Fall is Festive
This time of the year is my favorite- not only for all the beautiful transformation of leaf colors and pumpkin spice lattes- but also for all the festivals happening in India and America alike. Being an Indian-American I get to celebrate festivals from both cultures. Right now in India, one of the largest festivals of the year known as Navratri, is being celebrated. A colorful fall festival honoring the Hindu goddess Parvati, Navratri (meaning 9 nights) is celebrated differently across various regions of India. Perhaps the most widely recognized form of celebration is the regional folk dance called Garba and Raas, collectively known as Raas-Garba.
Garba is akin to line dancing (except it is done in moving circles), where festival-goers dance in whirling synchrony, reveling in beautiful folk songs. Raas, a dance done while using colorful sticks called dandiya is usually set to songs about Lord Krishna (though a few Bollywood songs usually sneak in) and is a favorite for people of all ages. Popular throughout the world, Raas-Garba occupies a special place in our home for its great fun, great music, and a great reason to dress up!
So here's some more detail about my favorite part of Raas-Garba: the dress up! Due to the amount of dancing involved, it is ideal to wear an outfit that is flowy and free moving. Chaniya choli, also known as lehenga, is the most popular style of outfit for this occasion. Across India and America stores start prepping to sell the most colorful styles for the festivities.
Lehengas come in three parts: blouse, skirt, and dupatta (stole). All three parts come in different colors to add vibrancy to the outfit. Many lehengas for this season have a wider color palette with at least 2-3 colors and almost certainly an element of contrast. Popular colors for the occasion are usually bright- yellow, orange, purple, green, and red are frequently included. The skirt usually is very flowy, and flares outward to allow for greater movement during dancing. Those with threaded or mirror work are traditionally popular for the occasion. Cotton is generally the preferred material in India. However, autumn here in America can be downright cold. So this year, I opted for a velvet lehenga to add warmth while still keeping with the traditional, vibrant mix of colors. And while the material is heavy, the cut and taper of the fabric makes it easy to move in.
Selecting a Lehenga for Navratri can be very different than one for wedding or a different occasion. A lighter-weight material is ideal for dancing. Vibrant colors are the way to go for this beautiful festival.
Lehengas for other occasions can be in many different colors (anywhere from pastels to bright and bold) and styles that typically have different embroidery and embellishments. (Read Wedding Belle to see a different style).