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All-night dancing at Indian festival

Indians prepare for a final weekend of dance and celebration that will wrap up a nine-day festival marking the goddess Durga's victory in battle over a demon king.

DUBAI // Indians are preparing for a final weekend of dance and celebration that will wrap up a nine-day festival marking the goddess Durga's victory in battle over a demon king. Navratri, or nine, is a Hindu event traditionally observed by worshippers wearing colourful costumes, taking up bamboo sticks and dancing through the night.

The festival is most popular in the West Indian state of Gujarat, but is also keenly followed across the country. The modern version of the celebration, which is popular among expatriate Indians, incorporates traditional music with contemporary disco in what is known as Disco Dandiya. Large groups of Indian men and women dance through the night for the nine days. Although Navratri began on Saturday, much of the large Indian population in Dubai has been waiting until this weekend to celebrate. Several events will be held at parks, amphitheatres and clubs.

The Country Club Hotel in Dubai is organising The Great Indian Navratri Utsav 2009, a three-day event at the Al Mamzar Park Amphitheatre starting today. Organisers said yesterday that they expected to attract 20,000 people over the three days, after drawing about 15,000 last year. "The festival promises to be a great show, all about glitz, glamour, song and dance for three consecutive festive days," said Mr Rajeev Reddy, chairman and managing director of the Country Club group.

The Bollywood actress Arati Chabbria and other Indian celebrities are expected to attend. A similar event is being organised at Wonderland Park, where Dandiya 2009 will feature several performances by popular singers, dancers and DJs. There will be other celebrations on a smaller scale in some of the Indian clubs and associations. Indians have been busy shopping in Bur Dubai's Meena Bazaar for this weekend's festivities.

"We will be attending at least one of the Dandiya nights," said Shetal Gajjar, an accountant from Gujarat who now lives in Dubai. "We really miss India and our families back home on these nine days but at least we get to enjoy the festival in Dubai." A regular dancer at Dandiya nights in India, she will be celebrating in Dubai for the first time. "I hope it is as much fun as India," she said. pmenon@thenational.ae

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