February 5, 2015
My mother was most excited about the Rann Utsav. She and my aunt wanted to visit in December, but the logistics didn’t work out. As we walked out into the vast expanse of shimmering white, she called to ask about the festival, ” How are the cultural activities? Folk musicians must be there. What about the dances? Are they doing dandiya? It must be so beautiful.” ” Well, I don’t see a lot of cultural activities. Where I am, I see some musicians. The only dancers I see are some tourists who have formed a little circle and are dancing in front of them. ” ” No traditional dancers?”, she asked again. “Amma! We are in Kutch, *not Gujarat. Kutch has a distinctive and different cultural identity of its own.” A pause and then she comes back, ” So, you mean they don’t do dandiya in Kutch?”
They do do dandiya in Kutch, we just didn’t see any of it. The festival area is enclosed and we never attempted to go in, so I cannot tell what goes on inside. The website advertises folk music and dances and adventure sports, in additional to mouthwatering traditional fare. Just outside, there is a small trade fair. Almost all of the colourful traditional handicrafts sold here are made by hand and by the people selling them. They are very reasonable priced and you can bargain. This is as social as enterprises can get. The husband could barely suppress a smile as I went about trying to enquire about the price of various goods in my broken Gujarati. The evening we were there, was the evening the Governor of Gujarat also decided to visit. As craftsmen flaunted their wares with wave and flourish to the First Lady of Gujarat, a gawking crowd followed her around. The crowd would be dispersed by her security personnel at regular intervals, undeterred it would regroup moments later.
*not Gujarat – technically we are in Gujarat. Kutch is the largest district in the state of Gujarat.
P.S – Everyone in this area dresses like the stepped straight out of the movie Refugee