Navratri is round the corner and so is the excitement despite the pandemic. The revellers are finding newer ways to cope with the current pandemic crisis and their inability to congregate at mass venues. The biggest dancing festival in Gujarat, Navratri kicks in the festive mood like no other festival. The shopping for chaniya cholis and matching accessories is normally at its peak. However, this year has proven to be quite a buzzkill.

Pandemic has also raised questions about the idea of shopping and consumption of resources mindlessly. In India, festive and wedding shopping makes a large chunk of the year-long expenses. In Gujarat, Navratri encapsulates puja, garba, late night outings with friends and families and a mighty excuse to just enjoy the “majja ni life”.

With the ban on large gatherings, general low tempo of the festival and curiosity in what Gujarat is wearing for Navratri, Ciceroni got in a tete-a-tete with Garba enthusiasts, curators and fashion influencers to decode the what and why of Navratri Fashion 2020.

Until last year, the onset of Navratri was marked by enthusiasts picking out the chaniya cholis and kutchhi and tribal accessories from their storage trunks, swapping cool clothes with their girl-friends and finally buying brand new styles, because hey, FOMO. In Gujarat’s popular cities like Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat where the festival is ostentatiously celebrated, it’s the beginning of Navratri when one sees the bazaars and exhibition spaces flooded with crowd shopping different kinds of staples required for all the nine days. Since, social distancing and safety are of top-most importance this year, designers, curators and exhibition space owners are uncertain on how the festive season will fare.

Meera Ambasana Shah, Curator – Weekend Window and Founder – The Window Ahmedabad, elaborates on her latest curation for Navratri 2020 during the current scenario as she shares “Navratri is going to be a very private affair this year. One can expect private garba parties, close knit gatherings with friends and family for kids, and just small celebration time after ages! So, the curation was more fusion and festive centric rather than focusing only on Navratri. The curation showcased ensembles and jewellery that are versatile as people are looking for separate pieces that can be styled differently depending on occasion and look.”

With the entire country vouching to shop local, the hashtag #vocalforlocal has gone viral. Thus, trust most fashion influencers to now embrace local crafts and textiles to jazz up their Navratri closet. We can hope to see Ajrakhs, Kutchi embroidered skirts and cholis, ikkat , patola and bandhani separates. Individual creativity will be at the forefront keeping in mind reusability of the separates later on too and not just relegate them to one Navratri.

Agreeing to the idea of shopping separates and giving her insights on festive shopping, Roopal Mitul Shah, Fashion Influencer – Surat, shares “I feel that due to the current situation, there is no point getting too dressed up because there will be no large gatherings to flaunt your style. More or less, festive dressing this year, is all about pieces you can mix and match and experiment in multiple ways. For example, you could think of having one traditional staple. Be it teaming a kediyu with jeans, styling a shirt and a ghagra with a Kutchi embroidered belt, styling a detachable neckpiece with your leather jacket and lehenga for a semi-traditional look or you could also look out for hand-embroidered Kutchi jutties.”

The idea of dressing up for Navratri has given rise to huge market catering to this seasonal trend in Gujarat. There were multiple designers who jumped this bandwagon knowing that Navratri outfits will be picked up, no matter what in Gujarat. There is a lull in market this year definitely with hardly a handful of designers announcing their Navratri collection. Most of them have launched, if at all, a festive line that can double up both for Navratri and Diwali. However, those who love to shop will still shop. There will be a big chunk of style enthusiasts who will scroll through their endless Instagram feeds, scout for some major style cues and go back to their own wardrobe picking out the most classic staples.

For most Garba lovers this year, Navratri is going to be spending time with their families and close friend. Aashka Ghelani Shukla, Garba Enthusiast, Owner – Amaamee, Wedding and Interior Designer from Ahmedabad shares the details of her Navratri celebration; “This year we will be spending time with family, and caring about the well-being of those around us. But that does not mean that we cannot celebrate the occasion, after all it is the worship of Goddess Durga which is the most important aspect of Navratri! Like every year we will be decorating our mandir with eco-friendly materials and prep up for family get-together. As a joint family, we have a lot of members, and coming up with a dress code for everybody will be a fun aspect to get clicked for memories that can be cherished for years to come.”

Adding on what will be her Navratri fashion this year, she comments “I have not planned my outfits to the ‘T’, but I have definitely made a decision to wear saris that I don’t wear often. This time since we will be at home, but we still wanting to keep the festive vibe alive. I am planning to go for contemporary Indian clothing. I have beautiful mul sarees with modern prints, light-weight silk sarees that are perfect for at-home festivities and also classy kalidaar cotton dresses that can be paired with vibrant dupattas and silver jewellery. For Durga Puja, I plan on donning a traditional white and red saree, and some fresh flowers to go with them. for a modern yet traditional look.”

The enthusiasm seems intact but the form is different. Choose your separates, mix and match western with traditional, add dupatta in interesting ways or wear modern flared palazzos and kutchi jackets, but be your stylish self. Remember, 2020 is all about your individualism and comfort.