One of the most significant festivals celebrated in the Hindu calendar is ‘Navaratri’. This year the festival started on 7th October and ended on 15th October. Each of those 9 days are dedicated to worshipping to the 9 avatars of Goddess of power – Durga. Each day you wear a different colour that honours the respected Goddesses– Strength (yellow), growth (green), destruction of evid (grey), happiness (orange), peace (white), vigour (red), health and propersity (royal blue), hope (pink) and knowledge (purple).
The story of good overcoming evil
A powerful demon called Mahisharura was blessed with immortality by Lord Brahma. Since it’s the law of the universe that every being born must die, this wish had a condition involved. Mahisharura’s condition was that he could only be defeated by a woman. Armed with confidence and immortality, he attacked the 3 worlds – Earth, heaven, and hell. No one could kill him, including the Gods.
Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma all decided to put together all their powers in the women Lord Vishnu created to kill Mahishasura. The Goddess was created and was name ‘Durga’. She fought the monster for 15 long days. Legend says that Mahishasura kept changing his forms to confuse the Goddess. Ultimately, he took a shape of a buffalo and the Goddess Durga killed him with her ‘Trishul’ (a forked weapon), claiming victory over evil.
Dandiya nights and Garba
Garba is a traditional dance form that originated in Gujarat (western Indian state). It involves people to dance around in concentric circles with coordination of twirls, claps and various different steps. Though the steps in the beginning seem easy, it requires a lot of skill as your speed increases with the music tempo. It is one of the most mesmerizing dances to watch as you see dancers moving in sync in various circular patterns.
Dandiyas are colourful wooden sticks that are used as props when dancing. The sticks are representing Durga’s weapon that was used when fighting Mahisharura. This dance form is also performed in circles and in various groups. The playfulness of this dance gives dancers opportunity to act and exchange messages through eye contact. The charm of this dance form has been told in many stories of Lord Krishna.
The Hindu temple on Perth Road performs evening prayers during the whole 9-day festival. There is a big celebration on the eve of the final day. It consists of singing songs in the name of the goddesses, dancing, praying and having a delicious meal that reminds you of home.
My favourite part is always the food since they make the most incredible desert ‘Kheer’. It is a popular Indian sweet that mainly involves rice and milk. I will definitely try making this, but nothing can beat the one you get the temple.
University of Dundee Indian society also hosted a final day Navratri event (Friday). The tickets were sold out quiet quickly due to popularity of this event. I remember attending this event in my 2nd year and they had wonderful dance performances by their committee members. Later, the floor was open for everyone to join in and dance their heart out. Everyone taught each other steps and soon we were all enjoying dancing. They also had a mini buffet that consisted of samosas, a couple of curries, naan breads and my favourite of all mango lassi. As you can already tell, this festival event is memorable one and would encourage everyone to take part 😊
Univeristy of Dundee Indian Society
Indian Express [ https://indianexpress.com/article/parenting/learning/short-story-birth-durga-battle-mahishasur-5391513/]