Navratri is one of the popular and long festivals in India. Nava means 'nine' and ratri means 'night', this festival goes on for 9 nights and 10 days.
It is dedicated to Hindu deity Durga; 9 forms of goddess Durga are worshipped in these days. The last day is called as Vijayadashami, Dusshera or Dasara in South India.
The idol of goddess Durga
Photo Courtesy: Dipankan001
The festival is celebrated differently in many parts but 'Devi Shakti' is the prime deity for Navratri all over India.
Navratri in Gujarat is very grand and colourful; everyone enjoys the festival for nine days. The famous Garba dance is performed in every village and cities of Gujarat.
The mythology behind Navratri festival is that, once the demon Mahishasura caused grave destruction, after getting a boon from the fire god Agni. The boon was that, the demon wouldn't be killed by any weapons bearing masculine names.
Goddess Durga killing Mahishasura
Photo Courtesy:The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford
All the gods requested Lord Shiva to kill Mahishasura, with the prayers of gods, Adi Shakti goddess is formed from Shiva's heart. Durga fights with the demon for nine days and kills him on the 10th day. That day is called as 'Vijaya Dashami', the victory of good over evil.
Hence, goddess Durga and all her nine forms are worshipped in Navratri. This is the main story behind the festival.
Gujarati Garbo or Garba (lamp) kept in the centre of Garba dance circle.
Photo Courtesy: vaidyarupal
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance performed during Navratri. It is most amazing to watch Gujarat erupt with vibrant colours, music and dance during the festival.
Garba dance in Ahmedabad
Photo Courtesy: Hardik jadeja
Sometimes Garba is mixed with Dandiya Ras (performed with small wooden sticks), comes from Gop culture (worship of Lord Krishna and the Gopis).
Garba is danced in circular structure around a centrally lit lamp, picture or a statue of Goddess Durga. For many Garba is also a spiritual dance because people tend to feel divinity while dancing. However, the dance is a great occasion for bonding and fun.
Garba Ras or Dandiya Ras
Photo Courtesy: Brian Glanz
Garba styles vary from place to place in Gujarat. The dancers wear a traditional costume for the performance; women wear Chaniya Choli (a long skirt with blouse and dupatta) and men wear Kafni pyjamas with short kurta.
All the colourful costumes in place, people just dance to the specially composed tunes for Garba. People of all ages join and enjoy this festival in Gujarat.
During Navratri in Gujarat, many observe a fast for seven or eight days; they don't eat onions, garlic, wheat or rice. They follow a special diet during these days and on the last day, they worship young unmarried girls.
Khandvi: A popular Gujarati snack
Photo Courtesy: Kirti Poddar
Fafda, Jalebi, Khandvi, Theplas, Dhoklas, Mandvi Pak, Dudhi no halwo (sweet), etc. are some of the special dishes and sweets are prepared for Navratri feast.