Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritage

UNESCO just approved including Gujarat's most popular folk dance form as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. A ritualistic and devotional dance performed on the occasion of Navaratri to celebrate and worship the feminine form of Divinity, Garba fosters social equality, including diverse and marginalised communities, thus strengthening social bonds. Here is a celebration of the joyous, colourful swirl in photos

Published: Dec 7, 2023 05:06:42 PM IST
Updated: Dec 7, 2023 05:07:56 PM IST

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Sam PANTHAKY / AFP
Women dressed in traditional wear perform a Garba dance rehearsal around a ceremonial earthen pot ahead of the 'Navratri' in Ahmedabad on October 9, 2023. Traditionally, Garba is performed around an earthen pot with a lamp inside, the pot symbolising the life-generating womb. Sometimes, the goddess Durga is placed as an object of veneration around the concentric dance to honour the divine energy within humans.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Vijay Bate/HT via Getty Images
A Garba dancer performs an energetic jump on the occasion of the first day of the Navratri festival inside Nesco Hall at Goregaon, Mumbai, on October 21, 2023. Performed during the nine-day Navaratri festival, Garba is a hand-based dance that includes a variety of hand and foot gestures, rhythmic movements, and sporadic clapping.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: SAM PANTHAKY / AFP
A performer delicately balances a ritual earthen pot on her head with a lit lamp inside, symbolising awareness of the life-generating womb during Navaratri in Ahmedabad on October 21, 2023.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Amit Dave / Reuters
A formation of ceremonial pots surrounds a young Garba dancer rehearsing for Garba in Ahmedabad, India, October 9, 2023. Though styles vary, Garba songs typically revolve around themes of goddesses in Gujarat, accompanied by dhal (double-headed drum) and the similar but smaller dholak and cymbals, and reed instruments like a shehnai or, lately, synthesisers.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A Garba participant dressed as Goddess Durga poses for a photo with other dancers during the nine-day 'Navratri' festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan, on October 19, 2023.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Satyabrata Tripathy/HT via Getty Images
A file photo of a 'silent' Garba at Rai Mahal Banquet, Malad, Mumbai, from 2017. Rajmahal Banquets introduced the concept of "Silent Garba" nights, which enabled dancers to groove to the tunes of their choice using headphones till 2 am without flouting city rules.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA /LightRocket via Getty Images
A file photo of women wearing pink performing a Garba dance on Juhu beach in Mumbai. As the group dances in concentric circles with one step in sync, the beat starts slow and speeds up to an energetic rhythm. Garba's beat is derived from dakla that play at temples in Gujarat.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Praful Gangurde/HT via Getty Images
A file photo of shoppers thronging shops that display designer chaniya (flared skirts) for sale for the Garba dance in Thane, Mumbai. The chaniya is usually paired with a choli (blouse) that abounds in intricate embroidery and is decorated with beads, shells and mirrors.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Vijay Bate/HT via Getty Images
An unusual sight of a performer doing the Garba dance inside the Maha Mumbai Metro train on the first day of the Navaratri festival in Mumbai on October 21, 2023.

A joyous swirl: UNESCO tags Gujarat's Garba an intangible cultural heritageImage: Saurabh Sirohiya/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A portrait of Garba dancers in colourful ethnic outfits as they prepare for the Navratri festival in Vadodara, Gujarat, on October 16 2023. Garba has spread beyond Gujarat to enjoy popularity all over India and in the West, where Garba competitions and university dance troupes have notably increased.