Colorful tradition takes Main Campus

The South Asian Student Society is holding its annual Navratri Garba celebration on Oct. 17.

At Navratri Garba, there are powerful sounds of Raas music, traditional Indian dancing, popular Indian food and vibrant colors.

Students can partake in a celebration of Navratri Garba, hosted by the South Asian Student Society, on Oct. 17.

“As one of Temple’s premiere multicultural organizations, everything that we do is focused on enriching the student body with the different cultures of South Asia,” said Abhinav Gabbeta, a senior biology major and president of the South Asian Student Society.

 The Garba Raas, a traditional dance originating from Gujarat in West India and Mumbai, is performed when celebrating Navratri Garba. Navratri refers to the nine nights during which the festival is typically celebrated.

 “Basically, those nine nights are supposed to be in Hinduism, where the goddess Durga fights and conquers evil,” said Janeni Nayagan, a junior biology major and public relations chair of the South Asian Student Society. “It’s also supposed to be reverent respect to the ultimate divine creative power, which is sort of the divine power and creativity.”

 The South Asian Student Society hosts at least two major events a year, normally one each semester. The student organization represents eight different countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

 “We represent all of those countries, but we are still open to all races,” Nayagan said. “Anyone can be a part of the organization – it just takes interest in the group and the festivals and holidays from the different countries.”

 Last year the society brought the Garba back to Temple for the first time in years. Gabbeta said the group has been working on the plans for this event since school started.

 “We will have a brief ritual, delicious food, colorful dresses, lively traditional music and of course lots and lots of interactive dancing,” Gabbeta said.

 The Navratri is celebrated in several different ways. Some perform the Garba, others set up Golu steps, or a small set of steps where religious idols are placed, and often families gather  to have huge dinners. Group members said it is one of the most important festival for many Hindus around the world.

 “This is an event I have been going to since I was little,” said Nirali Patel, a senior secondary education-mathematics major and secretary of the South Asian Student Society. “It was great fun, because you get to dress up and wear the fancy outfits and jewelry.”  

At meetings before the event, the South Asian Student Society will teach basic Garba moves for those who want to get a head start on the learning process before the Oct. 17 event. The courses are called “Teach me how to Garba.”

 “A lot of us don’t know how to do Garba Raas on our own, but we could pick it up instantly,” Nayagan said. “It’s very easy for anybody to pick up, really. You don’t have to be a good dancer to participate in a Garba.”

 Traditional food and drinks will be served. Frooti Mango juice, a popular drink in India, is on the menu. As for food, Samosa Ki Chaat, another well-known Indian item, will also be available.

 “It is a great social event to meet new people of different cultures coming together and just dancing all night long,” Patel said.

 The society is encouraging all members of the student body to try something new, members of South Asian Student Society said. They emphasized the fact that attendees don’t have to be from one of the eight countries they represent to participate in the festivities. All are welcome.

 “This year we plan to take it to the next level and establish Temple’s Garba as one of the best in the entire Philadelphia region,” Gabbeta said.

Julia Chiango can be reached at                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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