Thursday, October 22, 2015

Navratri & Durga Puja - Vapi

Navratri is a nine-night celebration for the goddess Durga. It is Gujarat's "specialty" festival with garba dancing past midnight. (Of course, the dances don't really start until 10 PM.)

The Amba Mata temple inVapi is all decked-out for Navratri. ("Amba Mata" is another name for Durga. "The goddess" takes many forms and names in Hinduism. I find this very confusing!)
The temple is for worship and having "darshan" with the goddess. The real celebration takes place at the garba dances. Just about every apartment building has it's own garba. There are competing loud sound systems every 50 meters or so in residential areas.
Another apartment block garba venue.
There are also a number of large garba celebrations in town. This one is sponsored by the Rotary Club and is its major fundraiser for schools and hospitals. The costumes are the very elaborate traditional Gujarati ones. The music is loud enough to feel like you're on the receiving end of CPR with each drumbeat.
A small child gets a formal photograph in his garba garb.
While Gujaratis like to dance the night away, Bengalis take the occasion more seriously with "Durga Puja".

The local Bengali community has been holding a Durga Puja for 32 years now. The traditional Durga set holds the goddess and her children. From left to right: Ganesha, Laxmi, Saraswati, and Kartikeya.
A closer view of Durga. You can see her elaborate clothing. Her ten arms hold ten different weapons that vanquished ten different incarnations of the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Her "vehicle" is a lion (or sometimes a tiger).

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