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Navratri in Gujarat famous for Dandiya Raas or Garba Dance

The first nine days in the Ashwin month is celebrated differently in different parts of India by Hindus. In Gujarat, the Navratri period is noted for Dandia Ras or Garba Dance, which continue till late night during the period. The dance is also referred as ‘stick dance’ due to the rhythmical striking of dandiyas during the dance. In 2017, Navaratri begins on September 21 and ends on September 29.

Navratri in Gujarat is not just dancing alone; there is religious worship of Shakti, referred as Mother or Mataji. People visit shrines and there is the special worship of Goddess Shakti at home. The worship of Mother Goddess is performed by lighting an earthen pot filled with holes. The light from the holes symbolically represents the Goddess. The Garba Dance is also held in front of an image of Goddess and around the illuminated earthen pot.

The word Garba comes from the earthen pot, which is lit and kept in every house during the Navratri period. In the beginning, the pot was lit on the first night of Navratri and family members used to dance around it and it was purely a family affair. Nowadays, it has become a social and community activity and Navratri in Gujarat is today famous for the Dandiya Ras or Garba Dance competitions.

The Dandiya Ras takes place around the Garbo pot. The Chania Choli, the colorful dress, worn by women is another highlight of the dance. Men wear the traditional Dhoti Kurta. The accompanying music is provided by a drummer and a singer. The striking of the stick in unison also creates a unique musical effect. The dance begins on a slow pace and gradually gains momentum with the fast drumming in the background. The dance reaches its zenith and then suddenly there is a pause. The sequence is repeated again.

Today, the Garba performance is a professional affair and groups begin preparations in advance. In cities, traditional music at times gives way to fast Bollywood numbers.


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