Navratri started on Thursday, October 7, and runs until Friday, October 15. Navratri, literally "nine nights", is a Hindu celebration in honour of the goddess Durga.
For many, the story behind the nine-day celebration is to do with a battle between the goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura, who represents egotism.
Other Hindus instead celebrate the victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana during this time.
In all cases, the theme of Navratri is a battle between good and evil, with the forces of good triumphing in the end. Many devotees will fast for the nine days of Navratri, cutting most everyday foods from their diets and eating potatoes and fruit instead.
‘Dandiya’ or ‘Dandiya Raas’ is a dance form performed during the time of Navratri, with its origins in Gujarat. The dance attire comprises of bamboo sticks painted in bright colors, women are dressed in three-piece attires called chaniya choli with bandhni dupattas, while men wear sherwani or kurta pyjama.
The performers strike the wooden sticks in rhythmic beats, and a drummer standing in the center of the circle commands the rhythm of the dance. People assemble in two circular formations, with the inner circle moving in a clockwise direction, and the other circle moving in the opposite direction. Though often clubbed with another dance form called ‘Garba’, it differs from Garba.
The celebrations start after the performance of the ritual of ‘aarti’, whereas Garba is performed prior to it.