Navratri celebrations set for Oct. 1 at ALC

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The Chatham-Kent Hindu community is holding a celebration of Navratri on the weekend.

The celebration takes place in Chatham at Active Life Centre on Saturday starting at 7 p.m.

This is a traditional celebration dating back more than 10,000 years and one of the major festivals for Hindu.

Coun. Karen Kirkwood-Whyte and acting mayor Brock McGregor will be present to pass their greetings.

The C-K Hindu community is excited to celebrate Navratri here, organizers said. In the past, the community travelled to Windsor or to the Greater Toronto Area for the festive celebration.

This adds to the diversity of Chatham-Kent, organizers said, and the C-K Hindu community really feels connected and rooted here.

Navratri is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar, organizers said and is also a celebration of women’s power. It’s celebrated all over the world, typically falling between September and October during the Hindu month of Ashvin and lasts for nine days.

“Nav” means “nine” and “Ratri” means “nights.” This year, the festival starts on Sept. 26 and ends on Oct. 5.

People come together during Navratri to celebrate Durga, the mother goddess who carries lots of weapons in her arms. Durga is best known for killing an evil demon in a battle which lasted nine days and nights and that is why the festival lasts for nine days and nights as well.

During Navratri some families choose to fast, only having milk, water, fruit and nuts during the day, followed by a full meal after sunset. Some people only have water and a simple meal at night.

The celebrations also involve lots of dancing. There are two main types of dances to celebrate Navratri. The first is Garba, a traditional dance where you clap your hands whilst going around in a circle.

The other dance is called Raas. Worshippers use what are known as dandiya sticks, which are usually wooden, decorated with ribbon.

The sticks are hit together to the rhythm of the music.

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