Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicks with Sticks aka Dandiya Night

Dandiya night at the Adarsh Vista club house. This was another example of how the Indian culture is so all-embracing. Since we have been here we have been welcomed so enthusiastically to join and take part in all traditional festivities. This was a great night - music, dancing, socializing and food!!

Wills was sleeping over somewhere else in Vista, Simon in Mumbai on a biz trip and Ads somewhere with his buds in the 'hood, but keeping well away from the music and dancing. So it was up to me to represent the Towers family, armed with my sticks. Dandya sticks represent the Goddess Druga's sword. Druga, meaning invincible, is the embodiment of creative feminine force! She stands for fearlessness and patience. Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an inhuman force/demon named Mahishasura, who could not be defeated by either man or one of the gods. When the going gets tough, in legend as in life, you need a woman!!  At the end of nine days Druga eventually defeated Mahishasura. This is part of the Navarartri festival which I do have more to blog about. 

The clubhouse was lit up, the DJ in place and everyone (except for me - having been more than feeble here) clothed either in Gujarati (lots of color and festooned with mirrors and sequins) dress or equally vibrant traditional Indian attire. Not only the Indians but the French and Dutch kept up the European end with their Indian outfits. Next year I will be more appropriately attired.

Not only did I have to master the tapping of my sticks, without causing anyone any injury, but also draw on reserves of stamina! Some of the dances had set patterns and stick taps, but of course there was some flexibility and everyone inserted their own little flourish. Two circles - inner and outer, 3 or 4 dance moves with sticks (without hitting anyone!) facing one partner, quick twirl and move on to face another partner. For the British, it's a bit like barn dancing with weapons! It was so much fun and everyone had patience while I fumbled with my sticks!
When the sticks were downed the dancing continued - the colors, the rhythms oscillating into the night.
Luckily, to replenish our energy reserves, there was wonderful Indian street food. I love this food but for gastrointestinal reasons we can't just stop, jump out the car and buy from the street sellers so we only get to eat this when it is catered. My favorite Indian foods to date are not the more fancy Indian foods, but the street/snack foods - the dosa, pabhaji and pan puri.

At some point I found Ads who told me he was tired and was going home to bed but it was OK if I stayed out - role reversal or something here. But he did tell me he'd seen me dancing and while I wasn't embarrassing I did stand out - I took that as a compliment but I'm not 100 percent sure!

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