Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garba Raas - Rich, Colorful, Vibrant!

This past Memorial Day, I had the pleasure of attending and helping my neighbor's Radha and Mahesh as they entered into holy matrimony, Indian-style. The celebration of their nuptials lasted over a five day period where the entire family was involved in planning, performing family traditions, and hiring the best of the best in the wedding industry. Not to mention, the fabulous write-up they received in the Orlando Sentinel .

The reason we, at Ryncta Productions, love the Indian culture is because of the intricacy that goes into every detail, from over the top catered buffets at every event to the imported sarees that brides travel all the way to India to get custom made.

One of my favorite moments of the entire series of events was the Garba Raas. Garba is an Indian form of dance that originated in the Gujarat region. It is more similar to Western folk dance than to the presentational style of Indian classical dances such as bharatanatyam and odissi. The name garba comes from the Sanskrit term Garba ("womb") and Deep ("a small earthenware lamp"). Many traditional garbas are performed around a central lit lamp, but in Radha and Mahesh's case around a large revolving peacock shrine with endless gems and elaborate candles. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances.

Guests dance around the center, bending sideways at every step, their arms making sweeping gestures, each movement ending in a clap. As I took my first "leap" into the beautiful circle of colorful, free-flowing grandmothers leading the circle, I felt a sense of pride in experiencing the beauty of this culture. Although the dance was quite simple, family elders throw in their own special touches by adding in semi-circles, and spinning in circles with other family members seeing how fast they can go! And, this goes on for more than 45 minutes and you wonder if it will ever stop, but then it keeps getting faster and more intense! The family members seemed to embrace my presence and I was even asked if I was a professional Indian Dancer!

There was also a huge interest in Garba amongst the youth of the Indian and in particular Gujarati diaspora in Garba. Garba and Dandiya Raas are popular in America where more than 20 Universities have Raas Garba Competitions of a huge scale every year with professional choreography. During the Garba Raas, dance is the most important element of the traditions. A dance group from the local university came in with the bridal party as they were being introduced and added the extra touch of glamour to an already over the top event.

Eventually, the dance switched to Raas, another Gujurati dance with sticks and my personal favorite. If you ever loved to play the drums and square dance, you love some Raas! Guests were given a set of two colorful sticks, which they would play across for another person in a line. And what I learned about this dance is once you start in the line, you aren't leaving for a good 45 minutes, so be prepared to bang it out!

The bride and groom had so much energy and participated in everything and that was simply beautiful. Also, Garba can be enjoyed by all and is a good form of exercise.

I was impressed with the level of compassion between the Indian community, the acceptance of other cultures, and the detail of decor. Indian weddings are elaborate because in past traditions it was a celebration owned by the entire community, and sometimes when the bride married, she'd be sent off to another village, and may not see her family and friends for a very long time. I think it's important for all of us to look back at our own heritages and incorporate elements of our own cultures, so that we can appreciate all our ancestors did to form our traditions today.

Radha and Mahesh, they were a beautiful couple, inside and out, who truly honored their culture and shared that with me. Thank you for letting us be a part of your memories!

Can we be a part of your Indian wedding? If you need day-of coordination please contact us at or visit our website at

Ryan Gonzalez
Ryncta Productions, Inc.