History of Dandia Ras
It is considered that this folk dance is from the Limbdi region of Gujarat (a state in Western India). Dandia Ras originated as devotional Garba dances, which were practiced in the honour of Goddess Durga. This dance is basically the staging of a mock-fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura. The stick which is an essential part of the dance represents the sword of Goddess Durga.
Performance of Dandia Ras
Dandia Ras is always performed in a group. In the ancient times, men essentially performed this folk dance, but now the Dandia Ras a counterpart to the Garba, is equally enjoyed and danced by both men and women. In its modern form, men and women join and dance in circle, holding small polished colourful sticks or dandias. As they whirl to the rhythm of the dance, they strike the dandiyas together, adding to the joyful atmosphere. Though it is played in almost all parts of the state, the best Ras dancers are the Kathiawari Ras dancers, from the Saurashtra region. The sprightly circular movements to the scintillating beats of the dhol are mesmerizing and transports one to a totally different world of rhythm and joy. The performers add and subtract, as per the need of audiences while performing a Vesha.
The main difference between the 'Garba' and 'Dandiya' dance performances is that Garba is performed before 'Aarti' of Goddess while Dandia is performed after it. Exclusively women perform Garba, men and women join in for Dandiya.
Costume of Dandia Ras
Dandia Ras has an interesting costume to exhibit. The female dancers usually dress themselves in colourful traditional embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas that feature dazzling mirror work. To complete the look they wear decorative heavy jewellery. The men wear special turbans and kedias.
Popularity of Dandia Ras
Over a period of time, the popularity of Dandiya Ras has spread in all parts of India. In the present days, this dance is not only an important part of Navaratri in Gujarat but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well. In fact, this dance is also performed at social functions and on stage.