Garba, Dandiya and Navratri
Garba is a dance form originated in Gujarat, performed during Navratri – a 9-day festival of Goddess Durga. You can find more information about Navarthri below. Garba is also known as Garbi, Garbha or Garbha Deep. In ‘Garbha Deep’, the word ‘Garbha’ is a Sanskrit term, which means womb and ‘Deep’ means little earthen lamps. It is usually performed in a circle around a big lamp or the statue of Goddess Shakti.
Garba is often confused with Dandiya, which is another dance form of Gujarat performed during Navratri, but originated in Vrindavan. The major difference between the two dance forms is that the Garba dance is performed in circular movements with hands and feet, it represents the circle of life, which moves from life to death to rebirth, leaving only the Goddess Durga unmoved, unchanging and invincible. It is performed in a ring form with circular movements that is quite similar to the Sufi dancers, who too move in a spiral.
While Dandiya is played with colorful sticks. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga. Soit is actually known as “the sword dance”. It is the staging of the fight between Maa Durga and Mahishasura through vigorous dance and steps. The movements of Dandiya are a lot more complex and intricate than those of Garba. While Garba signifies the birth of life, Dandiya signifies the destruction of evil. Both go hand in hand and the Navratri Puja is considered incomplete without one of the two.
The main difference between the ‘Garba’ and ‘Dandiya’ dance performances is that Garba is performed before ‘Aarti’ while Dandiya is performed after it. The steps to Garba are soothing and so are the songs while the Dandiya songs have a lot more beats and energy. Garba is performed exclusively by women, men and women join in for Dandiya.
The women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas dazzling with mirror work and heavy jewellery.
What is Navratri? Why is it celebrated?
The word “Navaratri” is a conjunction of two words “nava” (meaning “nine”) and “ratri” (meaning “night”). Spread over 9 nights and 10 days, it is one of the most sacred festivals in Hinduism where we worship Goddess Durga or Shakti, which represents the energy of the universe, in her 9 beautiful forms with great reverence.
There are various reasons why Navratri is celebrated, and each has its own significance in different parts of India. Some of them are discussed below.
Killing of Mahishasura
One of the fiercest daemons, Mahishasura undertook severe penance to obtain a boon that he cannot be killed by a male, underestimating at his own cost the power of the female form, and started creating havoc everywhere. To stop him, Shakti took a very beautiful form of Durga and told him that she would marry him if he defeats her in a battle. It is believed that they battled for 9 days, and on the 10th day, Durga killed Mahishasura. Therefore the 10th day is called Vijayadashmi, day of the victory. One of the most famous idols that you see in temples depicts this scene where Mahishasura, in the form of a half bull, is being slayed by Mother Durga.
Killing of Ravana
Another legend has it that Lord Rama fasted and prayed for 9 days to seek Goddess’ blessings to kill Ravana. He kills him on the 10th day, and this day is called Dusshera, the day when the 10-headed Ravana was killed.
During the 9 days, there is a feeling of festivity in the air. Many people fast during the entire period, there are different forms of prayers and lots and lots of varieties of sweets are prepared. Different parts of India celebrate navratri in different styles; the thing that is common is its grandeur and auspiciousness. The two most famous styles are below:
Why it is celebrated?
In India, the primary theme is the celebration of truth over evil. It is celebrated as Garbha-Dandiya, Ramlila, Golu and Durga Pooja in various parts of the country. It is probably the most important Indian festival you have never heard of. Essentially, it is an art festival and the celebration of good over the evil.
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