World Culture Festival Highlights: You Gotta Garba!

WCF Garba

You’re probably sitting at work or home right now, reading as a welcome distraction from a task or chore, maybe listening to music. If you are, are you drumming out a beat with your pen? Or tapping your toes?  It’s what we all do–multi-tasking, unaware of the rhythm around us. An unnoticeable, insignificant, singular tap of the foot. Perhaps out of boredom, or maybe there’s a familiar song you’re streaming. There it is. Your toes start tapping. The song was a distraction at first, but now you feel its beat and your awareness shifts. That rhythm, that power, that shift – that’s Garba.

Imagine being from a village and the entire town gathering together for one solitary purpose: dance. This month in Washington D.C., it’s not a village that will gather, but the whole world. What does the sound of 10,000 dancers make? 

Most assuredly, it’s the sound of 20,000 feet rustling into position, the deafening silence the moment before the music begins; it’s the sound of 10,000 inhalations of anticipation. It’s a sound like no other.

For most of us, the idea of 20,000 feet tapping the same tempo with a beat that leaves us bursting, is enough of an unparalleled rush.  However, it’s only the beginning of the Garba performance experience at the World Culture Festival.

A wave of humanity will sweep across the National Mall as more than 300,000 people join the celebration of a lifetime. The World Culture Festival, hosted by the Art of Living, will unite the world in Washington D.C. as more than 100 countries stand together for peace, humanity, and celebration from September 29th to October 1st. The Garba performance is the festival’s largest and will be record-setting as the largest Garba performance ever in the USA. 

Garba’s Historical Rhythm 

Garba isn’t just a TikTok trend satisfying this month’s challenge–its roots are deep, tunneling back in time to ancient India. Garba, a traditional folk dance from Gujarat, India, honors life’s cyclical, infinite nature and, therefore, is danced in a circle.  The dance became very popular as a celebration of culture, especially favored at festivals. It is not uncommon for festival-goers to dance garba for hours. 

Dancing Garba is a playful experience. Dancers circle, clapping their hands in beat, tapping sticks called ‘dandiyas’ or drums called ‘dholaks.’  The dance increases tempo dervishly, whirling faster and faster. Garba is mesmerizing. Although sometimes danced in a crowd of thousands, it is for going inward, acting as an incredible catalyst for finding bliss from within. Garba’s influence today has inspired many renditions of the dance with intricate choreography by professional dancers. The World Culture Festival’s Garba Performance will hearken to the origins of garba, however, with uncomplicated steps, so elegant in their simplicity that even novice participants can easily pick up. 

Falu and Studio Dhoom Lead the Performance 

Falu World Culture Festival

Falu will lend her sensational, Grammy award-winning voice to the World Culture Festival’s Garba Performance. Fresh off her spectacular 2023 Cricket World Cup Final act, Falu’s singing will enhance Garba’s enchanting flow into captivating entertainment, leaving festival-goers spellbound.  

Studio Dhoom has reworked today’s complex interpretations of Garba and simplified the movements in a more traditional way that honors the original dance and makes it accessible to dancers of all levels. Studio Dhoom’s students are used to performing for unique audiences, from NBA halftime shows to their recent show for Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the USA. They will return to Washington, D.C., for the World Culture Festival’s Garba Performance. 

Unity Amongst Diversity: A Chance Like No Other

Garba Dance

Garba at the World Culture Festival will differ from traditional events. It is rehearsed, and the choreography is practiced. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration and dance Garba. Although you may have danced garba before, if you’ve never performed with 10,000 other dancers, and even if you have, register to be a part of the performance. You will be updated on ongoing performance-related details and connected with your state’s local team to practice the choreography together. Online rehearsals have been scheduled and are already in progress. This performance doesn’t require any prior skills, and with only one or two days of practice, you will be able to dance the steps deftly. Join the Garba Performance Fun! Register here.

World Culture Festival Garba Performance 

Date: September 30, 2023

Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: The National Mall, Washington, DC

Admission: Free 

  • Open to all 13+ years or older
  • Performance Duration: 7-10 minutes
  • This is a choreographed performance. Attending rehearsals is essential.
  • Dancers will wear traditional Garba attire, and shoes are required.
    Females: Chaniya choli Males: Kurta pajama 
  • Rehearsal: September 30th (morning)

The World Culture Festival’s Garba Performance will be a historical, record-making event in the USA. Sejal Shah, the organizer of the WCF’s Garba Performance, shares that dancers and festival-goers will have “a very authentic experience of garba, the joy of dancing together with 10,000 people, and for those who have not danced [Garba] before, an experience that you will relish for years to come.” 

The National Mall’s notable historical significance will continue echoing its message of peace by sharing one more unifying missive at the World Culture Festival that will resonate across the globe: “Garba for All. Garba for Unity”. No matter our history, backgrounds, or beliefs, we will gather together for one solitary purpose, just like a village. The World Culture Festival’s Garba Performance will honor the rich diversity on the planet and celebrate all cultures as everyone dances together as a One World Family. This is Garba for a cause. That cause is peace. The simplicity of its steps, also of its message, is Garba’s grace.

Look closely; perhaps you’ll see Lincoln’s toes tapping to Garba’s rhythm too. If he can do it, so can you! You gotta Garba!

Get your free pass to the historic World Culture Festival here.