Dandiya and Garba are the featured dances of Navratri evenings in North India, originating in Gujarat. Navaratri is the longest Hindu festival celebrated all over India for nine consecutive nights in praise of Lord Rama (Hero of the Epic Ramayana) and Goddess Durga from the end of September to early October.
The Dandiya Raas danceOriginated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Durga's honor, this dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed "The Sword Dance". The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga. The women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas (traditional attire) dazzling with mirror work and heavy jewellery. The Men wear special turbans and kedias, but can range from area to area. The dancers whirl and move their feet and arms in a choreographed manner to the tune of the music with lots of drum beats. The dhol is used as well as complimentary percussion instruments such as the dholak, tabla and others. The true dance gets extremely complicated and energetic. The Raas is associated with bhang also known as marijuana whereas the dance of Punjab, Bhangra is associated with alcohol, and both of these dances are associated with the time of harvest.
The main difference between the Garba and Dandiya dance performances is that Garba is performed before Aarti (worshipping ritual) as devotional performances in the honor of the Goddess while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of merriment. While Garba is performed exclusively by women, men and women join in for Raas Dandiya. Also known as "The Dance of Swords" as performers use a pair of colorfully decorated sticks as symbols, the circular movements of Dandiya Raas are much more complex than that of Garba. The origin of these dance performances or Raas can be traced back to the life of Lord Krishna. Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navaratra in Gujarat but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well.
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