The nine-day festival of Navratri has always been celebrated with great passion and zeal all around the country. With the COVID-19 restrictions finally easing, Navratri celebrations are in full swing in many regions of the country with gatherings being organised in communities — small and large — especially in the Northern part of India.
The highlight of these gatherings is, of course, the dance and music all attendees indulge in. In their devotion to Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations, the devotees dance and sing to tunes dedicated to them all night long. And if you’re acquainted with these Navratri assemblies, you ought to know that dandiya raas makes up a substantial part of it too!
Raas or Dandiya raas, originating in the western part of the country in Gujarat, is an elaborate dance form performed in groups in socio-communal gatherings. While dandiya is part of many celebrations in the Gujarati communities, the dance has now become synonymous with the Navratri festival not only in the state but in several regions of the country. However, this is due to a deeper rationale that people seldom realise.
Dandiya is inferred to be a dramatized re-creation of the nine-day battle that took place between Goddess Durga and demon Mahishasura. On the verge of the nine days, Goddess Durga emerged victorious and so good triumphed over evil. The bamboo sticks used during the dance are also a representation of the sword that Goddess Durga used to slay the demons. This is why Dandiya is also called the ‘Sword Dance’.
Despite the mythological significance of the dance, it is now seen as a recreational activity for many where people come together to let go of their distress and anxieties and spend time with their loved ones.
Here are the 10 best places to celebrate a Dandiya night in India:
With Gujarat being the heart of the Navratri festival, the celebration of it occurs with much fanfare in the city of Surat. The Shankus Dandiya organised by many community groups in the city is famous all over the country for its elegant decorations and mind-blowing music. If you’re lucky, you might also get to see Bollywood celebrities attending these Dandiya nights!
With a considerable Gujarati population, Mumbai doesn’t shy away from throwing the most lavish and extravaganza.
Known for its enormous Durga Puja celebrations, Kolkata celebrates Navratri quite differently from the rest of the country. That does not imply there are no raas dandiya nights celebrated here, though. Usually organised during the latter half of the Navratri festival, dandiya performances here are as unique and local to the culture as the rest of the festival.
Dandiya nights are organised in Jaipur with much fervour but these nights don’t just include dancing! The night comes as a full-fledged cultural experience of regional Rajasthani food, traditional games, ethnic dress code, and a DJ playlist with booming tabla and dholak beats to move to. As a tourist, one is ought to attend a dandiya night in Jaipur to fully immerse themselves in the colours of the occasion.
Being the biggest city in Gujarat, the home to raas dandiya, it is inevitable that the dandiya nights organised in the city are also grand and brimming with entertainment and leisure. Dandiya here is often played until the early hours of the day across the nine days of Navratri and has over the years evolved into an event to attend with your entire family! YMCA club has become the fan-favourite destination for dandiya performances in the entire town!
An amalgamation of diverse cultures and communities makes Delhi a hotspot during any festival. Over the years, the city has forged its own set of traditions and customs unique to it and Navratri is no different. Dandiya nights here are celebrated more like music festivals, with pounding DJ beats and vibrant light shows all night long! Hence why they also amass large crowds of youngsters looking to have fun every year.
Bangalore is typically not known for its festival celebration. The IT capital of the country seldom indulges in impressive festivities and Navratri, therefore, is also a quiet affair. But the paradigm transitions at night when city dwellers are free from the gruelling days of work. Dandiya nights become the soul of the nightlife in the city during this season. Ranging from traditional raas dandiya to neon club nights, in Bangalore, you’re bound to find an event suited to all your whims.
Frequently referred to as the royal capital of the country, the dandiya nights in Udaipur are organised with all the extravagance worthy of a glorious royal celebration. With provincial folk music, extensively ornate dance halls, ancestral dandiya costumes, and a colourful experience to remember for life, everyone should attend a dandiya night in Udaipur to make the most out of the festival of Navratri.
The hub of disco dandiya in the country, Hyderabad is famous for its loud dandiya parties illuminated with pulsing strobe lights, vibrant decorations, and often the tastiest delicacies present for those not fasting during Navratri. Though much of the shows held here are privately organised, and sometimes expensive, the flamboyant nature of the nights more than makes up for it!
For the ultimate raas dandiya experience, one ought to attend a dandiya party in Vadodara. Another city in Gujarat, the heart of dandiya celebrations, Vadodara is recognized for its inclusive community gatherings and people from around the world come every year to become a part of it. An opportunity to interact with eclectic cultures and ethnicities, dandiya nights in Vadodara are worth looking forward to every year.