The exit of the monsoons in India and the onset of the religious months of Ashwin mark the auspicious time to celebrate India’s many festivals. One such festival that everyone in India looks forward to is Navratri, the nine days of holy fervour and reverence towards Goddess Shakti culminating on the festival of Dussera on the tenth day, marking the victory of good over evil. Gujarat and its people are known to celebrate the festival of Navratri with colour, fun and frolic while paying religious homage to the various forms of the Goddess Navdurga who is worshipped for these nine days…
The Hindu month of Ashwin (marks the beginning of the nine holy, festive nights devoted to the worship of Goddess Shakti or Navdurga and is called ‘Navratri’ meaning nine nights. Its origins are found deep in the traditions and myths of Gujarat and thus the State is well-known to celebrate this festival with utmost pomp and fervour. Almost every urban and rural locality in and around the State is transformed into a traditionally decorated nine night dance festival with locals participating in huge numbers.
Two dance forms typically rule the dance form here. One is the dance form known as Raas Garba that comes mainly from Lord Krishna’s worship rather than the Goddess’ worship, from the Gop culture of Saurashtra and Kutch. Stories of relationships between Krishna and the Gopis, and their emotions, also often make their way into the raas garba music. The nucleus of every garba circle is the small Goddess shrine made with love and reverence by each community to mark the beginning of the festival. The shrine includes a garbo – an earthenware pot, in which a betel nut, coconut, and silver coin are placed.
The other is Dandiya Raas which is another traditional folk dance form from Gujarat and Rajasthan played during the Navratris, and is associated with scenes of Holi, and leela of Krishna and Radha at Vrindavan. The most distinct characteristic of this dance form is the use of two small, colourful sticks, one in each hand, called dandiya.
Originating as devotional dances that were always performed in the honour of the Goddess Durga, this dance form actually mimics a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed “The Sword Dance”. It was earlier performed only by men, who sometimes used swords instead of sticks in the dance performance.
During the dance, dancers energetically whirl and move their feet and arms in a complicated, choreographed manner to the tune of the music with various rhythms. It is often said that the origins of both dances can be traced to mythological times during Lord Krishna’s life in Vrindavan. The women wear traditional dresses such as colourful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani with traditional designs and mirror work along with heavy jewellery. The men wear special turbans and kedias. Garba is performed before the aarti (main worship ritual) as a devotional performance in the honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after the dance, as a part of marking more merriment. Men and women join in for Dandiya Raas, and also for the Garba. The circular movements of Dandiya Raas are much more complex than those of Garba.
Each night the village or urban neighborhood gathers to perform a puja to one of the nine forms of Goddess. The nine nights are also broken up into sections of three; the first is for Durga, the goddess who destroyed an evil force represented by the demon Mahishasura, and who destroys
human impurities; the second is for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; the third is for Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and art. It is a time to celebrate fertility and the monsoon harvest, represented by a mound of fresh soil in which grains are sown.
After the puja begins the music; it is unmistakable to those who are familiar with the style and irresistible to many. People begin to dance in a circle, whirling away till late into the night. It is not uncommon to find dancers with swords or lit flames and other spectacles.
The traditional dance steps are simple, though over the years people have been inventing more complex steps. Similarly, the music was traditionally acoustic, principally composed of drums and singing, but most people now use amplified sound systems or a blend in the form of a live band with modern instruments. Vadodara is a good place to find the full range of these styles, traditional to modern, acoustic to amplified, simple to complicated, each one represented in its extreme somewhere in the city.
The tenth day, Dashera, also known as Vijayadashami in South India, is celebrated by doing a puja to bless one’s vehicle, and is also the day to buy new vehicles, if necessary. It is also celebrated, probably after getting up far later than usual, by unabashedly eating lots of fafda, a salty fried crunchy snack and jalebi, a bright orange fried, round and sticky sweet treat.
RELIGIOUS PILGRIMAGE DURING NAVRATRI: Religious pilgrimage during this festival focuses mainly on the Shakti Peethas: Ambaji, Pavagadh and Bahuchraji near Mehsana. There are also major celebrations in temples such as Ashapura Mata-no-Madh in Kutch, Khodiyar Mandir near Bhavnagar, and Chamunda Mata Mandir at Chotila on the Ahmedabad-Rajkot National Highway.
Baroda is by far the best destination to witness the real fervour of Gujarat’s Navratri festival, and each nook and corner hosts a variety of options that promise to amaze you.
United Way of Baroda
The Navratri celebration is the most famous and most happening at the United Way of Baroda. This place welcomes around 30, 000 visitors every evening.
Address: 9th Floor, Sidcup Tower, Race Course Rd, Gautam Nagar, Vadiwadi, Vadodara, Gujarat 390007
The University of Baroda Faculty of Fine Arts
This ground is one of the only places in Vadodara which can easily take in scores of attendees, keen on grooving to some hearty garba and dandiya tunes.
Address: Professor C.C Mehta Road, M.S.U.Pushpa Baug,M.S.U Campus, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Sayajiganj, Vadodara, Gujarat 390002
For those who want an out of city experience, we suggest the Samta Ground.
Address: Samta Rd, Near Samta Society, Shubhanpura, Vadodara, Gujarat 390023
Shishu Sanskrutik Garba, Vadodara
If you have children willing to take part in the garba celebrations, they have a stage set at the Shishu Sanskrutik Garba.
Address: 2, New VIP Ring Rd, Govardhan Park Society Number 1, Khodiyar Nagar, Harini, Vadodara, Gujarat 390022
Allaiya Ballaiya, with its unusual name, is an indispensable addition to our list. The name may sound oddball to the non-Gujju, but the Navratri celebration held here is mind-blowing.
