Mandli in Ahmedabad: Rediscovering the legacy of Sheri-style Garba with Shehnai and Dhol
No tradition or culture is immune to the winds of change and transformation. Garba is no exception, having gracefully evolved over the years. A few decades ago, it was a modest village-level and community-based celebration, steeped in religious and spiritual significance. Yet, with the passage of time, it made its way into the bustling cities, giving rise to the lively 'sheri-garbas.' Subsequently, it metamorphosed into grand party plots, spirited dandiya raas gatherings, and resounding orchestras.
But the year 2022 brought a wave of change. In the midst of this whirlwind of modernity, a group of five friends, all alumni of CEPT University, decided to hark back to tradition, longing for the pure, authentic Sheri Garba experience. They christened their brainchild 'Mandli,' or perhaps, it's better known as the 'OG Mandli.'
It's like they breathed life back into the heart of traditional Garba!
A Garba Renaissance!
The quest for that 'right' Navratri vibe gave birth to Mandli, a refreshing Garba venue that stood out in a sea of live orchestras. What made it unique? Well, they reintroduced musicians playing the soulful Shehnai and rhythmic Dhol, while singers serenaded the audience with age-old Garbas. The dance movements followed the cherished Garbi tradition, with circles of joyful dancers swaying around the Mataji temple.
The response from Amdavadis was nothing short of phenomenal. In fact, it's now become a trend, and this year alone, at least seven Garba events proudly carry the Mandli moniker, reviving the long-lost traditions of Garba.
"We wanted to offer something different. Our design installations, handmade lamps, and the spectacular Mataji nu mandir crafted with love set us apart," shared Vadher, one of the visionary founders.
Dusk till dawn!
The Garba festivities at Mandli kick off at night and continue well into the early morning, echoing the timeless essence of traditional Garba celebrations. This year, thanks to Mandli's spectacular success, many other Garba event organizers have jumped on the bandwagon, adopting the same traditional style and concept, and some even borrowing the 'Mandli' name. The younger generation, enthralled by the nostalgia and the allure of forgotten folk instruments, is flocking to these events in droves.
The OG Mandli Garba was a sensation last year, sprawling over an 8,000-square-yard plot and drawing in a staggering 25,000 enthusiasts over nine nights. This year, it's gone even bigger, occupying a vast 4 lakh square feet area with a dance circle boasting a 180-foot diameter, capable of accommodating 2,500-3,000 Garba enthusiasts.
It's not just a dance; it's a revival of tradition, a rekindling of cultural memories, and a celebration that bridges generations, all under the open sky of Amdavad!