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London keeps garba pure


Raksha Shetty,CNN-IBN
Sep 29, 2006 at 03:43pm IST

Vadodara: Navratri is the favourite festival when Vadodara starts dressing up for dandiya, and for nine days, the musical city reverberates with the beats of garba.

But over the years, as everywhere else, the beats of garba have changed from carefully cultivated classical sounds to remixed film music, the hottest selling product on the streets.

In this age of disco dandiya, there is still a place, which keeps the traditional garba music – for which Vadodara is so famous for – intact. And far away from the ancient city of Vadodara, the place is London.

Piyush Kahar's garba troupe has been invited in London for the past six years, but Disco dandiya there is strictly prohibited.

"The pure essence of Gujarati garba we feel only in London or US. Because we have to sing only the pure garba, we can't sing Hindi songs like Taal Se Taal Mila," says Sound Recordist Piyush Kahar.

Troupes like Kahar's are in big demand during Navratri, in the UK and the US. Gujarati communities there always insist on good old garba and band members get paid between Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 per head. And more than the money, it's the art and the experience that makes it all so much fun.

"Those who have gone from here. They haven't forgotten their heritage (patch) they remember their motherland," says garba singer Harish Pandya.

As Vadodara dances away to the beats of the present, the music of their past is thriving far away.

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