Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 06 October 2014
Watch “Editor’s Audio Note” on YouTube -
Navaratri: The Festival of Woman Power
Immediately after the 15 days of Shradh during which Hindus pray for their ancestors comes Navratri, the festival of nine nights that invokes the power of woman in her different manifestations. The festival of Nine Nights culminates in Dusshera that represents the triumph of good over evil. Navratri is followed by Diwali the festival of illumination after an interval of 20 days. The concluding 55 days of the Hindu calendar are known for the most important Hindu festivals. Among these, Navaratri the festival of song, dance and music has come to be identified with Gujaratis and their way of life. It represents the worship of strength and most garbas and raas that are sung during the festival depict this strength worship. Joravarsinh Jadav who is a scholar on the subject pens the cover story in the latest issue of Chitralekha, dealing with the evolution of this unique festival from ancient and traditional formats to its present avatar.
The ancient garbo, says the author, has traversed a long way and is as old as the Sindhu civilization before the arrival of Aryans. During the prehistoric era, Gujarat was part of the Sindhu civilization, a fact that is established from the ruins of Dhoravira and Lothal. Amidst the ruins of Sindhu civilization were discovered the idols of Mataji, reinforcing the fact that the Shaktipuja was in vogue even during that era.
Over a period of time shakti underwent change, appearing in various forms that were venerated by people. The article also explains how the shakti came to be associated with and became synonym for mother. Gujarat in fact has always been known for shaktipuja since time immemorial.
What makes the festival of nine nights more enchanting and mesmerizing is the porous earthen vessel carrying a burning lamp, which is an object of veneration, around which women dance in concentric circles to the beat of folk song and music. The word Garba is believed to come from the Sanskrit word-garbha-for womb and therefore implies gestation or pregnancy. The round clay vessel carrying a light is called a Garbha Deep, representing the fetus in the womb. It was believed that the childless woman would be blessed with a child if she worships Maa Durga during this festival. Over a period of time it came to be associated with worship of motherhood, of woman power. The dancers thus venerate Maa Durga, the feminine form of divinity.
The story also refers to the rapidly vanishing practice of young girls moving from door to door during this festival, singing songs and eulogizing Maa Durga. These young girls would offer blessings on behalf of Maa to those seeking fulfillment of their wishes. After the Aryans, the Yadavs too had a significant impact on the evolution of garba. A renowned historian notes that Lord Krishna’s daughter-in-law Usha contributed considerably to the transformation of Garbo from its religious avatar to it being means of entertainment and recreation. It was Usha who had tutored Gopis the specific dance form popularized by Goddess Parvati and this is how this art spread far and wide. From the women in Saurastra it passed on to urban women and from them it became increasingly popular and got established as a reputed dance form.
Today, our cultural folk garbas are showcased before visiting dignitaries. During the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife to Ahmedabad, our dancers displayed their art by presenting garbas. It is said that Rabindranath Tagore during one of his visits was so impressed with our garbas that he had invited the artists to visit Bengal so that women from this state too could learn this dance form.
Along with this enlightening cover story, there is a related story by Faysal Bakili who takes us to a village called Kim near Surat where Navaratri is observed in a very conventional fashion. The organizers here insist on worshipping the power of woman in true sense of the word. While the rest of the world is busy observing Navaratri in a typically noisy way, this small village shows the way how traditions can be retained and respected.
All in all, it is a magnificent cover story. While the first one is an academic journey into the history of this fascinating festival and digs out snippets of information never read elsewhere, the second part gives us a glimpse of how past traditions can be successfully preserved.
The Predator Becomes the Protector
This is an amazing story of a corporate honcho Dilipbhai Dharmashi Khatau who relished being a hunter once upon a time. It was fun for him pulling a trigger and watching the wild beast collapse before him, says Samir Paleja. It all however changed when Dilipbhai visited Kenya and watched wildlife conservation from close quarters.
Now he has developed a great passion for wildlife conservation and has dedicated his life to it. The attached box reveals how the previous government headed by Manmohan Singh remained callously inactive in matters concerning wildlife protection and afforestation.
So India could make it and how..!! The Mangalyan satellite placed itself comfortably in the Mars orbit in the very first attempt and this is no mean feat. What makes the whole mission most admirable is the fact that the total cost of the Mars project is staggeringly cheap. It is a proud day for all Indians, as our country enters the elite Mars club.
Applauding the rare Indian achievement strung together by our scientists, Hiren Mehta reveals the intricate details of the project and wonders what other projects will follow our Mars mission.
An unmissable story.
While the West celebrates feminism and its liberal values when it comes to woman, in India the woman has always been the center of our veneration, says Kanti Bhatt in this very informative and inspiring article on how in India piety and woman are always synonymous.
Besides, the issue also carries Humour column, Palak, Cardiogram, Priyadarshini, new chapter of novelette, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar and Mukhwas
If she is to come only in your dreams, you ought not to keep sleeping throughout life..!!