited in to the well-earned cool air out side, I was buzzing, such an amazing night


  1. Look at you! You're going all over the place in Indian clothes. It's wonderful :) It sounds like you had a great time.

  2. traditionally indian music doesn't have the concept of orchestra . so it is always few instruments . often only two.

    there is also no concept of sheet music and conductor in indian classical. the musician is supposed to improvise around a basic theme.

    though garba being a folk dance - the songs have standard lyrics and tunes.

    it is nice that you are in touch with local indian communities, otherwise celebrating indian festivals would have been boring.


  3. to add :

    i like both indian classical and western classical. i found these differences interesting.


  4. Then you may enjoy Michael Nyman's Sangam which is both! It is what introduced me to indian music.