Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 13:25 UK

Hundreds to join Hindu festival

A Navratri celebration
People come together to dance during the celebration

Up to 400 men, women and children are to celebrate a major Hindu festival in Berkshire this weekend.

The Navratri celebration, in Reading, will see hundreds of people dressed in traditional costumes take part in folk and stick dancing.

The tradition is for everyone to dance quickly in a circle in a trance-like state.

Navratri means "nine nights" and is one of the most celebrated festivals in the Hindu calendar.

'Whirling uninhibited'

The festival's legends are all related to Goddess Shakti, the Hindu mother goddess.

The event, at the Academy Sport and Leisure Centre, is organised by voluntary group Gujarat Samaj and will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The group caters for the needs of the Gujarati people, who were originally from western India and later from Uganda and East Africa.

"It is a time for even the most traditional and housebound women to be out of the house and whirling, uninhibited, towards the divinity that hides within her own body," said a spokesperson for the Reading Council for Racial Equality, to which the group is affiliated.

"Many of the songs begin slow and gradually speed up, sending the dancers into a trance, especially when the music and dance is in its rawest form."



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