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Durga Pooja - Navratra - Fairs and Festivals in India

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Nav means nine and ratri means night, thus, Navratri means nine nights. There are many legends attached to the conception of Navratri like all Indian festivals but all of them are related to Goddess Shakti (Hindu Mother Goddess) and her various forms. Though it is one of the most celebrated festivals of Hindu calendar, it holds special significance for Gujratis and Bengalis and one can see it in the zeal and fervor of the people with which they indulge in the festive activities of the season. The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion, next three to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally, last three to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge) dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan.

Dandiya and Garba Rass are the highlights of the festival in Gujarat while farmer sow seeds and thank the Goddess for her blessings and pray for better yield. In olden times, this festival was associated with the fertility of Mother Earth who feed us as her children. Sweetmeats are prepared for the celebrations and children and adults dress up in new bright-colored dresses for the night performances. With commercialization, the festival has moved on to be a social festival rather than a religious or agrarian festival. In some communities people undergo rigorous fasts during this season that lasts for the nine days of the festival, only to be opened on the tenth day of Dussehra. However, nothing dampens the spirit of the devout followers of Mother Goddess as they sing devotional songs and indulge in the gaieties of the season.

Navratri Celebrations in Different Parts of India
In West Bengal, it takes the form of Durga Puja, an occasion to celebrate the Triumph of Good over Evil. According to legend, a vicious buffalo-demon, Mahishasura, had raised hell at the gates of heaven, causing widespread terror. The Goddess Durga was actualised by the combined efforts of all the deities to slay him. Thus, Durga astride a lion, with an assortment of weapons in her 10 hands, slayed Mahishasura. Durga is also worshipped as Shakti, and beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess adorn elaborate pandals (marquees) for five days (starting from the fifth day of Navratri). Believers (and non-believers) flock to these pandals with gay abandon. On the tenth day of the celebrations, the idols are carried out in colourful processions to be immersed (visarjan) in a river or a pond.

In the state of Punjab, people usually fast during this period, for seven days, and on Ashtami, the eighth day, devotees break their fast by worshipping young girls who are supposed to be representatives of the Goddess herself by offering them the traditional puris (sort of deep-fried Indian bread), halwa (a dessert primarily made of flour and sugar), chanas (Bengal gram) and red chunnis (long scarves). In this region, the festival is predominantly linked with harvest. This is the time of the khetri, (wheat grown in pots in the urban context) that is worshipped in homes, and whose seedlings are given to devotees as blessings from God.

Garbha and Dandiya Rasa - The Highlights of Navratri
The festival of Navratri acquires quite a fascinating and colourful dimension in the region of Gujarat, and in some parts of Rajasthan and . The highlights of the festival are the extremely colourful dances of Garbha and Dandiya-Rasa during which, both men and women dressed in the traditional attires of dhoti-kurta (traditional Indian attire worn by menfolk, comprising a long shirt and a long flowing garment worn over the lower part of the body), and chania-choli (mirror-work skirts and blouses), put up stunning performances to the vibrant rhythm of music. These dances are performed around the traditionally decorated terracotta pot called the garbi that has a small diya (lamp) burning inside signifying knowledge, or light meant to dissipate the ignorance, or darkness, within. Dholak players (drummers) accompany the dancers, and groups of singers sing songs handed down generations.

Today the commercialisation of these dances seems evident, with the traditional and delicate rhythms being replaced by alternate forms that are quite far-removed from the original versions.

As a dance form, the Garbha is mainly performed by women. The leader starts with the first line of the song. Other dancers who sway gracefully, with their arms describing movements in perfect synchrony to the rhythmic clapping, or beating of sticks then pick this up.

Yet another variation of the Garbha is the Goph Guntan, or the string dance. As the dancers execute the movements, they hold on to one end of a rope in strands, while the other end of the rope is tied either to the ceiling or a wooden pole. Gradually, as the dancers weave in and around each other, a braid is formed. It is quite an interesting sight as it takes a certain degree of skill and accuracy to intertwine and untangle the braid without falling out of pace.

Durga Pooja Navratra - Fairs and Festivals in India - unique adventure, travel, experience, tours, packages, plans, itinerary, indian, luxury, medium, budget, cheap, unique, adventure, tours, travel, packages, plans, fairs and festivals, Durga Pooja, Navratra, itinerary

 

Fairs & Festivals in India

Buddha Purnima
Durga Pooja Navratra
Vijayadashmi
Holi - Festival of Colors
Teej - Festival of Women
Elephant Festival
Onam in Kerala
Kumbha Mela
Deepawali - Festival of Lights
Gangaur in Jaipur
Makar Sankranti
Pushkar Camel Fair
Nagaur Cattle Fair
Summer Festival in Mount Abu
Jaisalmer Desert Festival
International Kite Festival
Pongal Festival
Magh Bihu Festival
Mamallapuram Festival
Kolkata Festival
Modhera Dance Festival in Gujarat
Bikaner Camel Festival
Baneshwar Fair
Taj Mahotsav - Agra
Konark Festival in Orissa
Khajuraho Dance Festival
Khatushyam Ji Fair
Rangoli Bihu in Assam
Champakulam Boat Race in Kerala
Guru Purnima
Amarnath Yatra
Ganesh Chaturthi
Independence Day
Raksha Bandhan
Janmashtami
Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alleppey, Kerala
Ganga Mahotsav
Chandrabhaga Fair
Christmas
Chennai Dance Festival
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