In the better times, I used to witness Garbha any one night, during the Navratri festival of Gujarat, often along with my staff. I really liked the traditional manner of garbha, especially of the quieter, non-Adani, non-Ambani- sponsored, the non-RJ variety. Say, like the one on the lawns of the NID: dust-free, not too noisy, dignified, peaceful, cultured.
The beauty of all – high and low, educated and uneducated, young and old – dancing in circles moving in opposite directions, such that everyone in one circle got to Dandi everyone in the other circle, touched me. And, yes, I thought the Gujarati girls looked pretty and graceful in their traditional dresses - with backs covered.
Often I used to take the Interns staying with me, both Indian and foreign, to one of these garbhas. And despite being a pathetic dancer I used to take the floor for a minute or two, to the amusement of my younger friends.
But that was yesterday. No, not anymore. Since last year I have stopped visiting the organized Garbha. Some uncouth Hindus thought too poorly of Muslims. They had the cheek to say “No Muslims at Garbhas”.
I used to think Garbha was for all. Was meant to unite. Was intended to promote harmony and honor camaraderie. To connect people and societies. To unite the whole city, like kite-flying, the other Gujarati mass festival thus far left unpolarized.
Keep your garbha, Hindu friends. For all the compulsion of political correctness, some Muslims have some self-respect left. But you know what, you have just killed the true spirit of a great gift of Gujarati culture. That of humanism.