Dholi taro dhol baje!

While the Bengali in me loves this time of the year because it ushers in the most important festival on the Bengali calendar (Durga Puja), I have always been secretly envious of my Gujarati and Rajasthani friends who totally live it up during the Navratri dancing the nights away, doing the dandiya/garba in style.

Now, nine continuous days of festivities can be a bit of a challenge, sartorially speaking. One might run out of options or pull out one’s hair trying to determine what to wear the following night.  The others might have other kinds of issues like not wanting to go completely ethnic.

Since it’s the season of giving, I thought of drawing up a handy Navratri guide for all you garba/dandiya enthusiasts. So, while you are trying to learn the nuances of the stick dance, we are here to ensure you look your ethnic best.

The following are a few things to keep in mind before you head out for the big nights:

# If you have picked a heavily embellished lehenga/ghagra, go minimal with the jewellery and vice versa. You don’t want to end up looking like gthe much dreaded Christmas tree.

# Navratri is incomplete without the super scorching backless cholis. But wear one only if you have a spotless, well toned, sexy back to show off. Please don’t do the number if you have flab on your back or have bacne(back acne). A modest choli with interesting details on the sleeve is a good alternative.

# Wear kolhapuris/jootis with your lehenga.  They not only look lovely with ghagras but are also comfortable and won’t leave you with bites at the end of a long night.

#A maang tika is a good way to make a statement. If it’s a chunky one you’re wearing, you can actually do without earrings. Also, make sure you wear interesting armlets in antique silver, as this is one of the few occasions that will give you an opportunity to wear it.

#Flowers of the season and gajras are wonderful options to do up your hair. Make sure you’re comfortable in them. You don’t want them falling off in the midst of your twirls.

# It’s perfectly alright if you don’t have nine ensembles for the nine nights. Try to mix and match and create different looks with what you have. That way, no one would be able to tell if you repeat an ensemble.

# If you’re reluctant to go the lehenga choli way, wear a sexy backless number with a pair of fitted, smart trousers. You could also team an ethnic blouse with a short skirt to up the style ante.

# Gentlemen, now is the time to bring out your voluminous kedias. Team it up with a simple dhoti, and see how it works magic on the dance floor. The other option is to wear a  simple kurta with churidar. Don’t even think about wearing a tee shirt to a dandiya night. You might be refused entry.


I also spoke to renowned designer Archana Kochhar (see  pic below), who dresses the likes of Amrita Rao, Sameera Reddy and Ayesha Takia, and she shared a few valuable tips about doing the lehenga right. This is what Archana had to say:

“Ghagras adorned with embroidery and abla work (mirrors), beads and shells are wonderful. Pair a bright ghagra and choli with a contrasting  heavy dupatta with mirror-work. A multi-coloured ghagra is also a good option. A smart embroidered sharara will surely set you apart from the crowd. Traditional accessories like Kadas, Jhumkas, paijans(payal) go well with them. One can also try a cotton lehnga with a heavily embroidered backless top and a plain skirt. Mix and match with a bandhini dupatta. Silver jewellery will go best with this attire.”

Hope this helps. And now, out with your dandiya sticks!


 Image courtesy: idiva.com