Among the several forms of Raas, the most popular one is "Dandiya Raas", which is performed during Navratri. In fact, it holds a significant place in Navratri celebrations. It is known for setting the festive mood. Dandiya Raas is the featured and most popular dance of Navratri evenings in Gujarat. The dance form is not just restricted to Gujarat. It is performed in many other states, during the festive season of Navratri. Dandiya Raas is performed in the honor of Goddess Durga. It is the dramatization of a mock fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura - the mighty demon-king. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Durga. Women normally perform it in a graceful and rhythmic manner in a circle as they rotate around the 'mandvi'.
Traditionally, Dandiya Raas is performed after aarti (ritual of worshipping the diety). Hence, Dandiya Rass is an important part of the merriment. The special characteristic of the dance is the colorful costume worn by the dancers and the colorful sticks carried by them. Both men and women love to be seen dressed in their best traditional attire. The women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas glittering with mirror work and heavy jewellery, while men look very attractive in their traditional colorful kedias. The dresses for the dance were stitched in until sometime back, when readymade outfits started appearing in the shops, especially for Dandiya Raas.
The colorful sticks, used as prop of Dandiya Raas, are usually made of bamboo. This is the reason why it is also known as 'stick dance'. The circular movements of Dandiya Raas to some extent are very complex, which can be done only with skill in the art form. The dancers strike the sticks with their partners and dance in circular motion, to the rhythm of the music played in the background. A large number of people are involved in Dandiya Raas and two circles are formed by the dancers.
Out of the two circles made to perform Dandiya Raas, one of the circles revolves clockwise, while the other revolves anti clockwise. The dance is a very lively, active and fast paced art form, thus leaving no scope for laziness. There is an instrumentalist, playing a 'meddale' drum, who accompanies the dancers. The person stands in the center of the two circles and leads the dancers with his beats. The dancers spin and move their feet and arms in a choreographed manner to the tune of the music, with lots of drum beats. Dandiya Raas in Navratri is a mesmerizing thing to watch as well as to participate in.