Navratri: A celebration of Dance, music and culture

Archit Patel and Ishani Roy wearing traditional Gujarati clothes before Garba. (Photo by Paritosh Hirulkar/The Press)

The Gujarati Community of Calgary Shines Bright, as Over 3,000 people gather for the Navratri Festival, marking one of the largest celebrations since COVID.

Navratri which translates to nine nights is a festival celebrated across India. Even though it is celebrated differently across the nation, this festival signifies the victory of good over evil.

In the eastern part of India, there is Durga Pooja, a grand festival featuring elaborate idols of the goddess Durga.

A picture of Hindu Goddess Durga (Photo by Paritosh Hirulkar/The Press)

In South India, Navratri is celebrated as a nine-day festival with a strong focus on folk music, dancing, and the adornment of homes with “Golu” or “Bommai Kolu,” or dolls and figurines, to honour deities and express ingenuity.

While in the western part of India, this festival is often considered one of the most important festivals. where people celebrate it for 9 days with Garba and lights.

The Garba celebration has started in various parts of the world since September as the artists have to be in India when the Navratri actually starts which is Oct 15th.

Garba is a Gujarati folk music. People dance to the tunes of Garba and celebrate the festival of Navratri.

Most of the Gujaratis grew up watching, listening and dancing to the iconic tune of the famous Falguni Pathak and Calgarians were nothing less than thrilled to watch the local superstar perform.

Falguni Pathak singing Garba. (Gujarati folk music)(Photo by Paritosh Hirulkar/The Press)

This event was organized by the Gujarati Mandal of Calgary in the Telus Convention Centre on Sept 15th, 2023.

The night started with aarti (a ceremony where lights are lit and offered to God) where everyone gathered and after that, the performer was introduced.

Once the ritual formalities were over Falguni Pathak started singing the famous Garba and the event started as the hall was filled with joy.

Archit Patel had one of the best times of his life when he witnessed Falguni Pathak performing.

“She is so energetic and that’s why people are crazy for her,” said Patel.

While some were astonished by the performance, some of them such as the international students in Calgary were feeling nostalgic because of the music played there.

Ishani Roy is an immigrant in Canada who attended the Navratri event in Calgary.

“We don’t often get to this (Garba) but it is just nostalgic when this (Garba) happens,” said Roy.

Archit Senjaliya dancing to Gujarati folk music. Hirulkar/The Press)

This day is not only about lights, music, dance or even about nostalgia, but it is also about the Gujarati culture.

There were not a lot of Gujaratis in Calgary but now the situation has changed. According to the census, there are 210,000 Gujaratis in Canada.

Rupal Thaker is a Canadian citizen of Gujarati ethnicity. Thaker has been in Canada for the past 16 years. She has seen the change and the growth of the Gujaratis in Calgary as she has been a part of various temples and communities for many years.

“It feels like a community event for us because everyone is busy with their lives, but I know for a fact that everyone is going to come here to celebrate this festival,” she said, in an interview conducted in Gujarati and translated into English.

This festival is catching more eyes than it used to before.

The festival of Navratri concludes on Oct 23rd.