Address: Manjalpur, Vadodara, Gujarat, India
Dandiya Events in Ahmedabad:
It is not difficult to decipher the level of Navratri celebrations in an urbane city like Ahmedabad. With the presence of illustrious education institutions like the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT), IIM-A and National Institute of Design (NID), it is obvious for this youthful city to host truly electrifying events during the nine holy nights. By the time Navratri rolls around, you and your pal won’t be ready to say goodbye to this cultural haven. Here’s taking a look at what it offers.
Bhadra Fort perhaps has the coolest dandiya celebration in all of town and the most unique cultural performances. Its location in the old city area bestows so much originality to the celebrations and a sort of time-travel experience too!
Address: Court Rd, Bhadra, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001
There is so much to look forward to in the garba event organised at the GDMC Ground that you would be hard-pressed for time to catch a breath. That’s the reason why it witnesses hundreds of visitors every year.
Address: 132 Feet Ring Road, Laxmi Nagar, Memnagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380052
To get bang for their buck, a lot of corporate/commercial sponsors prefer putting their money on the dandiya fest held at the Rajpath Club. With its impressive music and competitions, the Navratri event at the Rajpath Club is a jolly good.
Address: S G Highway Road, Bodakdev, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380059
A hit among the local population, the Karnavati Club is preferred for its garba events. Do not hesitate to ask the friendly locals for some help in learning a few steps.
Address: Gandhinagar-Sarkhej Highway, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380058
For those of you looking for some different and unusual, visit the celebration grounds of the NID/CEPT where the unique brain, brawn and beauty indulge in nine-day-long revelry.
Address: Opposite Tagore Hall, Paldi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380007
Gandhinagar Navratri Celebrations:
Gandhinagar as Gujarat’s capital city takes pride in hosting classes on Gujarat Navratri garba unlike other cities of the state. And there is a good reason for that—it is a mecca for Navratri events that last for a good nine to ten days. So, look ahead, read the info and figure out the right address for yourself.
Ramzat Kalamandir is a pinnacle of all things nice. Awesome group dance performances make it a notable spot for every dancer, non-dancer and dance-lover. The first-rate dance performances are even covered by the local news channels.
Address: President: Mr. Hitesh Dave, 51, Shree Rangpark Society, Vasna Hadmatiya Rd, Sargaasan, Gandhinagar, Gujarat 382006
Lions Club of Naroda
An organisation of fair repute, the Lions Club of Naroda is an example of superior garba events. A trip to this venue is worth it. So, go there without a doubt and have the best time of your life.
Address: Modern Bakery Road, GIDC Naroda, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 382330
Gandhinagar Cultural Forum Ground
If your feet start tapping at the beats of dandiya, the Gandhinagar Cultural Forum Ground is the thought-of place for you.
Address: 1112/1, 1112/1, Gandhinagar, Sector 6, Gandhinagar, Gujarat 382006
Rajkot Events during Navratri:
Rajkot, a part of the Saurashtra region in Gujarat, is still very attached to its traditional roots that reflect in the Navratri celebrations it hosts. Put on all your fancy paraphernalia for the orchestra nights, dandiya nights, garba events and a host of other celebratory events if you happen to be in Rajkot during Navratri. Take note of the must-visit spots in town.
By and far one of the most popular spots to celebrate Navratri in town, the Race Course in Rajkot will surely not disappoint even the biggest party lover. A visit to the Race Course during Navratri is all you need to make a permanent memory with friends and family.
Address: Race Course, Sadar, Rajkot, Gujarat
Neel’s City Resort
Plunge yourself in the Navratri fervour by being a party to the celebrations organised by the Neel’s City Resort. This property has the tradition of holding the festivities for a good 10 days.
Address: University Road, Rajkot, Gujarat 360005
For all you people belonging to the community of Umavnashi or Kadva Patel, Club UV has just what you need to get maximum joy during the Navratri. Savour every morsel of the food, dance at every tune being played and partake in every activity organised to keep the attendees engaged, because every action at this fest is an activity you won’t soon forget.
Address: 204 nakshatra-3, near telephone exchange,150ft, Raiya Rd, Rajkot, Gujarat 360005
Experience how it feels to witness awe-inspiring Navratri celebrations at a sacred shrine dedicated to Ma Durga at Kagvad in Gujarat.
Address: Khodaldham Road, Rajkot, Kagvad, Gujarat 360004
Satyam Party Lawns
These sprawling lawns are highly sought-after by the event organisers in Rajkot. So, you can imagine how grand Navratri celebrations held at this venue could be. Be there, if you can!
Address: Nana Mava Main Road, Padmi Society, Mavdi, Rajkot, Gujarat 360005
Surat Dandiya Events Information:
It is that time of the year when Surat, one of the prime cities of Gujarat, hosts a musical gala. So, say “cheers!” to the opportunity that Surat brings to absorb really good vibes and one-of-a-kind experiences. Proximity to Mumbai lets the Mumbaikars be a part of the Navratri celebrations in Surat. Below are the details about all the events and venues.
Ena Navratri Mahotsav
Attending the Ena Navratri Mahotsav will let you enjoy and feel good vibes because it is the best place in Surat for celebrity sightings.
Rainbow Club Resort
There are plenty of things to keep you occupied in the Rainbow Club Resort, but the property turns into a celebration venue for all the ages during the Navratri. Go prepared to show all the right moves as the DJs will be belting out all the right tunes so you can enliven the dance floor ala queen of garba.
Address: Cityplus Multiplex, Magdalla Circle, Dumas Road, Meghdoot Society, Athwalines, Athwa, Surat, Gujarat 395007
A music company based in Surat, Tapi Ramzat will keep its tradition of organising grand celebrations alive in Navratri 2017. The venue is subject to change every year, but promises to live up to the expectations of the attendees by enchanting the eyes and ears with a display of lights and music.