The Dandiya Raas dance originated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Goddess Durga’s honor. This dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. This dance is also nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance’. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Goddess Durga.
The origin of these dances can be traced back to the life of Lord Krishna. Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navaratri in Gujarat but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well.
Originating as devotional Garba dances, which were always performed in Durga’s honour, this dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed “The Sword Dance”. During the dance, dancers energetically whirl and move their feet and arms in a complicated, choreographed manner to the tune of the music with various rhythms. The dhol is used as well as complementary percussion instruments such as the dholak, tabla, bongos and others.
The sticks (dandiyas) of the dance represent the swords of Durga. The women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas (traditional attire) dazzling with mirror work and heavy jewellery. The men wear special turbans and kedias, but this varies regionally.
Garba is performed before Aarti (worshipping ritual) as devotional performances in the honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of merriment. Men and women join in for Dandiya Raas, and also for the Garba. The circular movements of Dandiya Raas are much more complex than those of Garba. The origin of these dance performances or Raas is Krishna. Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navratri in Gujarat, but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well. The Mers of Saurastra are noted to perform Raas with extreme energy and vigor.