Glitzy buildings and the hub of giant corporate companies are the modern definitions of today's Gurugram. But there is another facet of the city, where the old, colourful and tradition breathes under the grand arches of forts and palaces, musicians singing simple songs about everyday joys or longings, and vibrant colours coming alive in the twirls of robes.
For a layman, it's hard to image the two sides thriving together, but Tripti Singh, the founder of Ghoomar Twirl with Grace, had made it possible.
A Gurugram resident for 15 years, Singh was always a big believer in the power of networks, online or otherwise. “Having grown up in a large family in Rajasthan, I always use to stay in touch with people," she said. After she moved out of her home state, her personal networks grew and people who share common interest became part of it.
Rajasthan, her home state, has always been an important part of her life. As a trained tourism professional, she was used to showing her hometown to travellers. “The sights and sounds that are so familiar to you, how do you make them memorable for a first-time visitor? That was the challenge of the job”, she recollected.
But all that changed as she ventured out of her home. Over the course of the next decade, she spent some time in Mumbai before settling in Gurugram, with two years in the US in between. “Being constantly on the move, while a part of you longed to go back was the challenge.”
Around the same time, social media started to change the world. Singh’s network expanded to include many more connections based in India and abroad. She found people bonding over simple themes: expatriates in the US looking out for each other, parents in Gurugram negotiating school admissions, or friends just trying to make sense of a fast-changing world.
It was only in 2016 that all her interests– heritage, bespoke experiences, people- came together in a big idea and Ghoomar: Twirl with Grace was born. “A traditional dance form such as Ghoomar, typically performed at weddings, is one of the purest ways to experience the culture of Rajasthan," Singh explains. “It’s not something you can get to see over a weekend getaway. To truly be a part of it, you have to step out of your role as a spectator and become a part of the performance.”
Working with a close circle of friends, and drawing from her own deep knowledge of the region, Singh curated a signature event that transported the attendees to Rajasthan for a day.
From live music performed by traditional Manganiyar artists from Jaisalmer, dance performances by amateurs who trained for a month to get the nuances right, riddles and games are drawn from old rituals, it was a truly immersive experience. Following the success of the inaugural edition in Gurugram, the event travelled to Indore, Udaipur, and Jaipur and is now all set to return to Gurugram.
Why Gurugram? “Because it’s the perfect place to re-imagine culture”, Singh says. Like a city whose present is somewhat disconnected from its past, Gurugram faces a unique challenge in creating a sustainable future. “It’s not just about holding on to tradition, but finding relevance as well," said Singh