India - Navaratri Festival

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Navratri Festival

The uniqueness with which each of our festivals is celebrated adds spice to the fun and excitement that we experience. Navratri is one festival where people of all age groups, all communities come together to put on their dancing shoes and dance the nights away.

The festival of Navratri is also known as Navarre. Literally, the word Navratri means nine nights in Sanskrit. This festival is celebrated twice every year for nine nights during mid march and beginning of October. But the dance performance is restricted to the October festival.

This festival is divided in sets of three days to worship the three aspects of supreme power. For the first three days, goddess Durga is worshipped as the source of spiritual power. The next three days are devoted to goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of supreme wealth. The last three days are spent in worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and success. Thus the worship of these three divine female powers ensures all round development and success for the devotees.

This period is considered auspicious to start new endeavors. On the tenth day of navartri in October, an effigy of Ravana who represents evil is burnt to mark the victory of Ram who represents good and sacred. Lord Ram planned his attack on Shri Lanka during this auspicious period to ensure victory.

The festival is celebrated with intense fervor and zest in whole of India in different ways. It is most spectacularly celebrated in Gujarat, where performance of garba or dandia-ras, Gujarat's popular folk-dance, is done throughout the nights of these nine days in public squares, open grounds and streets.

Grand pandals are constructed and elaborate arrangements are made for uninterrupted dance during the night. Celebrities are invited to come and join the common man in his dancing ritual .The atmosphere is very joyous and colorful.

The dance programs start at around 10 PM and as the night progresses; the rhythm picks up and climaxes at the advent of dawn. At the end of a typical dancing session, people are incapable of walking, but as another evening approaches the young especially come back with their partners with zeal and vigor. It is a partner dance and young couples learn and practice it days in advance.

There are competitions galore and every nook and corner of the town comes alive with the live music which plays non stop. It is one big carnival going on in the states of Gujarat and Maharastra. We see these dance performances all over India but in these two states the enthusiasm is incomparable.

In West-Bengal, during Navratri, Durga puja is celebrated with true devotion. The whole atmosphere is filled with fun and excitement. It is one of the most awaited festivals; it is the festival which combines endless devotional, religious, cultural and recreational activities for almost a fortnight.  


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