It is the festival that celibrates the victory of good over evil.
I reach the venue of celebration, to see thousands of kindred souls, enraptured in the music... some trying to match their steps with the groups', others trying to come up with innovative steps... still others with eyes darting and following the moves of co-ordinated choreographies. As they move, there is a cacophony of colors of their attires - vibrant hues of bandhani used in chaniya cholis as well as modern-day adaptations of kurtis, along with the dangling of oxidized jewelry and the what-have-yous of the garba ensemble.
The music is good, the original songs have always been soulful. There is a marked difference in listening to them in the privacy of your room, versus dancing to them openly, boldly in public.
I move in rhythm - swirl, hop, kick, almost pirouette in the tempo for a couple of minutes... until the mix of daze and sweat stop me. Even as I stand and stare, I take vicarious pleasure in the people of other groups.
Some people come to join our dance group. They know someone from the group. I notice that it's a couple and their friend - a strikingly handsome guy. He was the kinda handsome who, you would wish, would never open his mouth to talk or try to dance or do anything else that is high on your litmus test... you know that it is highly improbable that any of his actions would match up to his handsome-ness. In fact they are more likely to reduce his handsome-ness by reminding you of his fallibility.
Well, he looks around, seemingly unimpressed. He waits and composes himself, drinking water to cool himself, and letting the scene sink in. You can see that he is judging, but not letting the verdict show on his face.
In some time he joins in. He starts dancing. I watch him amidst my swivels, wanting to decide how good a swivel-er he is. But he is moving in his neither-impressive-nor-clumsy unique, confident style. He smiles occasionally.. almost to himself. He doesn't care if he's fitting in... but he knows he is in sync.
The stomach gets butterflies amongst all the blazing music and heat and the growing exhaustion. The basic instincts, of putting forth the best appearance, grip over. There is adjustment of clothes and hair and smiles and steps. The carefree-ness is marred by the unaware intruder. But the excitement is doubled. Along with the growing tempo of the songs, I sense a growing fire in the belly.
And then I see her - an exquisite face with a coquettish charm. She is dressed in bright peacock green, with the right shade of make-up. She is alone.
She is fiddling with her cellphone, and... looking around, unimpressed.
She looks at our group and decides to join. She is a killer dancer... with flawless synch and matching expressions. She is so graceful and riveting that it makes the 'weaker' dancers pause and watch in admiration.
There is an understandable renewed vigor amongst the men. There is greater energy.
The show goes on. The butterflies wax and wane... now there are additional butterflies of (peacock) green wings of envy.
People come and go. I dance and pause and resume and pause.
We are trying to decide on newer steps. I look around. Too much happening - vicarious stuff, colors, synchronizations, butterflies, humidity, and the escalating tempo of the beats. The show is almost coming to an end, as the music suggests.
And then, in a speechless moment, I see them talk. Clearly, they are introductions. Clearly, they are both playing hard-to-get.
Mysteriously, the butterflies escape.
I turn around to my boyfriend. He smiles and asks if I want water. I nod.