One-night stands are common during the nine-day of Navratri and Durga Pujo festival in Gujarat and West Bengal, with its all-night dancing. But couples fall in love and find their life partners as they groove on the traditional Gujarati tunes.
This September, love is in the air. When temperature takes a dip at night, and the evening cool breeze carries the melody of orchestra music. Traffic lights make way for floodlights at Navaratri mandalis and Durga Pujo Pandals and dance venues. Men and women, in their brightly-coloured traditional costumes, swirl their dandiya sticks to the kediyu’s spin.
Young people hang around and have all sorts of fun all night long – unsupervised and alone – results in blooming of all sorts of love stories, one-night stands, and reckless sexual encounters, childish romances. Media reports from Gujarat claim rise in the number of abortions after Navaratri. During the festive season, pharmacists stock up on contraception, hotel rooms are let out by the hour and dance venues have condom vending machines.
A couple of years ago, pharmacists in Gujarati cities claimed the rise in the sale of emergency contraception pills. In fact, NGOs and youth organisations target Navaratri venues to create awareness about HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and similar issues.
Twenty-year-old, who don’t want to be named for obvious reasons, says, “Well, I can’t deny what you say. Such things do happen. After dancing boys and girls check into hotels and do stuff,” he says. But he was quick to go on a defensive: “However that doesn’t give people the right to make fun of Gujarat or Navaratri.”
Butt of all jokes
Over the years Gujarat and Navaratri celebrations have got bad press. But 24-year-old who didn’t want to be named, said, “If young boys and girls meet, it’s obvious that things will happen. It is natural. Attraction is natural,” says the student at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
A freelance photographer, Sneha says that Navaratri isn’t an exception. “Such things happen during Ganpati festival in Mumbai, Durga Puja in West Bengal and even in nightclubs. It is not like Navaratri is a sex racket, as the media portrays it. Also, such things happen in some specific areas but there are tons of small community-type garba and dandiya nights, where something like this is unheard of,” Sneha says.
It would come as a shocker to many, but Navratri has eventually become an excuse for youngsters to get indulge into sexual activities. As per the reports and statistics of last many years, the sale of condoms and contraceptives increases by 20-30% in Gujarat during the period of Navratri.
It can be a shocker to for many, but Navratri has eventually become an excuse for youngsters to get indulge into sexual activities. As per the reports and statistics of last many years, the sale of condoms and contraceptives increases by 20-30% in Gujarat during the period of Navratri.
As per the doctors’ observation, the sexual activity touches its peak in the Navratri month. Female pregnancies and abortions are also an alarming trend in the city during the time.
“Pregnancies and abortions are rising, that has been the observation by doctors and gynaecologists over the last few years,” Mukul Choksey, Surat-based sexologist, was quoted by a leading daily.
Sensing the business opportunity, the condom companies also come up with attractive offers to lure the customers in Navratri. Moreover, the women, in a break from traditional norms, are also seen buying branded contraceptives from the shops without any hesitation.
The NGOs also put up their stalls at the festival venues and hand out the condoms to the people coming there. It is seen as an effort to create awareness about HIV and promoting safe sex among the young boys & girls but in reality, it only gives the boost to the sexual practice.