Newark Ave: Nine Nights of Navratri

 

The holiday season is upon us! The Indian community in Jersey City every year organizes a special cultural program to carry forward their customs and traditions across generations on Newark Avenue. Thousands gather dressed in colorful dresses and tunics amidst joyful music playing. Though the festival has religious origins, people of all religions come together during Navratri to celebrate life.

EverythingJerseyCity.com content contributor, Shirley Davila (right) with friends

 

Jersey City Navratri 2019

Navratri is one of India’s most significant festivals. Navratri (Sanskrit: “nine nights”) is a festival celebrated by Hindus with great devotion for 10 days in which they worship their Goddess Durga. People stay awake the whole night during the nine days of Navratri and dance the night away. On the 10th day there is a celebration of Dussehra which signifies the victory of the Goddess Durga over the evil demon.  This festival is celebrated by all Hindus and has special significance in the Gujarati community. In Jersey City, they break up the festival over two weekends. 

Photo by: Shirley Davila

 

Dance the Night Away

Garba is a bright upbeat traditional folk dance that originated in the state of Gujurat in India. 

This dance is done during the Navratri festival along with others as well. The dancers celebrate Navratri by dancing the Garba dance in a circle making movements with their hands and feet around the statue of the Hindu Goddess Shakti . This circle portrays the circle of life, which moves from life to death to rebirth. Along with Garba, Dandiya Raas is another folk dance done during this and many other Hindu celebrations. You can recognize the change of dance when you see the vibrant coloured bamboo sticks being used. The dancers hold sticks in both their hands and strike them together on the beats of musical instruments.

Photo by: Shirley Davila

 

Dress to Impress

The most identifiable feature of the festival is its dress code! To celebrate Navratri, people wear traditional and colorful attire. Women wear the Lehengha or Chaniya Choli, a colorful three-piece dress, which is composed of a blouse, skirt, and a dupatta (the shawl-like scarf). Along with the traditional wear, women adorn themselves with stunning vibrant pieces of jewelry, which consists of earrings, bangles, and necklaces. Men usually wear a colorful top tunic and bottoms which are called kurta pyjamas. If you would like one of these outfits, stop by  Kanha Collections on Newark Avenue! 

Photo by: Shirley Davila

 

Bring the Beat

Garba music is primarily based on strong percussions with an upbeat rhythm. The percussion used are traditional Indian instruments called the dholak, dhol, and tabla. The lyrics accompanying the instruments play homage and prayers to the Goddess Durga. In the Jersey City Navratri, singer Jenny Shripali and her band play along a stage where thousands dance around her. 

Photo by: Shirley Davila

 

Save the Date

If you’ve missed this year’s festivities – feel free to check up on India Square for next year’s dates. The festival always takes place on Newark Avenue on two weekends in October!

Shirley Davila
Author: Shirley Davila

Shirley Davila is a freelance writer living in New Jersey originally from Lima, Peru. She is a travel junkie and food aficionado whose always looking for new things to try!