Festivals – I

Every single time I think of sitting down to do a blog post, I have writers block. But when I am nowhere near a computer, my mind is filled with thoughts and ideas and comments that I would love to share with whoever is willing to listen/read.

So the biggest thing that is on my mind these days is festivals. Navratri and Dusshera just went by and Diwali is coming up. Most of us tend to immerse ourselves completely in the routine ceremonies and traditions that these festivals revolve around. But there are very few of us who see the universal aspect of these festivities.

At one of the three nights of garba that we got to attend, the lead singer asked all the ladies (married and single) to at least make fives rounds around the deity. The guys were a bit amused but later in the night, one of my friends asked why the singer said so. I said that the song that the singer made the women dance to was about the longevity of the life of the husband. I also mentioned how the real meaning of garba and the nine nights was lost in all the fashionably modern ways of Navratri and that when I get a chance I will write it out for him what all this really means to me.

So what is Navratri really? It, arguably, is the longest religious dance fest in the world. It is the festival of nine nights when, through dance, the Goddess is worshipped. Most people seem to have forgotten that it is not just a dance; it is a form of worship. It has its origins in Gujarat where it is also called ‘Garba’. Garba comes from the word Garbha which literally means the womb. This festival is the celebration of the Shakti (The Primordial Power), the female aspect of creation that gives birth to the entire universe and sustains it.

Garba is performed in circles. The reasoning behind this is that the circle is a representative of the on-going, continuous cycle of birth and death. Just like the participants in the garba enter and leave the circle, in the same way people come and go in the circle of life. Irrespective of this, the circle keeps moving in a nonstop fashion. It may come across as being done only by the women but it is also done by the men. After all, worship is worship. And there are no bars.

Knowing all this, garba is really special to me. Yes, there are cute guys and yes, there’s always some social interaction and fun going on. But the essence remains. With almost every step I take during garba, I remind myself of what it really is all about. The moments are filled with awe and sincere devotion to That which is, which always will be.


to be continued…

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