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Utah Hindus prepare for Navratri Garba celebration

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

Utah Hindus will celebrate Navratri Garba Friday and Sunday at the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah in South Jordan.

Courtesy of Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple

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SOUTH JORDAN — Navratri Garba, one of the most important celebrations on the Hindu calendar, will be observed by Utah Hindus with special rites Friday and Sunday at the Sri Ganesha Temple.

The nine-day Navaratri festival actually began Oct. 15. According to Lavina Melwami, a freelance writer based in New York, “Navratri is a celebration of the female cosmic energy that makes it possible for humankind to continue.”

“It marks the victory of the Warrior Goddess Durga over the Buffalo Demon Mahisa, whom she fought for nine days and vanquished on the 10th,” Melwami wrote in an article on the belief.net website. “So (it) is a celebration of women’s power.”

Vidya Anand of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple said the Utah celebration of the festival will feature a Navratri Garba observance on Friday and a Chandi Havan worship service on Sunday.

The Friday event will begin with a special Navratri Puja (or offering) and Aarti (a religious ritual involving light) at 6:30 p.m., followed by a light dinner at 7 p.m. The rest of the evening will feature two ancient village folk dances, Garba and Dandiya Raas.

The dancing involves the entire community, Anand said, and usually extends “late into the night.”

Garba is a dance for a circle of women featuring singing, rhythmic clapping and intricate hand movements.

“It’s a very meaningful ritual for women,” Melwami says, “because it honors the Goddess and also their own ability for creation.”

Garba, she continues, “is so much a part of religious ritual and social interaction that you see women of all ages, even the elderly, performing with joy and abandon, for they are celebrating the Goddess within them.”

Dandiya Raas, on the other hand, is for both men and women. It consists of two circles moving simultaneously, and it involves colorful wooden sticks. Melwami says Dandiya Raas was originally danced by “Lord Krishna, the Celestial Cowherd, with the Gopis or milkmaids.”

Sunday’s Chandi Havan is a special ritualistic worship service that includes special blessings for those who desire them. It begins Sunday at 5 p.m. at the temple.

The Sri Ganesha Temple is located at 1142 W. South Jordan Parkway in South Jordan.

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