The Performing Body of Navratri: Dancing Dandiya, Dressing to Impress
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The performing body at ‘play’ during the popular Hindu Gujarati festival Navratri is investigated here. Reading closely embodied practices as manifested in YouTube footage, images from a personal archive, the play Strictly dandia (Bhuchar and Landon-Smith 2003), as well as fieldwork data, Parmar explores how dance movement and sartorial preference during Navratri reveal expressions of cultural identity. By investigating the dress and folk dances of dandiya-raas and garba, Parmar reflects upon India’s positioning as (imaginary) homeland within the diasporic dance space, later complicating this positionality, to expose the enactment of a competing regional identity of ‘Gujaratiness’. This sense of being Gujarati in twenty-first-century Britain, and not just merely Indian, emerges as a crucial identity facet. Later Parmar demonstrates how identity is dynamically reworked on the dance floor by a younger generation of Navratri participants. She too explores the desire to protect culture, vis-à-vis that which is written by the body and performed in the public space.