Read this Navratri Garba Guide before visiting Gujarat

Navratri Garba Guide on how to best enjoy the festival in the state

As Navratri comes to an end, so does the colourful, dazzling lights and the sounds of Garba clapping and dhol. However, Navratri is a precursor to the festive season in India because just after Navratri, we have other festivals like Eid, Diwali, Bhaidoj, Govardhan, Christmas etc. A celebration of nine nights, it is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals in the Indian subcontinent and is dedicated to honouring the Goddess Durga or Maa Shakti who symbolises power and purity. When you think of Navratri, the vibrant images of Garba and Dandiya dance conjure up. However, this festival isn’t limited to vibrant Gujarat. India’s unity in diversity is best reflected through the celebration of nine nights. 

How Navratri is celebrated in India

From
Garba dance to Durga Puja rituals, the festival of Navratri is celebrated in
different ways across India, representing diverse traditions, customs and
flavours of each region. Still, the overarching theme of Navratri remains the
same – victory of evil over good. The festival is also a primary crop season
cultural event.

Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja in the eastern and north-eastern part of India
Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja in the eastern and north-eastern part of India

In
the east and north-east of India, Navratri is celebrated as Durga Puja,
signifying the victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura. In the North,
Navratri is synonymous with ‘Ram Leela’ performances and the burning of
effigies of Ravana, showing Lord Ram’s victory over Ravana. The final day of
Navratri in North India is called Dussehra and in the East, Vijay Dashami. In
the south, the festival celebrates the victory of different goddesses, of Rama
or Saraswati. 

In the North, Navratri is synonymous with Lord Ram’s victory over Ravana
In the North, Navratri is synonymous with Lord Ram’s victory over Ravana

Navratri Celebration in Gujarat

While the whole of India celebrates Navratri but nothing beats the fervour and grandeur of Gujarat during the nine-day celebrations. One of the favourite festivals of Gujaratis, it tick-marks both the boxes – devotion and entertainment. As the festival starts, nine days fasting and worshipping Maa Shakti is observed during the day. In the evening, an earthen pot called “Garbhi” is lighted; and women dance in a circle and perform arti around it. The lighting of the earthen pot and moving in a circle signifies fertility and life cycle. As the night befalls, both men and women enjoy the Garba and Dandiya Raas, wearing their best traditional dresses. Experiencing Gujarat during the Navratri festival is one of the most colourful encounters one can ever have; it can bring anything to life.

What happens during Navratri in Gujarat: Garba is played, not danced.
What happens during Navratri in Gujarat: Garba is played, not danced.

If
you are planning to visit Gujarat, here is your complete Navratri Garba
Guide: 

Best places for Garba and Dandiya in Gujarat

United Way Garba, Vadodara: 

Begin your journey from the cultural capital of Gujarat, Vadodara. There can’t be a better venue than the United Way of Garba, which is one of the renowned Ras Garba events in the country. Over 30,000 people revel in Garba celebrations every night for nine nights. The cheerfulness of the crowd at this event is so contagious and wide-spread that even the most famous celebrities cannot resist.

Navratri Garba Guide: United Way Garba, Vadodara is the best place to play Garba
Navratri Garba Guide: United Way Garba, Vadodara is the best place to play Garba

Besides the merrymaking and following the traditions, the event has a social side too. The event donates the collected money to 140 charitable organisations around the state. From good food to dance competitions, the venue is a one-stop destination for dance, dine and everything in between. For safety and to avoid unsolicited elements, the organisation has kept an entrance fee of 3500/male and 700/female for nine nights. Anyone from 12 years old to over 80 years is welcomed here. 

Navratri Garba Guide: Anyone from 12 years old to over 80 years is welcomed
Navratri Garba Guide: Anyone from 12 years old to over 80 years is welcomed 

Other venues in Vadodra: Head to Fine arts Faculty Garba ground where they create the authentic Garba of ancient Gujarat. Another option is visiting the Maa Shakti Garba for groovy music, amazing playlist, mesmerising ambience, and euphoria. The MS University for its laid-back environs and a signature “no taali” (no clapping) garba. Young parents with kids would love Shishu Sanskrutik Garba.

GMDC, Ahmedabad: Not far behind is Ahmedabad that attracts a huge crowd and many celebrities, who dance their heart out on the tunes of folk music perfectly matched with modern-day songs. A must-attend event in Ahmedabad during this time is the Vibrant Gujarat Navaratri festival organised at the GMDC Ground every year by Gujarat Tourism. The entry here is free.

Navratri Garba Guide: Play garba at the GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad
Navratri Garba Guide: Play garba at the GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad
Navratri Garba Guide: attend the Vibrant Gujarat Navaratri festival at the GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad
Navratri Garba Guide: attend the Vibrant Gujarat Navaratri festival at the GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad

Other venues in Ahmedabad: Unlike the usual nine-day celebrations, the celebration in the Friends Garba only last for the last two days but those two days are filled with modern funky Garba music, making it the ‘it’ place for the youngsters. Other local clubs you could visit are Rajpath, Karnavati, YMCA and Gulmohar Greens.

