With the Full Moon night of this lunar month, the season of festivals begins in India.\nThe festival phase of the year coincide with the lean activity phases in farming \u2013 so the community enjoyment does not interfere with the primary income generating work in the fields.\nBecause festivals in India \u2013 no matter what the economic group \u2013 are BIG.\nFood takes centre stage. The Indian community already loves the food spectrum and views food preparation as a domestic folk art practiced in every home. For example the two main meals in a middle class household consist of DBRS \u2013 Daal Bhaat Rotli Shaak : Bread, Rice, Veggies & Lentils.\u00a0 This is in addition to the breakfast and the afternoon snack. This implies that at least one person\u2019s complete attention is devoted to the kitchen or \u2018chauka bartan\u2019 activities.\nDuring festivals this activity doubles or triples as guests must be planned for and interesting rare items must be prepared to WOW them.\nAnd therefore it is important that these festival celebrations are held when no one is needed elsewhere for income generating activities.\nBeginning with Raksha Bandhan that usually falls in August, festivals continue until Holi, usually in March-April.\nEach festival is fun and noteworthy.\nBut the funnest of all is Navratri.\n\nIt is the festival of folk dance in Gujarat.\u00a0 Men & women young and old participate in the circle folk dance for 9 nights in their own neighbourhoods.\u00a0 After dinner, everyone sets out and gathers together at a predetermined spot. As always, festivals have a religious symbolism or reason, which in this case is connected to the story of Amba \u2013 the Goddess of strength. And so every night the gathering first conducts an arti or flame worship ritual of an installation of the Goddess and hymns are sung with great energy. This sets the mood for the evening and the dancing begins.\nTraditionally, one of the women sings and this song is repeated by the other dancers. There may be a drummer but that is not necessary. The\u00a0 group assembles in a circle and with rhythmic clapping and singing the circle goes around gracefully.\nSongs are handed down from generation to generation and most are old traditional songs.\nWhen clapping is the only hand movement used, the dance is called the Garba. Traditionally these were women only dances.\nThere are other fast paced dances that are danced by men alone called the Garbi.\nAnd then there are the dances with the sticks that require two concentric rings of people facing each other, one moving clockwise and the other moving anticlockwise and tapping their sticks as they pass each other. This is the Dandiya Raas dance.\nIn the olden days Navratri was magical because it was possibly the only time when socialising took place in the dark of the night.\u00a0 There was the magic of getting to know people in the neighbourhood. There was bonding of one family with another and the community knit itself closer through all the dance steps and the fun had together.\nGreat grandmas and young children, everyone was together. In those days there never was any premium attached to being younger. On the contrary being older earned you respect and many privileges. It was a wonderful time for all!\nToday a lot of that magic is lost with commercialisation of Navratri and Bollywood music blaring through speakers, larger crowd in cricket fields instead of personal neighbourhood dances.\nBut maybe, in rural Gujarat life is still beautiful. Maybe the soul of Navratri is still preserved there.\nMaybe.\njm\nAug 2013\nRELATED ARTICLE : VINTAGE NAVRATRI OUTFITS \u2013 GHAGRAS, CHANIYAS & DHOTIS\n\u00a0\nSave\nThe post Navratri \u2013 the Festival of Garba and Raas Dance appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.