Garba is a form of dance that originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha and Deep . Many traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp, or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri. Either the lamp (the Garba Deep) or an image of the Goddess Durga (also called Amba) is placed in the middle of concentric rings as an object of veneration.
Modern garba is also heavily influenced by dandiya Raas, a dance traditionally performed by men. The merger of these two dances has formed the high-energy dance that is seen today. Both men and women usually wear colorful costumes while performing garba and dandiya. The girls and the women wear Chaniya choli, a three-piece dress with a choli, which is an embroidered and colorful blouse, teamed with chaniya, which is the flared, skirt-like bottom, and dupatta, which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, stars, and embroidery work, mati, etc. Traditionally, women adorn themselves with jhumkas (large earrings), necklaces, bindi, bajubandh, chudas and kangans, kamarbandh, payal, and mojiris. Boys and men wear kafni pyjamas with a kediyu – a short round kurta – above the knees and pagadi on the head with bandhini dupatta, kada, and mojiris. There is a huge interest in Garba among the youth of India and in particular, the Gujarati diaspora.
Garba and Dandiya Raas are also popular in the United States where more than 20 universities have Raas/Garba competitions on a huge scale every year with professional choreography. One of the most notable of these competitions is called Garba With Attitude. Garba With Attitude also shortened to GWA, hosted by the Indian Sub-Continental Club (ISC) at the University of California, Irvine, has grown to become America’s premier Garba/Raas competition and is the only competition of its kind on the West Coast. In its eleventh year, its focus not only lies in exhibiting the values and expressions of this form of the traditional dance form, but also in promoting cultural awareness. It is a platform for philanthropic awareness through fostering a competitive and professional atmosphere. In the past ten years, Garba With Attitude has grown from five California Universities to over 200 participants from 10 Universities from across the United States. The show has had a record five year sell out point with over 1,000 audience members which include students, representatives from various organizations, family members of participants, show organizers, and garba enthusiasts.