I just love the fall season. Something about the weather makes it the perfect time to get out and celebrate life before you need to hunker down for the winter. That was the feeling I had when I was out last night with my friends from India – dancing my cares away in elaborate, colorful clothes and music celebrating the victory of good over evil. For those of you who haven’t experienced the life and energy at Navratri – you should definitely take the chance to do so this year.
As legend goes, Goddess Durga battled a demon Mahishasura for nine nights to help restore good in the world and she emerged victorious on the tenth day (Vijayadashami). Per the lunar calendar, the festival falls near the autumn equinox (September-October). The most well-known celebration during these days is Garba or Dandiya, practiced by the Gujarati community. They dance with live orchestras in circles that can range in sizes of 10 to 1000. The atmosphere is electric and the devotion of the people energizes the dancers to dance the night for each of the ten days.
That being said, did you know that there are so many more festivals of the night all around the world to light up your smiles.
Here are my top favorites so far. Of course, I am open to your suggestions – let me know if you think there are any others I should check out.
Up Helly Aa finds its roots back in 1880s since when it has been an annual event in the Shetlands. On the last Tuesday of January, the people of this town get together to celebrate their viking heritage. The day involves a series of processions and marches. At the end of the day, the all gather around the galley and set it on fire. The cold weather does nothing to deter the enthusiasm of the participants and onlookers. With plenty of warm liquids that crowds need to stay heated up, it is an amazing day with an awe inspiring finish that you will remember for years to come.
We all know about Dia de los Muertos or ‘The day of the dead’ that is celebrated on November 1st as a day to remember all those who have passed away.
But there is another interesting festival celebrated in Mexico- Noche de Brujas – ‘Night of the witches’.
People arrive in the magical town of Catemaco in Veracruz, Mexico to consult with local brujos (shamans) or purchase charms, trinkets or potions. It is the opportunity for people to cleanse their soul of negative energy from the last year.
The lantern or Spring lantern festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month on the Chinese calendar. It can find its origins almost 2000 years ago when Emperor Hanmingdi ordered all temples, households and royal palaces to light lanterns on the fifteenth day of the lunar month – similar to some monks who did the same to honor Buddha. It marks the return of spring and is a symbol of family reunion. Dragon dances, watching and lighting lanterns, lion dances are some of the fun ways in which people celebrate the day.
Set in the English county of Somerset, Glastonbury Tor holds special meaning for the Druid community. Legend has it that this is the burial place of King Arthur and is known as the most spiritual places in the country.
People call the Tor – Ynys yr Afalon (meaning “The Isle of Avalon”) and was considered the meeting place of the dead and the point where they passed on to another level of existence. On Midsummer’s Eve, people gather on the Tor to harness the energies of the Summer Solstice.
As Navi found out, around the world different cultures have festivals all over the year which depict the changing of the various seasons. We are actually more alike than we are different!
Signing off for another week while I enjoy my dance. See you next time with more adventures!