The world’s longest dance festival starts tonight. A dusty, not-so-pretty city like Ahmedabad will look ravishing for the next nine nights as people from all walks of life dressed in their finery will sway to the beats of the dhol and dandiya. The city will wear an intoxicating look. Myriad colours will embrace the streets of Ahmedabad like a young lover. Even though I can’t connect to Navratri, the festival of nine nights of dance, at an emotional level, I still feel happy. Just looking at people around me. Happiness can be swiped from a distance too. On certain occasions.
While growing up in Orissa, i had never thought of Gujarat’s passion for Navratri celebrations. It has been always Durga Puja for me —– hopping puja pandals, savouring delicacies, buying new clothes, visiting relatives especially my aunt. And the icing on the cake was the day of Vijay Dashmi (dussera) which is my father’s birthday. As children, we always looked forward to the Puja holidays. It was the best time of the year. The air smelt of joy, happiness and celebrations.
This year, for the first time in my life, I will celebrate Durga Puja without my mother, father and aunt. They all have become now part of my memory. From ‘is, are, has’ — all three of them have moved to ‘was, were and had’. There’s an ache in my heart but as they say, life must go on. The dance must continue with its own rhythm. We must take a step forward even as we all twirl, twist or sometimes even fall while sashaying through life. But there’s a joy in dancing through day, night, failure, success, love, longing and most importantly through the corridors of memory. Happy dancing, Ahmedabad.