On Wednesday, November 6, NJIT students from all different backgrounds danced until midnight to traditional Hindu music. The occasion? Garba Night.
NJIT’s second Garba of the year was hosted this time by the Association of Indian Students and Delta Epsilon Psi. Freshman Aesha Shah, a biochemistry major, attended both the October Garba and the most recent one. “Overall, there was definitely more enthusiasm and more participation tonight,” said Shah.
The Ballroom was filled with students not only of South Asian descent, but also with other students who were curious to discover what Garba is all about. One of these students was Andrew Firriolo, a freshman computer science and math major. “I really enjoyed the cultural experience,” said Firriolo.
Another student who attended Garba for the first time was freshman Robert Cuber, a math major. “It was really cool!” Cuber said.
Almost everyone in attendance adorned traditional Indian garb. Girls wore “Chaniya choli”, or “Gaghra choli”, which are intricately beaded and 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.
The nine day Indian festival has actually been over for several weeks, especially since Diwali, the Indian new year, already passed, but it was obvious that NJIT students couldn’t turn down celebrating one last time.
The dance floor was never empty for the entire night; despite the heat, students danced barefoot to several types of dance. Experienced dancers led the way, while others followed along and eventually caught on.
Cuber was one of the few to sit out for the dancing. “I liked watching the people dance,” Cuber said. “That was my favorite part.”
Firriolo, however, took part in the festivities. “I got to learn a lot of new dances, even though I stunk at them!” he laughed.
The first form was Garba, a dance that originated from the Indian state of Gujarat. Students danced in a circle to music that rapidly sped up as the night progressed and the energy level rose.
Afterwards was Raas, which uses sticks or “dandiyas” to symbolize Durga’s swords. The dance is performed in two lines, with everyone rotating partners after each round. Raas was one of the highlights of the night for many of the students. When asked what his favorite part of Garba was, Firriolo replied, “The stick dance!”
Shah agreed with him. “I personally enjoyed the Raas, which is lively, engaging, and enthusiastic,” Shah said.
Of course, the night would not have been complete without delicious Indian food. Selections included “bhaji pav” which is Indian chili made of potatoes, peas, and various spices, “kachori”, a Gujarati stuffed, fried dish, and cashew, ricotta cheese, and flour-based sweets. “The food was new and unique, and it had a special spiciness to it,” Cuber said.
By the end of the night, students were thirsty and suffered from sore feet, but it was all worth it in the end. Shah couldn’t have said it better: “It was like transporting myself back to India. It was possibly one of the best Garbas I’ve ever been to.”
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