Garba Night: A Hindu dance celebration

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For some of us, the holiday season is still several weeks away, but for others, that time of year is already here. At NJIT’s Garba Night, students danced the night away to traditional Indian dances as a way to celebrate the Hindu holiday season.

On Friday, October 18, 2013, South Asian students, and students of other ethnicities who were curious to learn more about the culture, filled the Ballroom as they danced along to the pounding Indian music. Girls were adorned in intricately beaded chaniya choli or gaghra choli, which are tightly fit midriff-baring blouses paired with embroidered skirts, usually with a dupatta scarf wrapped around them. Guys wore kurtas, or loose shirts falling just above the knee.

Savio Dsouza, who is studying for his masters in computer science, helped to bring Garba to NJIT. Garba, part of the tradition known as Navratri, is “a nine night celebration that leads up to Diwali, which is the day before the new year of the lunar calendar,” Dsouza said.

The festival is celebrated in India for nine days in a row, but in the United States, the festivities usually occur on weekends when people are done with school or work.

There were several types of dancing throughout the night. The first form was Garba, a dance that originated from the Indian state of Gujarat. Students danced in a circle around the picture of Durga, a form of the Goddess Shakti. After Garba was my personal favorite, Raas, which uses sticks (dandiyas) to symbolize Durga’s swords.

In between the Garba and the Raas was a ritual in which people prayed in front of a table filled with candles, incense, sweets that were used as offerings, and the picture of Durga.

Freshman Aesha Shah, a biochemistry major, greatly enjoyed her night. “It was an excellent embodiment of the Indian spirit and a very culturally enlightening experience!” Shah said.

Garba and all other Indian events that occur on campus are open to all students, regardless of where you’re from. I’m not Indian, but I love being exposed to and learning about other cultures. If you want to find out for yourself just how much fun these celebrations are all about, make sure to check out Diwali Night on Friday, November 1.

Briana Mancenido

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