Sunday, 20 October 2013


Navaratri is one of the greatest Hindu festivals, symbolising the triumph of good over evil. During this time Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of Shakti (power). The festival is dedicated to Durga, the mother goddess who also represents power. Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura after a battle lasting nine days and nights.
During Navaratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and property.  Navaratri is celebrated by communities getting together for dances and nightly feasts. In India, the most colourful and elaborate celebrations take part in Bengal, where huge idols of the goddess are worshipped. Women dress elaborately each day for the puja or rituals and nightly dances.

One of our Young Ambassadors for RE (Sonya Gandhi) reports on the festival:
Navratri is an important festival celebrated by Hindus worldwide. It last for nine (nav) nights (rat) and is especially dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. Navaratri represents a celebration of the Goddess Amba, the Power. It is known as Maha Navaratri (the Great Navratri) and is celebrated in the 'pratipada' (first day) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvina. It is also referred to as Sharad Navaratri, as it is celebrated during Sharad (the beginning of winter, September–October).

There is a fairly large Hindu population in Preston and the surrounding areas who worship at the 'Hindu Gujarat Society' (GHS) where the celebration is held. GHS is a temple where many functions are held and prayers and worship take place throughout the year. In 2013, Navratri was from Saturday 5th October - Sunday 13th October. In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat and in the city of Mumbai, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Raas dance. Garba is dance which people traditionally dance after the Durga Pooja/Puja with accompanying groups and live orchestra or devotional songs. In the GHS celebration the Garba is performed then the aarti (a special Hindu ritual of worship) and then the Dandiya.

Watch the celebration at GHS Preston:

Both men and women usually wear colourful costumes while performing garba and dandiya. The girls and the women wear Chaniya choli, a three-piece dress with a choli, which is an embroidered and colourful blouse, teamed with chaniya, which is the flared, skirt-like bottom, and dupatta, scarf-shal like clothing which is usually worn in the traditional Gujarati manner. Chaniya Cholis are decorated with beads, shells, mirrors, stars, and embroidery work etc. which catch the light and sparkle during the dance.
Every year there is always a 'garba-dandiya raas' competition in manchester where different towns compete against each other for best dances and costume. Preston came 2nd for both the Garba and Dandiya dances and was awarded 1st prize for costume this year (Bolton won 1st prize for the Garba and Dandiya).

For me, Navaratri is an extremely fun and enjoyable festival where everyone is welcomed to participate and join in with the festival fun.

The next big festival coming up is Diwali on the Sunday 3rd November where there will be prayers and pujas and a firework display.

Want to learn more? Watch this

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Your blog is looking fantastic. I love the background and it's obvious you have some keen contributors.

    Did you know you can embed You Tube videos so they show up on your blog? A member of the Media Team can help, if needed.


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