Navratri celebrations begin in India

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New Delhi: Dandiya sticks and ghagra cholis have marked the beginning of Navratri on September 28.

Navratri is a nine night Indian festival that honours the Mother Goddess in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It’s a festival full of worship and dance. The festival ends with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day.

Navratri is usually celebrated in late September/early October each year. In 2011, Navratri starts on September 28 and finishes with Dussehra on October 6. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.

The festival Navratri is celebrated all over India but in different ways. The most flamboyant and renowned Navratri celebrations can be seen in western India, throughout the state of Gujarat and in Mumbai. In West Bengal, Navratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.

In western India, Navratri is celebrated with nine nights of dancing. The traditional dances of Gujarat, known as garba-dandiya raas, are performed in circles with dancers dressed up in colorful clothes. Small, decorated sticks called dandiyas are used in the dandiya raas.

In Mumbai, dancing takes over stadiums and clubs throughout the city. While some people have retained a traditional flavour, the introduction of disco dandiya has given Mumbai’s Navratri celebrations a glamorous and modern twist. Nowadays, people unleash their dancing to a fusion of remixed beats and loud Hindi pop music.