The Origins of Garba

"Garba" comes from the Sanskrit word garbha, meaning "womb."
Traditionally, the dance is performed by women in a circle around a clay lantern with a light inside, which symbolizes the body, within whom divinity (in the form of the Goddess) resides.

Garba is danced around this symbol to honor the fact that all humans have the divine energy of Devi within them. Now it's common to have images or statue (or a plush!) of Durga at the center of the circle.

Garba is performed in a circle, which represents the Hindu view of time. In Hinduism, time is cyclical.

As the cycle of time revolves, from birth to life to death to rebirth, the only thing that is constant is the Goddess, an unmoving symbol in the midst of all of this unending and infinite movement.

The Origins of Raas

Dandiya Raas is a type of a folk dance, which originated in Gujarat, India, and is performed during Navratri, the 9-day festival honoring Goddess Durga.

Dandiya symbolizes a mock fight between Durga Devi and Mahishasura where sticks of Dandiya represent the sword of Durga and is performed after the Garba.

Once upon a time,

There was a little boy named Mahishasur who was born to the king of demons and a buffalo, making him a powerful
part-buffalo part-demon.

He noticed that the demons and the Gods were always at odds with one and another. And he was tired of being on the losing side.

One day, he had an idea.

He said to his father.

Believing that strict fasting and praying can make a person strong, he set out to do just that, and stood on one foot, under a tree, praying to Lord Brahma for many years.

His penance finally paid off.

Lord Brahma appeared and asked Mahishasur to make
a wish.

He asked for immortality, but after being denied, he wished for what he thought was just as comparable:

"Fine, if I must die, please let it be at the hands of a woman," thinking he had cleverly found a loophole.

"Done!" said Lord Brahma, but little did he know of Mahishasur's true intentions with that kind of a power.

After wreaking havoc all around the earth, Mahishasur next set his eyes on Amravati, Indra's capital.
(Indra was the King of Gods).

One by one, each of the Gods and their weapons were defeated.
Vishnu's chakra.
Indra's thunderbolt.
All rendered powerless.

After being exiled from heaven, the Gods approached the trinity,
Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma for help.

Vishnu said, "Wait a minute... if only a woman can kill Mahishasur, then let's combine our powers to create an invincible woman. Duh."
Everything from her head to toes, and from her weapons and clothes, was gifted by each of the Gods.

Durga was born and ready for battle.

When Durga arrived at Amravati, Mahishasur acted like the mysogynistic jerk one would expect him to be.

"You're better off marrying me than trying to kill me," he purred. Mahishasur had finally met his match... but the kind that wanted to lock him up, moreso than lock him down.

After Durga declined his romantic proposal, Mahishasur went straight into fight mode.

He kept changing forms to confuse Durga; he went from being a man to a lion to an elephant, etc. This went on for nine nights, until he finally assumed the form of a buffalo, when he was ultimately defeated.

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Modi Toys is a children's brand of toys and books inspired by ancient Hindu culture. We exist to spread joy and to spark curiosity in the next generation through our innovative soft plush toys, illustrated children's books and free learning resources. Our weekly Theology Thursday series covers a wide range of topics rooted in Hinduism to help us better understand the origins of traditions, the symbolic meaning of rituals, and the stories behind Hindu holidays and festivals. The more we can understand "the why" behind this 4,000 year ancient religion, and make sense of it in this modern age, the greater we can appreciate and preserve our rich Hindu culture. While we take great care in thoroughly researching the information presented, we may occasionally get some things wrong. We encourage a healthy and open dialogue so we can learn together. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at to address any concerns. 


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