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Garaga : An Unique & Significant Folk Dance

Garaga : An unique and ancient folk dance style prevalent in the East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is also known as the ghata dance. The dance is performed with a form of the Goddess Garagalu, hence the name Garaga.

The sculpture represents a combination of Shiva and Parvati in the form of Ardhanarishvara. It consists of a small plate (tabuku) on the round top, with a dome-shaped foil fastened on it, resembling a paanavatta. To protect the sculpture, an Adisesha (serpent) is installed at the top. The Garagas are adorned with sarees, glasses, and turmeric saffron to create a sense of reverence, similar to how actors are adorned for performances.

The Dance begins by placing a pot on the scalp and has undergone some changes over time. They are made of metal and adorned with carved figures of Adisesha. The shape of the Garaga resembles a Purnakumbha. These serve as village deities in Ammavari’s groves, known by various names. They are worshipped and brought out of the sanctum sanctorum during fair times.

The dance is performed with great devotion by the Asads, who are individuals devoted to the dance as a profession. The Asads wear the Garagas on their heads and dance rhythmically to the beats of drum instruments. Some Asads even walk on burning ashes as a proof of their devotion. The dance is performed to make the goddess happy and inspire the onlookers. After the dance, the Garagas are returned to the idol of the goddess in the sanctum sanctorum.

Garaga Dance By Women

It is also performed by women in Tamil Nadu under different names such as Karaga in Karnataka and Karagam in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Garike, Garika, Gariga, or Garige.

The Dance is skillfully performed by the dancers, accompanied by rhythmic instrumental support from drummers. The combination of the dancers’ movements and the music creates a beautiful spectacle. Participating in the dance is considered a way of serving the mother goddess. Some legends claim that Draupadi, during her marriage, sanctified the nearby kalash by dancing with it, which led to the tradition of Garaga dance.

Overall, The dance is a revered and cherished folk dance form that holds cultural and religious significance in the regions where it is practiced.

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