World’s Longest Dance Festival – Navratri

The second half of the calendar is significant for Indians as it is studded with several festivals which come one after the other. Primary among them are Ganesh Chturthi, EId, Navratri, Dussera and Diwali– the festival of lights.

Navratri is special for Hindus and is celebrated with great fervor by Indians across the world. The nine days are auspicious and different States celebrate it differently in the country.

In the Eastern part of India it is celebrated as Durga Puja. Large pandals are set up with idols of Devi are people throng such pandals in large number to seek blessing of the goddess.

Durga Puja 2006

In South, ‘Kolu‘ is set up in houses and friends and relatives visit each other. Also, in Telangana region women celebrates Bathukamma on eighth day.

Saddula Bathukamma at Padmakshi Temple 3 - B.Bhaskar Rao (SPACE - Warangal)

In the west India region – mostly in Gujarat & Maharastra – navratri celebrations is celebrated with folk dance. Which is very well known as Raas and Garba.

Unlike other famous types of Indian dance such as bharatanatyam and odissi, garba is much more similar to Western social dancing than the presentational style of the others. The greatest difference between garba and western social dancing is that it is circular and is religious in origin. The meditative circular movement and spiraling dance has similarities to other ancient spiritual practices.

Garba nights are also known as dandiya nights. Dandiya is a prop used in another Indian folk Raas.

Dandiya Girl
Full of energy dancing doll at dandiya night

There is something unique about Garba. People gather in large numbers in their locality or a common place and dance with sticks in pairs to the tune of songs. The dance has a unique beat to which people dance with gaiety and enthusiasm. One of the interesting part is medley of songs played for the dance. A band plays the song in quick succession and sometimes it so happens that the original song could be fast paced or have a different beat but for dandiya the band moulds it to the crowd’s favor with the great felicity! This is unique and sounds interesting!

Gorgeous Dandiya Couple
Gorgeous couple in special traditional getup

In addition, the orchestra plays Bhangda & Nagin Dance at last for a change.

Also, since last 3-4 years Sanedo has also become a part of garba. it has become a very popular dance all over Gujarat and also among the Gujarati speaking population in North America and Britain. It is frequently played during the festival of Navratri, during wedding celebrations and during parties. The music played in the background during a Sanedo recital is from a unique musical instrument called ‘Daklu’. It is similar in shape to a drum but is considerably larger in size.

Dandiya Girls Group
Getting ready for Sanedo jump

The celebrations extend late in night and sometimes up to next early mornings. During this time various eat out joints too stay open to make the most of the festive season.

The WittySparks team took snaps of Dandiya celebrations from the Western part of the country.

Dandiya Group 1
Energetic Group in traditional Gamthi (rural) dress

Navratri is a time for spirituality and celebration for individuals of all ages and one thing that festivals such as these do is that it strengthen the bond among people and brings them together. And the most unique part of Navratri is, it’s a world’s longest dance festival. For what all Indians should feel proud.

Dandiya Group 2
Group not wasting time to get dandiyas, clapping instead of hitting dandiyas