Garba 2019 spreads colors, happiness at Goldstein Auditorium

Garba 2019 spreads colors and happiness at Goldstein Auditorium

Syracuse University’s South Asian Student Association and Hindu Student Association organized the colorful Indian folk dance.
Published: October 3, 2019 | Updated: October 11th, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Syracuse University’s Goldstein Auditorium filled with vibrant colors and hundreds of brightly-dressed folks, dancing in chorus celebrating the start of the Indian festival Navratri the evening of September 28.

Navratri, which translates to “nine nights,” is one of the many Indian festivals which is celebrated and honored by performing Garba Raas around Durga, the Hindu goddess of war. As the name suggests, Navratri is a nine-day festival. The Garba Raas dance is performed in circles around a statue of Durga or around a clay lantern kept in the middle. Another folklore attributes the celebration to Lord Ram’s victory over the demon king Raavana.

This year, SU’s Hindu Student Association got the ball rolling in Goldstein on Saturday evening by offering prayers, singing aarti and worshiping the idol of Goddess Durga. Minutes later, Garba started and the auditorium was transformed into a bustling dancing ground. Singers Pragya Panchal and Dhaval Kamdar drove from New Jersey to get dancers grooving to the live songs, as it happens in any traditional Garba in India.

“I just moved to Syracuse a couple of months ago and it is so good to meet people from India,” said Vasundhara Patil, dressed in traditional Indian clothes. “It feels close to home, festivals are the time when you miss your family and friends the most.”

Like Patil, many in the crowd said they missed their close ones during festivals and coming together for any small gathering similar to Garba is a way to remember them.

“So far we celebrate the Hindu Festivals like Diwali, Holi and Garba but I am planning to change that, add more to it,” said Abhinav Yadava, president of the South Asian Student Association. “Growing up in Chicago, I had no Indian friends. I want to meet more diverse people and that made me join SASA.”

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SASA is a student organization that represents Asian communities and brings multicultural events to SU. HSA is a new organization that started last year and works with SASA on religious events, Yadava said in a tête-à-tête while the song played in the background and people danced. 

Going backstage to adjust the lighting for better pictures, SASA Vice President Prabhajan Balakrishnan makes sure he does his part to help the event succeed. 

 “It was a long process — the whole event is funded by SASA and we had to apply for funding,” Balakrishnan said. “We found [Pragya and Dhaval] who were willing to work within our budget — they turned out to be amazing performers and everyone seemed to enjoy the songs.” 

SASA’s next includes a Diwali party during the last week of October. Yadava said the organization process for Diwali is slightly more complicated, but they expect a great turnout.

Produced by Utkarsha Laharia
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is an architect and an arts journalist.