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What Navratri means to me

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People dance around goddess Durga, goddess of war, during Garba. Goddess Durga is draped in fine clothing and jewelry.

Navratri is a nine day Hindu festival that, depending on where it is celebrated, honors Goddess Durga, Goddess of war, or God Rama for their victory over defeating an evil demon. Although there are many variations of how Navaratri is celebrated throughout India, the common idea of the festival is that good always triumphs evil. In the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with Garba and Dandiya Raas. Garba is a dance that consists of a statue of Goddess Durga sitting in the middle while people circle around her and dance to symbolize the cycle of life. Dandiya Raas, following a similar idea to Garba, is where people dance with colorful sticks in two lines facing each other.

Imagine hundreds upon hundreds of colorful outfits dancing in unison with live music so loud you can’t hear the person next to you: that’s what I’m welcomed with every time I celebrate Navratri.

Navratri is always a memorable time of the year for me because I always look forward to getting dressed up in Indian jewelry and my ghagra choli, a traditional two-piece dress, since when I dance, my ghagra flares up every time I spin. I personally enjoy Garba more than Dandiya Raas, since you get to be apart of so many different dances people prepared.

I generally don’t like to dance, but during Navratri I feel no judgement. I have to warm up to dancing by starting on the outside and working my way in. Generally, the outermost circle of Garba is where the simplest dance takes place, and the fastest and most upbeat dances take place closer to the center. Even though I’m not Gujarati, I enjoy getting to be a part of such a joyous celebration.

Whenever I sat in the sidelines taking a break, I got to see so many people having a great time, dancing and celebrating with friends and family. Since everyone is tightly packed into one area, it’s only a matter of time before I’m pushed around, someone steps on my foot, or hits my hand with a Dandiya stick. It’s always a nightmare trying to get out, if you have to leave or go to the bathroom, since no one is going to stop dancing for you. But that’s what makes this time of year great; you get to see the amount of dedication and happiness people have during a time for people of different roots to reconnect for a central belief: good always triumphs evil.

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