There are several forms of dance that are performed during Navratri and one of the most popular dance forms is Dandiya Raas. It is performed in honor of Goddess Durga and signifies the victory of good over evil. Dancers with colorful and tastefully decorated sticks in their hands dance to the rhythm of music.
According to legend the dance with sticks is known to represent a mock fight between Goddess Durga and the demon king Mahishasura. The sticks are supposed to a symbolic representation of sword held in the hands of the Goddess. Due to this it is also known as the sword dance.
It is after performing the aarti that Dandiya Raas is performed on all nine days. It starts in the evening and goes on well into the night. The dance reaches a feverish pace as the night progresses and people swing their sticks as a celebration of life.
The garba dance is done before the aarti and this is one of the significant differences between both these dance forms. The other difference between these two is the use of sticks in Dandiya Raas.
There are a number of traditional songs that are used in Dandiya Raas. These songs praise Goddess Durga and seek her blessings. Apart from the traditional songs, there are also many new songs and music that is used by people to do these foot tapping dances.
The traditional costumes that are worn by men and women while performing this dance, is very colorful and bright. The sticks that are used in this dance are made from bamboo and they make a rhythmic sound when clicked against each other. These are held in both the hands and clicked to produce a sound of music.
The sticks can be clicked either on your own or you can choose to do it with your partner. If you are part of a large group of dancers, you will be clicking the sticks against all the members of the group. Although the circular movement of the dance looks easy to perform, it will take a bit of practice to get used to the rhythm and beat of the sticks.
There are usually two circles that perform the Dandiya Raas. While one circle of dancers will move in a clock wise direction the other will move in an anti clock wise direction. People dance to the music which is mostly performed live on stage. There is usually a drummer accompanying a large group and he/she controls the entire rhythm of the dance.
This adds to the appeal of this beautiful dance. Its popularity is not just restricted to Gujarat but all over India. Millions of people celebrate Navratri each year by dancing to the rhythm of Dandiya Raas. As the dancers swirl and move around in their colorful dresses it is joy to watch. You will be totally mesmerized by this wonderful art form.
Nowadays there are many schools that teach both men and women the best way to perform Dandiya Raas. It is a very energetic form of dancing and people are known to experience a spiritual awakening while performing this dance.
People who have experience in performing this dance form are also able to do many tricks using the sticks that are used while dancing. Some of the amazing tricks involve throwing the sticks in the air and catching them in mid air. This requires a lot of practice and cannot be done easily.
Most areas where the Dandiya Raas is organized also conduct special competitions where individuals, couples and groups are judged based on their dance skills.