Gujarati women plan ‘Ratri before Navratri’ in Auckland

Gujarati women plan ‘Ratri before Navratri’ in Auckland

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 24, 2019

Sonal Bhavsar-Joshi (From Facebook)

Fun combined with tradition will be hallmark of the a Garba Programme set as a prelude to the Annual Festival, at the ‘Let’s go Garba’ early next month.

Gujarati Sahitya Mandal New Zealand is organising the event commencing at 7 pm on Friday, September 6, 2019 pm at Barfoot & Thompson Stadium, 203 Kohimarama Road in Auckland.

About the Programme

Navratri, the nine nights of festivities mainly for women, will be celebrated this year from September 29 to October 8, 2019. However, ‘Ratri before Navratri,’ is conducted in many parts of the world a few weeks earlier, to primarily bring together young people, although parents and elders also participate in this celebration.

Sonal Bhavsar-Joshi, the young woman who is conducting the programme with her team said that the event held last year enlisted enthusiastic response.

“More than 1500 people attended, making it the largest event of the Mandal. It was a pleasure watching community members dancing in their traditional attire and enjoying at their fullest. A live band was in attendance, adding to the quality of the programme,” she said.

About Navratri

Sonal said that while Navratri is celebrated paying homage to Goddess Durga, it signifies feminine divinity and obeisance the Supreme Power manifest in women.

“In contemporary context, Navaratri could be said to be celebration of women power. In ancient India, the Festival was organised for, by and of women. Men were not allowed to enter or participate in the Festival. However, over evolution of time, both men and women come in their best colourful ethnic wear, format circles and enjoy the traditional Gujarati dance form (Garba) during Navratri,” she said.

About Garba

Garba, which in Sanskrit means ‘womb,’ implies the reproductive system, unique to women.

Therefore, traditionally the dance form is performed around earthen pots emitting light, denoting the feminine energy capable of illuminating the whole world.

“Garba is performed in circle, underscoring the metaphor of life-cycle: From birth to life, to death and then to reincarnation,” Sonal said.

Free Garba Workshop

Gujarati Sahitya Mandal New Zealand is also organising its annual Free Garba Workshop from 2 pm on Sunday, September 1, 2019 at the Western Springs Garden Community Hall, located at 966, Great North Road.

Sonal has been teaching Garba for the past four years, as she believes that the knowledge of arts and culture should be shared and promoted.

“It is my social duty to preserve and pass this beautiful culture onto the next generation and to the wider communities. As a Committee Member of the Gujarati Sahitya Mandal New Zealand, my colleagues and I hope to evince the wider interests of New Zealanders in general and Aucklanders in particular. Garba is performed at many events and I hope that the Workshop will attract more people this year,” she said.

Sonal follows a step-by-step approach so that beginners will understand and follow the art. There is no age limit to learn Garba and hence it is open to all.

“We request participants to wear their enthusiasm along with comfortable clothes and shoes so that they can dance with ease. Please bring a bottle of water remain hydrated. You are welcome to bring your own snacks,” she said.

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