For many youngsters in the city, Navratri is the time to bond with family and friends, or simply dance to their hearts’ content, writes Zeenab Aneez
For the nine days of music, dancing and celebration that it involves, Navratri is looked forward to by many youngsters in the city. From dressing up the deity to planning their own wardrobes to deciding what the latest dance songs are, they get fully involved in the festivities.
“It is a great opportunity to get to know your relatives better and to meet new people,” says Hriday Agarwal, a college student.
“We dance in groups and everyone is welcome to join us so it is a lot of fun!” While his family is originally from Haryana, Hriday was born and brought up in Hyderabad. “My entire family shifted here over 30 years ago and have been here since, so we prefer spending our Navratris here,” he says.
For Bhavya Gavar of Muffakhan Jah Engineering College, adorning the deity is a major part of celebrating the festival. “There are nine deities; a different deity every day. We dress each one up differently, with saris, jewellery and crowns,” she begins. “We go to Begum Bazaar to buy the stuff for this.”
As for her own wardrobe, she has already picked up her clothes and matching accessories for the season. “We wear traditional cholis and lehengas to the dandiya,” she explains. Bhavya did all her shopping in Hyderabad, but others go a step further to make their fashion statements.
Poorbi Chottai, a student at St. Francis College, says that at least one of her Navratri outfits has to be bought in Ahmedabad. “Ahmedabad is the place to be if you want to experience the true Navratri spirit and they bring out their best cholis and lehengas during these nine days.”
Poorbi’s family and relatives make special trips to Ahmedabad for this purpose but when it comes to the celebrations, they would rather stay in Hyderabad. “Since most of our friends and relatives are in Hyderabad, I prefer to stay here,” she says.
While girls dress in their traditional cholis, the boys, according to Hriday, like to mix things up a little. “When we go for dandiya or garba,” he says, “I usually wear kurta-pyjama but now many people also come in jeans paired with a slightly ethnic shirt or t-shirt.”
Navratri traditionally involves dancing all night for nine consecutive nights to celebrate the victory of good over evil. While the dances usually go on only until midnight, those gathering at Imperial Gardens, Nampally, can dance till dawn, and thousands come there to play dandiya and garba. “This year, they have got special permission to dance till 3:00 a.m.,” says Poorbi. The participants think nothing of spending nine sleepless nights. Says Hriday, “This is the only time I get to meet my relatives and friends from school who I hardly meet after I joined college. This comes only once a year. I can catch up on sleep during weekends.”
Although the dance remains rooted to tradition, there is something new to look forward to every year. According to Bhavya, the fad this year is dandiya sticks with lights on them. The dance music too is tuned to the latest preferences.
“We start the night with devotional songs relating to the festival but move on to more popular numbers,” says Bhavya. What is the must-have track on this year’s playlist? ‘Dreamum Wakeuppam!’ says Poorbi, without missing a beat. “Thanks to that song, no one will want to leave the dance floor.”