It is that time of the year when Gujarati’s world over get ready to celebrate Navratri (Nine Nights), which is when garba is performed by dancing around a earthen pot of diya (candle) or image or idol of the Goddess Durga, who is lovingly referred to as Mataji.

Durga Maa, with explaination on her form
Durga Maa, with explaination on her form

Over the years, Garba has become universal in the sense that it’s not just Gujaratis who celebrate it but, festivals of Garba are held for the purpose of one and all coming together to celebrate garba.

“Garba” originates from the word “Garbo”, which is a earthen pot, with a lighted diya placed inside. Thus during Navratri, this earthen pot with the diya inside is placed in centre of the dancing area with images and idols of Goddess and people dance around it in circles.

Furthermore according to Parthiv Gohil on his YouTube channel states that “Garbo” as a word has root linkage to Sanskrit word for womb “Garbha” so thus implies life, and in a traditional context when the dance was performed around clay lantern with diya inside it was called Garbha Deep, which represented the feminine form of divinity. According to a Stanford University page, which explains beautifully the representation of doing Garba doing in Circles

” the dancers symbolize that God is also the center of their lives. The circle formation itself also has additional significance. The circle formed by dancers represents the cycle of life and its never-ending nature, tenets of the Hindu belief of reincarnation. The dance form of Garba is characterized by its fluidity, grace, flexibility, and synchronous clapping of hands to supplement the music.”

Garba in Motion
Garba in Motion

Another anecdote of Garba is the battle which took place between the demon “Mahishasur” and Goddess “Durga” a battle which took place for Nine Nights , on the tenth day Durga emerged victorious from the battle, which signifies the triumph of good over evil.

Navratri is just not about doing Garba, there is more to it, there is worship of Goddess Durga, people visit shrines and also many people hold special prayer sessions at home to worship Durga.

In end there are FIVE reasons why one should attend Garba Celebrations:

  • Garba is a time to celebrate the Divinity of Goddess Durga
  • Everyone is welcome
  • Garba Music is awesome
  • It’s easy to learn the steps since it’s a repetitive process
  • It’s a festival where you can dance with sticks.

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