Other destinations And, if you are looking for more destinations then go to Somnath, Rajkot or Surat.

The Navaratri Mahotsav at Somnath Mahadev Temple in Somnath is highly underrated. As soon as the evening prayers finish, the atmosphere of the place suddenly comes to life with bright, colourful lights everywhere, stalls serving mouth-watering authentic Gujarati food, and people dressed in traditional wear swaying to the tunes of folk songs.

Surat, the city renowned for several nicknames such as “diamond city,” textile city,” silk city,” puts together a great show during Navratri. The best go-to venue is Surat international exhibition and convention center where celebs can be spotted quite often. 

In Rajkot, the events held by the Leo-Pioneer Group and Race Course Club are much-loved by not just locals and tourists, even celebrities. Exceptional quality singing and dancing can be seen here.

Tips for a successful Navratri

Navratri Garba Guide: stay hydrated and wear comfortable clothes
Navratri Garba Guide: stay hydrated and wear comfortable clothes
  1. Nonstop
    Garba and Dandiya dance can leave anyone breathless. Add to that, Gujarat’s hot
    and humid weather along with a large crowd present in the state during the
    festival. That’s a recipe of dehydration, right? But it can be avoided if you
    stay hydrated and carry a water bottle with you always.
  2. Catch
    up on your sleep as the Navratri celebrations usually last until midnight or
    beyond
  3. Festivals
    are incomplete without relishing the local dishes. Must-try delectable Gujarati
    dishes like Dhokla, Khandvi, Gathiya among others.
  4. Getting
    Garba passes, especially to famous venues like United Way Garba in Vadodra, is
    both challenging as well expensive. So, buy them well in advance to avoid
    last-minute hassles.
  5. Navratri
    celebrations are incomplete if you are not dressed up for the occasion. Most
    venues allow you only when you are dressed right – women in Ghagra Cholis and
    men in Kurta Pyjamas and Dhotis. So, do your shopping well in time and give
    comfort priority over style.

Shopping for the perfect Navratri look

Garba nights are not just about perfecting the elegant garba moves but
also dressing up in style. In fact, many people plan their different
traditional looks for all the nine nights. Even the venues promote dressing up
by hosting competitions for the best-dressed participants during these fests.
Therefore, shopping takes centre stage before the festival begins. Here are the
top markets for traditional Garba wear shopping.

Navratri Garba Guide: but traditional Garba outfit at Law Market, Ahmedabad
Navratri Garba Guide: but traditional Garba outfit at Law Market, Ahmedabad
  • Ahmedabad: Looking for a great looking dress at a
    great bargain? Head to the Law Garden market. Here in less than two thousand
    rupees, you can create your Graba-ready look. Don’t forget to buy the matching
    oxidised jewellery and other accessories to complete your look.
  • Vadodra: The bargain-hungry shoppers should head
    to the heritage corner of the city – Nava Bazar for women and Mangal Bazaar for
    men shopping. 

Must-try food experiences during Navratri

  • Manek Chowk, Ahmedabad: Don’t leave Ahmedabad without visiting
    this bustling city square set amidst historical buildings of the old city. In
    the morning, it is a vegetable market, a jewellery market in the noon and the
    street food market at night. Must-try food items are Pav-Bhaji, Mirchi Wada,
    Fresh Green Variyari, flavourful Tava Pulav and Fusion Foods like Amdavadi
    Special Sandwiches and Chinese Bhel. After the delicious savouries, satiate
    your sweet craving with Kulfi, Falooda and Ice-Creams or the Chocolate
    Sandwiches.
  • MG House: For an authentic and sumptuous
    Gujarati Thali experience in an old Haveli
  • Vishalla, Ahmedabad: For a rustic, homely Gujarati vibe,
    head to Vishalla where you’ll sit on the mud floors to relish the fresh and
    wholesome Gujarati staples like a digestive amla lemonade to classics like
    bajri na rotla.
  • Oshwal, Ahmedabad: Try its hot jalebis, delicious
    fafda and the papaya chutney they prepare in-house.
  • Shree Jagdish Farsan, Vadodara: For authentic Gujarati farsan (light
    snacks and tasty bites) – from khaman dhokla and gathiya to bhakarwadi and
    crispy sev, you will be spoiled for choice. 

I
hope this Navratri Garba Guide helps you plan a fun-filled trip to Gujarat
during its festive best.

Navratri Garba Guide: dance like nobody's watching.
Navratri Garba Guide: dance like nobody’s watching.

For
more details on how to best experience Navratri Garba at its best, check out
– What happens during Navratri in
Gujarat.

Inspired? Pin these to your Pinterest boards

Disclaimer

I was hosted by Gujarat Tourism. However, everything expressed above is based on my personal experience. Images used are either shot by me or provided by the destination. Please do not copy anything without written permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions metertrip © 2021