No sound systems, no big groups, no lavish chaniya cholis and no women this is what the sole men-only garba is all about in Baroda. For the past many years the Amba Mata Garbaon M G road is special than others as it is the only place where the garbas are dominated by men.
While other garba venues in the city dazzles with the attractive dressed youngsters match the dance steps with each other this one in the main city has its own tradition. Everyday traditionally and simple dressed males gathered here next to Amba Mata temple in Mandvi area of the city and and play garba which is a tradition preserved for the last 150 years or so. The priest of the temple says that this has been a tradition for years and continued till today with the men danced to the garba songs.
The all men garba is so special in the way that the songs are also sung by men. People says that this is the best place to catch songs like Sonano Garbo sire and Ma Pavate ghadh Thi and many other traditional songs on which almost more than 300 men danced daily following the ek taali and tran taali steps.
But why the girls are not here in the Amba Mata garba- the answer is it’s the tradition that goes on so no one question this till now. “Its not that the girls are considered unsacred here it’s the tradition that continues. Only unmarried girls are allowed to sing with malesbut not in dance,” says one of the garba dancer Ram Kumar Gadhvi. He added that women are not strictly disallowed here they sometimes watch and even sung garba along with the men but no one tries to join them in dance.
The popular garbas in the city has lucrative prizes and other benefits for the best dancers in their venue here also the dancer get the reward. It is said that anyone who sings or dance Maa’s garbo everyday in Navratri his wishes will come true.
As not being so impressive garba venues in the city the all men garba keeps its tradition alive for decades and years and still going strong with the changing atmosphere of the city. Everyday the all men garba starts with a low key affair with every age group participates and dance to the songs of garba put behind all the glitz and glamour witnessed in the other venues of the city.
“The temple of Amba Mata is originally the temple of Maa Harsiddhi and the Gaekwad Maharaja built the temple here. A folk tale about the temple is that Maharaja of Gaekwad state went to Ujjain to bring Maa Harsiddhi along with him to his estate. Maa Harsiddhi told the Gaekwad Maharaja to walk in front and she follows behind. Maa told Maharaja not to look behind. However the eagerness of Maharaja forced him to look behind and Maa Harsiddhi stopped here at Mandvi and refused to go further. After that the Maharaja built the temple here and since then the tradition continues. I lived here for 40 years and play Garba here for years,” said Gadhvi.