Navratri – the festival of nine nights!
Navratri is a Sanskrit word meaning nine nights. It is a highly popular festival in India and especially in the state of Gujarat. The festival is celebrated by worshiping nine different forms of Goddess Durga on each night. It is celebrated as a mark of victory of the Goddess over the demon Mahisasur. During the celebration devotees perform a specific form of dance called Garba and Raas.
According to the tradition and Hindu calendar Navratri is celebrated five times a year. Vasanta Navratri, Pushya Navartri, Sharan Navaratri, Gupta Navratri and Magha Navaratri are the five types and fall in separate months of the Hindu calendar. The Sharan navratri is celebrated by dance and worshipping Goddess Durga often referred to as Goddess Amba. Mostly it falls in the month of October but slight variation can be seen as it is based on the lunar calendar.
The festival is a mark of good over evil and the triumphant victory of Goddess Durga over the demons. In the state of Gujarat, it is a very significant festival and is commemorated with great joy. People of all age groups perform Garba dance and women often do fasting for nine days as a mark of worship. Famed for its dance forms the festival is celebrated in Mumbai, few other parts of India, America and UK as well.
Garba dance is spotted with devotees wearing colorful traditional dresses and dance for nine nights till the wee hours of the morning. The festival culminates on the tenth day called Vijayadashmi meaning the tenth day of Victory. On the last day people perform dance in the morning and give a send off to the Goddess after seeking her blessings. With this ends the festival of dance and victory leaving the ecstasy behind.
Garba – traditional dance form of Gujarat
Originated in the culturally rich state of Gujarat, garba is a traditional folk dance. Basically garba is performed as a part of the Navratri festival of Gujarat. The festival is celebrated to glorify the victory of Goddess Amba over the devil Mahisasur. And as a mark of jubiliation devotees perform this spiritual dance by encircling around the photo or idol of Goddess Amba.
In this dance form, the devotees form spiral and circles around the idol and clap according to the beats of music. As per the beats the number and rhythm of the claps change making dancing truly enthralling. The sight of Garba is very enthralling as people are dressed up in vivid and colorful traditional dresses and wear novel jewellery. The traditional attire for garba is called chania choli (for women) and kediyu (for men). Made out of kaleidoscopic and highly frilled fabrics the dresses take the festive mood to a higher note.
Often categorized as traditional and modern form of Garba, this high energy dance has spread its wings beyond Gujarat and is highly popular in Mumbai, America and United Kingdom as well. Another kind of Garba called Raas garba is played with small wooden or metallic sticks tied with bells at one end. A combo of Garba and raas makes this nine night festival into a brilliant merrymaking. The celebration wrapped up in devotion makes this festival one of its kind.
In modern times, Garba competitions are organized every year and are awarded prices for their performance. It has established a trend over the years and caters a new dimension to this classic festival. The youth is simply crazy about this dance form and one finds people of different religious faith participating in this spiritual yet trendy dance festival. To sum up Garba unites people of different cultural backgrounds and frames a triumphant mood of dance and joy.