Navratri, literally interpreted as ‘nine nights’ is the most celebrated Hindu festival devoted to Goddess Durga symbolizing purity and power or ‘shakti’. Navratri festival combines ritualistic puja and fasting and is accompanied by resplendent celebrations for nine consecutive days and nights. Navratri in India follows the lunar calendar and is celebrated in March/April as Chaitra Navratri and in September/October as Sharad Navratri.
During Navratri, people from villages and cities gather to perform ‘puja’ on small shrines representing different aspects of Goddess Durga, including Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. Chanting of mantras and renditions of bhajans and folk songs usually accompany the puja rituals for nine consecutive days of Navratri.
Defining both the religious and cultural themes, Navratri celebrations are seeped in traditional music and dance. Gujarat is the focus of Navratri celebrations with all night-long dance and festivities. ‘Garba’ is a devotional dance form that derives from the folklore of Lord Krishna singing and dancing with the gopis using ‘dandiya’ or slim wooden sticks. ‘Raas Garba’ has also evolved to include steps like ‘Dodhiyu’, ‘Trikoniya’, ‘Lehree’ and several others. What’s more, with time, Navratri festival has seen changes in celebrations with well-choreographed dance performances, high-end acoustics and people dressed in made-to-order, bright costumes. Tourists flock to Vadodara in Gujarat to enjoy a mix of high-energy band music performances, singing and dancing.
Gujarat government also took initiative to make this festival popular. Every year Gujarat government celebrate this festival at GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad where city people take part and enjoy the celebration.
Celebration in Ahmedabad (P.C. Harsh Oza):