It’s day 7 of the 9 day navaratri festival. Navaratri literally means 9 nights in Sanskrit. Nava meaning nine and Ratri meaning night. It is the only festival in India that is celebrated for over 9 days. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshiped. Navratri is festival every gujarati, why Gujarati every North Indian looks up to. People actually spend nights doing Garba and Dandiya Raas (A traditional dance form). This year, all the excitement of getting dressed traditionally, dancing with the crowd of over 1000 people all seem to have faded in Chennai.
Chennai this year does not have any big Pandals for people to go out and have fun. No police permission. Yes, the biggest reason for not having organized anything for the most awaited festivity has been the police. Due to bombings in most cities of India, Chennai Metropolitan police as a measure of safety has not permitted the gathering. The Police fear that Terrorists could use this opportunity to cause disturbances in the regular life of the ‘Safe’ Chennai crowd.
Events however are being organized in some places on a smaller scale, with very less crowd. The whole feeling of being awake till 4am in the morning, going to school, college or office in half sleep; Sleeping in the classrooms during free times, going back home thinking about the dress to wear the next night.. were all a part of the nine days( I should say night rather) of festive atmosphere.
The biggest organizer in the city made arrangements with good police security only for one night. The night saw the biggest ever crowd registered in the history of Navaratri for Chennai. I’m no good at statistics, but this crowd was larger than what we regularly saw! We play Garba/ Dandiya in circles, and this time we had to form 4 circles to accommodate the crowd.
I have been to a few cities in Gujarat, What happens in these places is no comparision to Chennai. It is pretty well organized here. People play in circles as one huge group, while in other cities u will see people playing on smaller groups, spread all over the ground. We organize Dandiya after Garba, while they play Garba or Dandiya at their will, some play garba, while the others dandiya. Our Garba starts at 11pm, ends at 4am. (The last night of Navaratri ends at 8am, with competitions for the grand prizes). Less Crowd, A/C Auditoriums and Always cool Chennai crowd make it the best and well organised Navaratri festival in India. I wonder how many will agree to that, But if u have been here and Played Garba with us, I’m sure the disagreement will disappear in no time.
All said and done, This time Chennai happens to be the most boring place on earth. The crowd that once formed a part of the festival’s night life now prefer staying at home and watching the live telecast of the festival organized in other cities of India. The crowds there are huge! We are only a maximum of 1000 People gathered at one place. Can’t the police provide some kind of protection?? Whatever the reason is, we are only enjoying this Navaratri saying at home watching people play on Television. Believe me, It’s no Fun! I’d rather watch a boring television serial than feel bad about having to stay home, during the only night outs that i have for the whole year!