(Last Updated on : 20/03/2013)
The state of Gujarat offers the tourists a golden opportunity to explore the beauty of the culture and tradition of the western part of the Indian subcontinent. Festivals form an integral part of the Gujarati culture. The wide plethora of colorful festivals takes one on a multihued and ennobling odyssey of the glorious state of Gujarat. This state prefers to celebrate all the religious festivals with equal amount of pomp and grandeur. But the quintessential Gujarati spirit and rhythm is to be found in all the festivals. People of all hues, shades and denominations venture outside their homes to immerse themselves completely in the festive spirit.
The celebration of Navaratri in Gujarat is universally believed to be the celebration of good over evil and the restoration of the general order of things. Navaratri, the `festival of nine nights` is celebrated in the state of Gujarat after Dussehra. This festival forms a special feature of Gujarat and during this auspicious occasion both males and females assemble in the squares and temples of their individual villages and indulges themselves in complete merriment. `Garba` is a special feature if the Navaratri festival in this state. The festival comes to an end on the day of Dussehra when the artisans worship their instruments, the peasants worship their ploughs, students worship their books and warriors worship their weapons.
The festival of Diwali in Gujarat is associated with the worship of the "Goddess of Wealth`, Mother Lakshmi. The people of this state are of the firm belief that Goddess Lakshmi emerges on this day to bless the world with success and good fortune. It is also believed by the Gujaratis that the Goddess visits the homes, which are well lit so they delightfully take the initiative to decorate their houses with light, flowers and paper chains. The congregation of both men and women in the markets of Gujarat bears testimony to the fact that people are engulfed in the spirit of the festive celebrations.
This is regarded as a national festival in the state of Gujarat and is observed on the 14th of January, exactly on the day when the Sun enters the tropic of cancer. On this very day the youth as well as the matured are on the top of their individual houses flying kites. Both the male and female members of the family adorn themselves in colorful outfits and indulge themselves in the traditional dance known as `Dandiya`. Sumptuous Gujarati delicacies are also prepared to celebrate the festival.
The spring festival of Holi celebrated in Gujarat in the month of Phalgun or in the months of February/March according to the English calendar seems to have a universal appeal. The festival of Holi assumes an entirely new color in the state of Gujarat and hence the people of the state reverberate with the chants of the folk-song, "Govinda ala re, zara matki sambhal Brijbala". Fun and frolic is also redefined in various forms in the festive celebrations here. People greet each other with colors and thus enhance the feeling of harmony due to which happiness prevails. The tradition of breaking pots is celebrated with much gusto here. It is an extreme pleasure watching the human pyramid breaking the pot of buttermilk high up in the street. The lighting of bonfire also forms a special feature of the Holi celebrations in Gujarat.
The principal shrine of Goddess Ambaji in Gujarat and its origins have long been lost. In fact Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festivals of the year. During this festival the peasants go to the temple and celebrate all these four festivals with darshan, ohm havan and community performances of the traditional Garba dances. The devotees from all over the state come to the Ambaji Mandir and attend the readings of the Saptashati, the seven hundred years old verses written in the honour of the Goddess and also visit the temple for an auspicious view of hers. A big fair is also held during the celebration of this festival.
The widely popular festival Rath Yatra, also known as the `Chariot Festival` is celebrated in the state of Gujarat in the months of June/July. A big procession is taken out from the Jagannath temple of Ahmedabad to mark the chariot journey of Lord Krishna into the city. When the chariot carrying the idols of Jagannath also believed to be the incarnation Lord Krishna, Lord Balaram and Goddess Subhadra are taken out amidst much pomp and show, verses and hymns are chanted in the honor of the Lords. The deities are adorned with colorful attires and ornamented with garlands. The commencement of the procession takes place from the Jagdish mandir situated in the Jamalpur region of Ahmedabad city.
The birth anniversary of Lord Krishna is celebrated in the state of Gujarat along with India with great fervor. It is celebrated in the state in the month of July/August according to the English calendar. On this day the Hindu people of Gujarat keeps daylong fasts and also keeps themselves awake while chanting hymns and verses in the honor of the Lord till midnight. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed and then placed on a swing. Rasila is performed to recreate incidents from the life of the Lord and to immortalize his love for his beloved, Radha.
This is one of the most popular festivals of Gujarat. It is observed in the honor of Lord Ganesh who is believed to be the remover of all obstacles. This festival is celebrated with impressive processions taken out carrying huge idols of Lord Ganesh adorned in colorful outfits and embellished with precious jewels.
This is the most popular Muslim festival celebrated in the state of Gujarat with much ardor. The major highlight of this festival is the Tazia procession, which has been in the city of Ahmedabad of Gujarat for centuries and include drummers, acrobats and singers. The historic significance of this festival lies in the fact that the Mughal monarch Jahangir and his beloved wife Noor Jahan often watched it from the `teen darwaza` or triple arches. This festival also reflects the true secular spirit of the state.
Modhera Dance Festival
This dance festival is celebrated at the Sun Temple of Modhera, which lies about 60 kilometers south west of the Ahmedabad city. It is held in the month of January every year and is celebrated for a span of three days. This festival is held in honor of the Indian classical dance and is considered unique as compared to other dance festivals in the Indian subcontinent.
The tourism authorities of Gujarat organize this festival every year in the month of February according to the English calendar. This popular festival not only features folk dancing, poetry, music, ballads, regional handicrafts and jewelry but also brings the people from all over the state, to offer a whole fresh enunciation to the term "Communal Harmony".