Written by Ruchika Goswamy Pune |
17 October 2020 2:04:51 am
For the past month, professional dhol player Naresh Bhatt has held out hope that whenever his phone rings, the person on the other end of the line will make a request for his body to play at a small dandiya or garba party. Meanwhile, Eknath Abnave, a wholesaler in Kharadi, said that this year, he did not accumulate new dandiya sticks in his shop due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the incessant rains that swept through the city.
The nine-day Navratri autumn festival, which will start on Saturday, is associated with the worship of Goddess Durga and is not complete without the dandiya and garba events, known for their brilliant scale, grandeur and liveliness.
With Covid-19 throwing a dance over all the annual celebrations, not only will no events take place (according to instructions issued by the state government), but off-stage units, such as dhol players, dandiya-garba choreographers, with clothing rental, among other things are facing a massive seasonal dump.
Playing dhol is a family tradition and I have been in this profession since 1996, says Bhatt, who created a troupe of 10-15 players, who are paid a salary of 10,000-15,000 Rs per month. After the wedding season, Navratri is a dominant season in a year. However, due to coronavirus, we have been given no chance to play in the last eight months.
With a credit crunch, the Bhats troupe had to move on to making wooden carvings and sculptures.
While some dhol players travel from Rajasthan to play during the peak period, local players have taken on other jobs to keep their families at work, he said.
Taruna Rathod, director, Art 4 Fun, which has organized Rangila Raas for the past five years, said there have been general economic consequences not only for the organizers but also for the small retailers and professionals associated with the event. Vendors in charge of lawn, lights, sound, food and crafts are all facing a financial stalemate, she said. I have been choreographing authentic dandiya and garba dances, and we often rent costumes for members, which in itself is a fifty thousand business for them.
Rathod also said that while she has made efforts to hold dandiya-garba master classes so that customers can attend from the safety of their homes, people have been deprived of festive enthusiasm due to the pandemic.
For Yogesh Mehta, a stylist at Sujata Dresses in Kasba Peth, modeling traditional costumes for Navratri begins a few days after Rakshabandhan. Customers and sets of traditional Navratri jewelry are our strength. We source materials from Gujarat and Rajasthan, and offer authentic designs for rent as well as purchase. With a team of seven carpenters (craftsmen) and designers, we prepare each year for the season, and also deliver on request. This year, despite no orders, I have decorated the shop to keep the spirit alive, Mehta said.
Meanwhile, staff at BookMyFancyDress, Akurdi, said seasonal rentals make up 10 percent of their annual business. Starting from a rental range of Rs 250, we get massive traffic for chaniya choli or ghagra cholis for women, and for kediyu, which is a clothing worn by men. We also receive wholesale orders from dance groups. We usually book newer designs months ago, from Gujarat and Rajasthan, keeping in mind the distribution over the states, but this year, we did not start it, said a staff member.
Abstract Moodz dance choreographers Yogesh Gosavi of Choreo Dance Studio, Kharadi and Nikhil Bhosale of Nikhil Dance Studio, Bibwewadi, said that while Navratri was in the corner, they took strong steps from those who wanted to learn a traditional dance routine, with registration fee between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500.
There are two types of dancers that we usually attract during this season those who want to clear their skills and those who have no idea about dandiya-garba. On average, we have a step between 500 and 2,000 people, including choreographic sessions with nearby companies and some corporate offices, Gosavi said.
During the Navratri season, walks for dandiya-garba vary between 40 and 50. While for garba, it takes 15 days of practice, it is a month or more for dandiya. We also have a team of 15 to 20 dancers who are invited to various events across the city, where they earn Rs 2,000-3,000 per event. This year, there has been no movement in our studio since February, Bhosale said
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