Also known as the 'stick' dance, this is another form of
dance that is also a feature of Navratri. Here, men and women join the
dance circle, holding small polished sticks or 'dandiyas'. As they whirl
to the intoxicating rhythm of the dance, men and women strike the
'dandiyas' together, adding to the joyous atmosphere. The best 'Raas'
dancers are the Kathiawari Raas dancers, who hail from the Saurashtra
Dandiya Raas is a simple, rhythmic dance performed by young people moving around an imaginary circle in measured steps to the beat of Dandiya sticks that they carry in their hands. The beat for the dance is kept by the clacking sticks, with clapping hands keeping pace. A variation of this dance is 'Matka Nritya' in which performers strike their fingers against empty pots to generate a distinctive beat.
VARIATIONS OF DANDIYA RAAS
In the Mer Raas, the dance begins on a slow note but the tempo speeds up during the performance.
Members of the shepherd community perform the 'Gher Raas' using long sticks.
Another agricultural community performs the 'Gheria Raas' holding a stick in one hand and a peacock feather in the other.
Yet another variation of the Dandiya Raas is the Gof Gunthan in which dancers carry sticks in only one hand, and a length of colored string in the other. The latter is woven into a unique pattern as they move around in a circle.
The Raas dance is considered a form of Raas Leela, which Lord Krishna used to perform at Gokul and Vrindavan. The Raas is simple and is generally performed by a group of youthful people who move in measured steps around a circle, accompanied by a singing chorus and a host of musical instruments like the 'dhol', cymbals, 'jhanjh', 'Shehnai' (flute).
The typical folk costume for this dance is a short shirt like attire called 'kedia', with tight sleeves and pleated frills at the waist and highly embroidered borders, tight trousers, colourfully embroidered cap or coloured turban and colourful 'kamarbandh' (cummerbund).
Navratri: The Festival For Raas
The festival of Navratri is essentially religious in nature and is celebrated with true devotion in the various temples dedicated to the Mother Goddess or 'Mataji' as she is familiarly called.
An interesting feature of Navratri is the Garba and the Dandia-Ras dances. The costumes worn for the dances are traditional and extremely colourful. These dances start very late at night and end in the early hours of the morning.