Every navarathiri, the Bhatts are a busy lot. Organising garba and dandiya nights for their club is a grand affair, every festival. However, the emphasis is on the authenticity of the rituals. Parul Bhatt explains, “It is both a cultural show and fund-raiser. Rotary club’s dandiya night and the proceeds of the event will be utilised for the community services we are involved in. There is dance, fun and food for the whole night. We usually combine garba and dandiya with live bands performing the music. No DJs or pre-recorded music for the event. Even people who don’t know the traditional dance can just follow the rhythm and take part.”
No wonder for the natives as well, Gujarati garba and dandiya is an integral part of their celebration. Bhatt adds, “I have taught so many friends how to sway to the dandiya beats. They love it as much as any Gujarati does.”
One of the earliest settlers, Gujaratis are no stranger to Chennai’s culture. While they have gone about adopting the native lifestyle, including food habits, they consider it equally important to be connected to their roots. After all, they come from the land that boasts of a rich cultural heritage.
Parul’s husband Satyan Bhatt adds that every Gujarati festival is celebrated with equal fervour. From Janmashtami to Gujarati New Year, which is a day after Deepavali, every Gujarati organisation in Chennai has an elaborate celebration.
The couple add that apart from keeping their culture intact, they have had a reverse cultural exchange too. Parul Bhatt says, “Our daughter is married to a Tamilian. For her first Dussehra after marriage, I had gifted her set of marapaachi dolls for her golu. She was keen on celebrating it the way Tamilians do. I got the set from the shops near the Mylapore Tank and shipped it all the way to the US, where she stays with her husband,” she says with a smile.