Garba vs Bihu – Difference Between Garba and Bihu

Garba and Bihu both are dance forms that are restricted to two geographical locations. One comes from Gujarat and one from Assam. Both of the dances are quite popular, and everyone all over the Indian subcontinent knows their name because of the wide media coverage and the fact that they are covered extensively by soap operas. 

Garba vs Bihu

The main difference between Garba and Bihu is that they originate in different parts of India, two extremes to be exact, one in the west and the other in the northeast, and while the former is performed only once throughout the year, the latter is performed thrice throughout a year.

Garba and Bihu

Garba is a dance form that originated in Gujarat, located in the western part of the Indian subcontinent. It is heavily influenced by Dandiya Raas, which is only restricted to men and usually takes place during Navaratri, the celebration of nine nights-one of the biggest festivals, celebrated all over India.

On the other hand, Bihu is a dance form that originated in Assam, located in the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is usually performed during a set of three festivals which also go by the same name and which are celebrated during the months of January, April, and October.

Comparison Table Between Garba and Bihu

Parameters of ComparisonGarbaBihu
Location of OriginThis dance form originated in Gujarat.This dance form originated in Assam.
Time of PerformanceIt is performed in October.It is performed in April.
MeaningThe term “Garba” originates from “Garbha” which means the womb and celebrates life.The term “Bihu” originates from Bohag Bihu which is the national festival of Assam.
DressWomen wear Chaniya and Choli while men wear ghagra and kafni pyjamas.The women wear Mekhala and chaddar while the men wear dhoti.
The dance celebratesThe dance celebrates Durga who is the representation of the feminine form of divinity.The dance celebrates seasonal fertility and passion.

What is Garba?

Garba, which originates from the Sanskrit term “Garbha”, which means womb and celebrates life, is performed around a clay lantern that has a light inside it called “Garbha Deep”, which literally translates to womb lamp. The lantern represents life. This dance thus honours Durga, who is the feminine form of divinity. It is performed in a circle which represents the Hindu view of time.

The dance is done to honour the fact that all humans have divinity or the energy of the Devi inside them. This is a high energy dance, and both men and women wear very colourful costumes while performing this dance. The style of this dance varies from place to place, all over Gujarat. The traditional colours worn during this dance is either red, pink or orange. Heavy jewellery is also worn by women who take part in this dance.

The dandiya sticks, which have been taken from Dandiya Raas, are usually made of wood. Men wear pyjamas or dhotis with kurtas which are ethnically referred to as Kedia. They also wear pieces of jewellery such as oxidised bracelets and necklaces. They are also celebrated in the United States of America, which boasts of a large Gujrati population. 

What is Bihu?

Bihu is an indigenous folk dance that originates from the state of Assam and is related to the festival of the same name. The festival is the national festival of Assam and goes by the name of Bohag Bihu or Rangali Bihu. This festival celebrates the Assamese New Year. It takes place during the middle of April, and the date sometimes coincides with the Bengali New Year.

The origination of this dance is, however, known, but it can be said without any doubt that the dance originated from the diverse ethnic groups who reside in Assam. Mostly young men and women take part in this dance. The men usually play musical instruments like the drums, popularly known as dhol, horn-pipes and flutes. The women usually dance.

There are some variations to this dance in which both men and women participate in this dance. Even though in earlier times it served as a courtship dance, it no longer serves that purpose. It is a symbol of the cultural identity of Assam even though the colonial rulers looked down upon it because of its erotic nature. The dance, even though it is indigenous, has managed to stay relevant in the age of urbanisation.

Main Differences Between Garba and Bihu

  1. Garba celebrates the Hindu concept of time, while Bihu celebrates the indigenous concept of fertility. 
  2. In Garba, both men and women dance, while in Bihu, only the women dance, and men play various instruments.
  3. People who perform Garba wear colourful outfits, which are usually yellow, pink or orange, but people who perform Bihu wear only earth tones or white accompanied with red.
  4. Both men and women wear heavy jewellery during Garba, but in Bihu, no one wears heavy jewellery.
  5. Garba is influenced by Dandiya Raas, while Bihu is influenced by indigenous dances, but the immediate dance of origin is not known.

Conclusion

Even though both of the dances are folk dances and the views they represent are of two different things, they stand for the same thing that is fertility. Both of the dances are known all over India and are representatives of the Gujrati and Assamese cultures. Even though urbanisation has led to the erasure of a lot of indigenous dance forms, both of the dances are still very powerful and are known all over India.

Garba, as stated before, is also performed in the United States, but Bihu is still restricted in the confines of the state that it originated in, that is Assam. With time, appreciators of Bihu can only hope the dance form receives the recognition that it deserves.

Both of the dance forms have influenced fashion quite a lot, and the traditional dress of Bihu, Mekhala, is known all over India and tourists who travel to Assam frequently invest in one. 

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