16th October 2020   •   opinion
Celebrating Navratri during (semi) lockdown doesn't mean you have to do it alone

Image: Parle Patel
Navratri is Sanskrit for 'nine nights', and is perhaps one of the most significant festivals for Hindus around the globe. This year it falls on Saturday, 17th October.

For Gujaratis, a significant proportion of the South Asian diaspora, the nights are for traditional folk dancing including Dandiya Raas and Garba, where dancers (all ages, races, gender or cultures are welcome) swirl around in a circle while clapping their hands to the beat of the dhol drum.

But this year the beautiful celebrations will be different. As a mother of mixed heritage children it is important that my son and daughter feel a sense of belonging in this space and understand their background. And thankfully, they adore Parle Patel (pictured) who makes Gujarati heritage accessible to all and inspires the younger generation online.

So we will be joining his joyous live streaming Navrangi Navratri 2020 event, which will be filled with music, dance workshops, interactive activities and so much more over the nine days. We plan to dress up and join the celebration from the comfort of our home.

Navratri is celebrated in a variety of ways depending on Indian regional differences. For many people it is a time of following a vegetarian diet, meditation, religious contemplation and abstaining from alcohol; and for others it is a time for rejoicing, dancing and eating.

For me and many others it also represents the celebration of bravery and femininity of goddess Durga who takes the central stage when she battles with a demon. This vital message is a reminder of equality and inclusion - that in the face of adversity, women can and do overcome obstacles powerfully.

In Indian states like Bengal or Assam, homage is paid to goddess Durga in the form of Durga Puja. On the tenth day (Dussehra) we celebrate the triumph of good over evil. North Indians celebrate Rama’s victory over demon Ravana, a key event from the epic story Ramayana.

Festivals have taken on a whole new meaning during these difficult moments of upheaval. But wherever you are this season, I hope this celebration inspires the spirit of togetherness, inclusion and equality and shines a light in these dark times. How will you be celebrating Navratri this year?
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Mita is a newspaper columnist, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapist, Acupuncturist and expert in other healing techniques.
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