BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — After a scaled-down celebration last year, people in the Indian community in Kern County got to gather and celebrate a special Hindu festival. Dancing, food, colors, festivities for the celebrations of the Indian Festival Navarathri.
“Celebration of Navarathri, as translated is nine nights of festival in which we celebrate the feminine energy. So, this is the celebration of goddesses,” said Komal Desai, Vice President of the Hindu Temple of Kern County.
The festival focuses on three goddesses Durga, the goddess of strength and power Lakshmi, is the goddess of wealth and values, and Saraswathi the goddess of knowledge and wisdom.
But India is a diverse country with many traditions and stories. So, in some cultures, Navarathri symbolizes a war in mythology becoming Lord Rama and the demon king Ravana and on the tenth day, called Dussehra, Rama wins, and goodness prevails and that’s the theme of the festival.
Another important part is the dancing. People dance in circles around the god, one of those dances is called Garba. With claps, spins, and twirls to traditional beats and music, it’s a way of praying to the gods and goddesses and seeking their blessings.
Another form of traditional Indian dance that people wear outfits like lehengas or chaniya cholis for and dance at the festival, is called Dandiya
“This festival is basically the reason that I am still connected with my culture. I consider it a huge part of my life and these 9 days are honestly the best nine days I will ever have,” said Nidhi Pandya, 9th grader at Stockdale High School
So, the Hindu Temple of Kern County hosted the nine-day celebration of the festival to bring the community together Pandya said having an occasion and place to celebrate like this helps her feel right at home.
“Even though this community isn’t the most diverse, it’s the most accepting that I’ve ever been in and it’s really nice to know that I’m a part of it,” said Pandya.
Desai said putting on an event like this is no easy feat, but it’s worth it to bring hope to the community.
“We have a lot of community effort that goes into it. This brings the whole community together,” said Desai. “Because to put this whole thing together is a lot of effort so we are very thankful that we have that community. After COVID, we were not sure, but we still, you know, people were very enthusiastic, and it brought everyone together.”
Cathy Dave said she has been celebrating the festival here for almost 30 years.
“This festival I don’t miss at all and even though it’s a religious festival and it’s the celebration of the nine goddesses, it’s also considered playtime because Hindus believe that religion should be every aspect of your life, including playtime, which is why I like it. I love to dance; I love this whole concept of playtime with God,” said Dave.
Attendees said this year’s celebration of the festival was about being thankful for what they have and the opportunity to celebrate together.
“It gave the opportunity for people to kind of get back to normal, come and do the things that they usually do, and I think slowly people are getting comfortable with coming out,” said Desai. “I think people forgot the art of dressing up and going anywhere. So, I think this way it seems like slowly people are getting into it. So, I think, that’s you know, slowly we learn to live life as before.”