When you think of Garba and Dandiya, the one name that pops up in everyone’s minds is Falguni Pathak! Call her the Garba Queen or the Queen of Dandiya, Falguni Pathak’s name is foremost associated with traditional Gujarati music that found its way into the ’90s Indian pop scene. We’ve all heard and grooved to melodious songs like “Maine Payal Hai Chhankai” and “Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye” that came with cute love stories depicted in the music videos! Since her professional debut in 1987, Falguni has consistently wooed us with her music. Her large fan base isn’t limited to India but extends all across the world.
For many, the festival of Navratri means getting to dance to the legendary singer’s songs. The diminutive vocalist might not be as seen or heard through the rest of the year, but she emerges strong and radiant when it’s time for the festive season. Falguni belts out one hit song after another at break-neck speed, keeping the garba players on their toes. Her goal is to make sure the audience gets their money’s worth and they go back home feeling fully satisfied. Her charisma remains unchallenged every passing year. She only seems to get better and better while staying humble and polite.
Falguni & Navratri
Garba is a community dance from Gujarat honoring Maa Durga, often incorporating wooden sticks called dandiya. Falguni Pathak has been synonymous with Garba for almost three decades now. In an interview, she said, “I started singing when I was nine years old. As far as Navratri goes, I have had a very special association with this dear festival…I worked hard and was faithful to my work and always made sure to give happiness to my parents. God helped me and the rest fell in place.” If you are one of those lucky people who have had the chance to witness her perform live, then you’d agree that her music has the power to get everyone’s feet tapping and rejoicing for hours at a stretch.
Her Musical Legacy
Dressed in her signature style – donning a jacket, trousers, and short hair, Falguni takes center stage with her band “Ta-Thaiya” and sings a medley of songs that have the ability to bring out the best of Garba moves in people. While most of her mainstream Hindi songs steer more towards romance like Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi, O Piya Leke Doli Aa, Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye, she has tons of Garba and Dandiya songs up her sleeves. Be it Kesariyo Rang or Indhana Winva, the hyper-pompous beats of her songs light up the Garba nights. Her unwavering belief in Mataji (Goddess Durga) and her love for singing live is what makes her the best in the business.
Falguni is to Navratri what Mariah Carrey is to Christmas. Her live concerts are always sold-out and jam-packed. She started performing during Navratri in 1987 and has performed every year since then, until 2020. When speaking about the pandemic, she said that she enjoyed these two years sitting at home. Because she was able to listen to music, particularly the old classics. She is always learning in music, consistently practicing too. The final performance one sees on stage is also the result of many days of preparation that she undertakes to remain in top form on the D-day.
Sharing a little about the practice regimen, Falguni said, “I listen to a lot of songs especially the folk numbers of Goddesses and practice them for about 12 to 15 days.” Post the pandemic, she was back at it. It is reported that in 2010 when she performed with her band at Ankleshwar in Gujarat, 65,000 people attended her event on all 9 days of Navratri. The population of Ankleshwar, then, was 1,40,000 – which means half the city was at her show! Such is her prowess and power as a performer.
The Powerful Performer
What makes people sway to her tunes is her melody, the way she engages with her audience, her unending energy on stage, and her ability to bring something new every year and in every performance. Falguni is known for electrifying the crowd with her contemporary take on Garba songs. She mixes traditional Gujarati songs with a touch of pop to create edgier music in a way no one could ever, making it perfect for an energetic Garba or Dandiya. This has made her one of the most sought-after singers for Navratri celebrations.
Last year, she released a song before Navratri as a gift for her fans called “Vasaldi.” And like every song of hers, this too was a major hit amongst the masses. The fact that even after so many years fans throng her live performances is simply astounding. Dancers tire out and so do musicians but not Falguni. As pearls of sweat adorn her forehead, she just shakes them off and performs with the passion of someone possessed. “I will thank the Almighty for blessing me with such boundless energy. It is because of Mata Rani’s blessings that I am able to perform for such long hours without feeling the pain. Also the faces of my audience light me up and push me to give my best.”
Pop stars may come and go, but nobody will ever come close to the Garba Queen, Falguni Pathak. Garba lovers in the city have been waiting with baited breaths that come Navratri, they will be able to dance to her songs and beats. Witnessing the iconic singer live is an indescribable feeling. You have to experience it at least once in your life. Will you be attending her live performance this year?