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Of Interest

See archived entries

Indian community

Celebrating the battle of 9 nights and 10 days

On 1 October, Indians from the ITER community came together to celebrate an age-old Indian festival called Navaratri in the most dazzling way. They turned the bowling hall at the small town of Villeneuve into a lively room filled with lights, colours, and music and danced the evening away to a celebratory traditional Gujarati dance called Garba.

Joyful dancers around the Durga shrine, created by ITER families for the traditional Indian Navaratri festival. (Click to view larger version...)
Joyful dancers around the Durga shrine, created by ITER families for the traditional Indian Navaratri festival.
As with many Hindu festivals, the traditions originate in scripture and religion. Navaratri is a festival that celebrates the victory of the Indian goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura in an epic battle that lasted 9 nights and 10 days. The word Navaratri stems from Sanskrit, meaning nav (9) and ratri (nights), and the festival is observed by Indians all over the country and around the world, often adapted to their own cultural and family traditions.

Good wins out over evil, as Goddess Durga defeats Mahishasura. (Click to view larger version...)
Good wins out over evil, as Goddess Durga defeats Mahishasura.
For ITER families, a Garba evening was planned in Villeneuve by an events committee consisting of Indians that work as ITER Organization staff, ITER Project Associates, and Domestic Agency staff and that meet outside of their work hours to bond and create memorable events for their families living in France. In total, there are approximately 255 Indians currently working at ITER, counting all categories mentioned above.

The evening began with a musical yet humble aarti, which is a type of worship with lamps to the shrine of the Goddess Durga. With traditional Gujarati music playing, all the Indian men, women, grandparents and children present began to form a circle and, in unison, danced around the mini temple. Perhaps bewildering to an outsider is how more than 200 people seemed to know the same dance steps, but in fact the Garba steps can be followed by anyone motivated enough to learn!

The ITER Garba Committee with family: recreating legend and tradition for those far from home. (Click to view larger version...)
The ITER Garba Committee with family: recreating legend and tradition for those far from home.
When asked what his favorite part of Navaratri was, this 9 year old preferred another activity: "I love playing tag with my friends at Garba!" perfectly summing up how much children look forward to the festival organized by the Indian community.

Followed by flavorsome Indian food that was enjoyed outside the hall on the lawn, the families recouped their energy, only to continue dancing to different rhythms and songs again, in sync and into the night.

To see how the colors and lights captured the essence of Navaratri in France, you can view this YouTube link, courtesy of one of the Indian family members. (It is recommended to watch in 1080 HD Quality via settings.)



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