The Festival: This festival called
`Navratri', meaning 'Nine Nights', is an ancient and colorful
festival. It is celebrated in honour of the Divine Mother (The
Power or The Force), representing The Nature. This also is a
festival which combines religion, devotion, culture, and recreation.
People worship, offer prayers, visit temples, and celebrate
for Nine Nights.
Folk Dances: The most interesting
feature of the festival is `Garba', a circular dance performed
by women. As the dancers whirl around an earthenware pot, a
singer and a drummer provide the musical accompaniment. The
participants clap in a steady rhythm. The dance usually starts
slowly. It gets faster and faster as the music gets more rapid,
until the dance abruptly comes to a halt. There is a pause for
a while and the dance commences once again, the singer leading
with a new song.
Dandia-ras: Another dance, which
is also very popular, is the `Dandia-ras' or 'stick' dance,
in which pairs of men and women join the dance circle, holding
small sticks, facing each other. As they whirl to the rhythm
of the dance, the pair strikes their sticks together, adding
to the joyous atmosphere, then the partner changes and the new
pair continues, moving in the circle.
All Night Dancing: These Dances
are performed in public or arranged privately, for nine continuous
nights! They usually commence late in the evening and continue
till wee hours of morning. They are very popular in the state,
people enjoy a lot. There are a lot of variations in the dance
steps and the music and the rhythm. There are contests and the
best dancer gets the prize too!
Costumes: The costumes worn for
the dances are very traditional and alive with colour. The women
wear long hand-embroidered skirt with a matching blouse, and
a short chiffon scarf-like sari. They also wear heavy chunky
silver jewellery. Men wear colorful silk kurta (long shirt)
and pyjama, and sometimes add hand-embroidered jackets and caps.