x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Thousands take to the dance floor to mark Navratri festival

People in colourful clothes flock to special Hindu celebrations marking the goddess Durga's victory in a nine-day battle with a demon king.

Beat 16 perform during Navratri celebrations in Dubai.
Beat 16 perform during Navratri celebrations in Dubai.

DUBAI // Colours swirled and bamboo sticks swayed in time with the music as revellers danced through the night to celebrate the Indian festival of Navratri. Auditoriums, parks and clubs came alive as dusk fell on Thursday, with thousands of Indians taking part in events across the city. The occasion is the Hindu celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Navratri, meaning "nine days", marks the goddess Durga's victory in a nine-day battle with a demon king.

Worshippers honour the festival and its importance by wearing colourful costumes and performing the dandiya raas dance throughout the evening. Although the festival began last Saturday, most event organisers saved their programmes for this weekend in anticipation of larger turnouts. The Country Club Hotel in Dubai, which is putting on "the Great Indian Navratri Utsav 2009", a three-day event for families at Al Mamzar Park Amphitheatre, expressed surprise at the response. The organisers had expected 15,000 people over the three days and almost 10,000 came on the first night alone.

"The celebration lined up for the next two days is expected to draw in more enthusiasts to dance and celebrate with their family and friends," the hotel said in a statement. Family groups dressed in colourful, flowing robes arrived in large numbers at the amphitheatre on Thursday night and danced until 1.30am, organisers said. Most used bamboos sticks for the dance while others just watched and enjoyed the music.

Navratri is most popular in the west Indian state of Gujarat but is keenly observed right across the country. Large groups of men and women dance together into the small hours for the nine nights. The modern version of the celebrations, popular among expatriate Indians, uses contemporary disco music mixed with traditional tunes in what is known as "disco dandiya". Other events were held at Al Nasr Leisureland and Wonderland Park, where Dandiya 2009 was reported to have had a good turnout.

Other emirates also joined in the celebrations and a special family dandiya festival was organised at the Ajman Beach Hotel. All events featured several live performances by popular singers, dancers and DJs. pmenon@thenational.ae