Bouncing back with Garba after a long COVID hiatus

By Indira Laisram
Pic supplied

Brisbane-based Darshna Patel hails from Vadodara in Gujarat, which set a Guinness World Record in 2017 for a synchronised Garba dancing of 40,000 people in a single venue. Of course, Patel is not looking to replicate the same feat here in Australia but with three big events coming up in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, it is an exciting time for the community.

“Bouncing back from COVID, this is like the first holiday feeling. We are looking forward to this community gathering. After a long time, this is a cultural comeback to the normal times, hopefully,” says Patel, who is organising one of the biggest Garba events this August.

Achal Mehta, a much-celebrated singer in Garba—Raas and Sugam Sangeet—will be touring Australia with a team of six members from his Rishabh Group to liven up the Garba festival. Mehta has always been a guest of the Indian community in the past too. Interestingly, the Rishabh Group is well-known for performing their own self written and self-composed Garba sangeet for music lovers.

Achal Mehta // Pic supplied

Explaining the significance of the Garba dance, Patel says it honours womanhood, celebrate fertility and the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasur in a battle which lasted nine days—exactly the same amount of period the Garba festival is celebrated for. In Gujarat, the dances customarily mark a girl’s first menstrual cycle and, later, her impending marriage.

“It is a religious story that inspires me as it is essentially about women empowerment which is a part of our culture,” says Patel, whose event company SY Events is behind the project.

Pic supplied

“We haven’t had an event for more than two years, so we wanted to bring that celebration back to the community. It is also about welcoming local Australians to see what we have to offer culturally. which will help us bring closer with each other. We have Greek and other community festivals in Australia, similarly this is a representation of the Indian community. They get to see our background and what we have to share. Even for children, this creates a great awareness of culture.”

In keeping with COVIDSafe plans, the venues chosen for the events are Council approved with COVID policies in place. That means the Melbourne and Sydney venues, which can hold up to, say, 6,000 people, will halve its capacity to 3,000 so people can have enough space.

Darshna Patel // Pic supplied

“We will have a counter for sanitisers, mask distribution and a First Aid Officer available. We will advise our guests to stay at home if they feel unwell and we will reimburse their tickets. So those are the steps we are taking to ensure the best safe practices,” says Patel.

While excited and stressed at the same time, Patel is grateful that the community and other organisations are coming forward with support. “Everyone is so involved, and it is very encouraging that we have sold 20-30 per cent of tickets, normally people buy tickets closer to the event,” she says.

Truly, the Garba is a breathtaking celebration and display of colour, culture and traditions with everyone streaming off into a synchronised dance.

The pandemic’s upheaval had affected community life. “Now is the time to be safe and yet enjoy what we took for granted for so long,” sums up Patel.

Dates & Venues

  • Brisbane         6th August @ Beenleigh Event Centre
  • Melbourne      12th August @ West gate Indoor Sports
  • Sydney           14th August @ PCYC Hawkesbury Basketball Court

Click here for tickets

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