On Saturday, Oct. 13 from 8:30 p.m.to 1 a.m., the Adelbert Gym will be bustling with color and Indian music as the Undergraduate Indian Student Association (uISA) hosts its Navratri Garba event. This year, the University Program Board (UPB) will be co-sponsoring Garba. Admission will be free and open to everyone. In addition, free Indian food will be provided at the event
This event will have a short prayer ceremony called an “aarti” which will be followed by food, including samosas, chaat, and blessed foods. After that, there will be free dancing, which includes bhangra and American R&B and hip hop.
“I look forward to celebrating my culture and dances from everyone at Garba every year!” said uISA freshman representative Sapna Sundar said.
Garba is a folk dance done by the people in the northwest state of India called Gujarat. Over the recent years, Garba has become very similar to another dance called Dandiya Raas. Dandiya Raas is a slightly different dance that requires Dandiya sticks. Both are very high energy dances for which men and women dress up in brightly colored clothes. The clothes for both men and women are adorned extravagantly with sequins, beads, shells, starts, mirrors, and embroidery.
These dances are done during the nine day celebration of Navratri, which celebrates a Hindu goddess named Shakti and her nine forms. Traditionally, there is an elaborately decorated and lighted idol or picture of Goddess Shakti in the center that everyone dances around. Other times, there is simply a clay lantern with a light inside called a “Garbha Deep.” The lantern is said to represent life and a womb that celebrates the feminine form of divinity.
The dance is performed in a circle and is representative of time. The revolutions made by the dancers are said to signify the cyclical nature of time from birth to life to death to rebirth. The figure of the goddess in the middle signifies the fact that throughout all the cycles, the goddess is the only constant in the ever-changing world.
Most of the songs that are played are about a god named Lord Krishna or Shakti and her nine forms.
Garba is a tradition for many students on campus, including those who are not from Gujarat. In fact, throughout the country, the celebration of Garba has become very popular. Many universities, clubs, and schools have begun holding their own version of Garba, including CWRU.
“I’ve been part of Garba dances since I was seven years old, so I am really excited for Garba this year!” said freshman Rahul Chander.
Prior to Saturday, uISA will hold a Garba dance workshop on Oct. 9 to teach CWRU students how to dance for this particular event.
Freshman Manasi Shah said, “I look forward to Garba every year because it’s a chance to dress up and do something that I love and see friends that I don’t normally see a lot. I am also really excited because it’s something I did in high school that I can continue to do in college.”