Namaste India


“I believe that there are days in our lives when we feel defeated in our efforts but not in our intention.

I believe that there can be no bigger God than the One within Us.

I believe there can be no bigger Buddha than that of Universal Peace.

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Healing

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Navratri



Navratri or the Festival of Nine Nights from Ashvin Sud 1 to 9 is devoted to the propitiation of Shakti or Divine Mother. She represents prakriti, counterpart of purusha jointly making possible the creation of the world according to the religious ideology of Goddess worship. Such worships were prevalent in India even before the advent of the Aryans, who adopted it as a religious practice. References in vedas and puranas confirm this opinion. The main temples of mother goddess that are visited by multitude of devotees during Navratri are the shaktipithas, of which there are three in Gujarat. It is believed that Lord Vishnu had to cut the body of Sati into pieces to stop the destruction by Shiva who was perturbed by her death. At fifty-two places these pieces fell, the three in Gujarat being; Ambaji in Banaskantha, Bahucharaji in Chunaval and Kalika on Pavagadh hill in Panchmahals.

This festival is essentially religious in nature. It is celebrated with true devotion in the various temples dedicated to the Mother, or Mataji, as she is familiarly called. In some homes, images of the Mother are worshipped in accordance with accepted practice. This is also true of the temples, which usually have a constant stream of visitors from morning to night.

The most common form of public celebration is the performance of garba or dandia-ras, Gujarat's popular folk-dance, late throughout the nights of these nine days in public squares, open grounds and streets. Females wear ethnic Chania Choli and Males wear Dhoti-Kurta and enjoy garba and dandiya ras (dance) the whole Night. The participants move round in a circle around a mandvi (garbo), a structure to hold earthen lamps filled with water and to house the image or idol of mother goddess.


The day after Navratri i.e. the 10th day after Ashwina, is Dussera which celebrates the victory of lord Rama over Ravana. Ravana is burnt in effigy, often giant dummies of Ravana stuffed with fireworks are shot with arrows until they blow up before a large, applauding audience.



The dance which is also a feature of Navaratri is the dandia-ras or ‘stick’ dance, in which men and women join the dance circle, holding small polished sticks or dandias. As they whirl to the intoxicating rhythm of the dance, men and women strike the dandias together, adding to the joyous atmosphere. So popular are the garba and the dandia-ras that competitions are held to assess the quality of the dancing. Prizes are given to those judged to be the best. The costumes worn for the dances are traditional and alive with colour. The dances usually commence late in the night and continue until early morning, testifying to their great popularity.

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