I recently returned home from an amazing trip to Gujarat. I checked out hotels, saw great sights, visited villages and saw the most awesome textiles and art. I loved exploring this wonderful less traveled area of India. I was very lucky to be in Gujarat during the Navaratri festival and to experience this festival in both the small village of Patadi near Bajana and in Bhuj city. What totally different experiences!
Navaratri means nine nights and is a Hindu holiday that honors the Mother Goddess who protects her worshippers and destroys evil. In Gujarat, there are two dances during Navaratri: garba and dandiya raas. Garba is a circular dance where women dance around an earthenware pot called a garbo filled with water. Dandiya raas is the stick dance where men, women and children dance in a circle striking the small sticks held in each hand to the rhythm of the music. I had so much fun watching both these dances, listening to the music and looking at the most beautiful colorful clothes.
I really enjoyed this small village festival at Patadi. Everyone was having such a fun time. The women and some children danced while the men were watching. The men did not dance here. The women invited me to dance and I sat with six young women about 18 years old. I talked to them for a while. This was a joint effort between the six of them to be able to converse with me in English. I was curious about them and they were curious about me. This was great cultural exchange and so much fun!
I visited this company to see the women weave. Because it was Navaratri, they were taking time off to sing together.
This is a bigger festival than in Patadi. Women, men and children all danced here. Dancers actually had numbers pinned to them because of the competition to see who was the best dancer. This was not as intimate as was the festival in Patadi. There were many more people and had a different charm.
I must say I enjoyed all three experiences. A holiday or festival is a great way to enrich your trip to India. Not only do you see the sights on your India vacation but you also get to immerse yourself into the culture.
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