June 26, 2019 | 72° F

U., community dances night away at garba

Photo by Jovelle Abbey Tamayo |

School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Dimple Shah performs Friday to celebrate the Hindu festival, Navaratri.

Dressed in colorful, traditional Indian garments, members of the University and local communities danced in celebration of a Hindu holiday.

About 450 people filled the Livingston Recreation Center on Friday night for the Association of Indians at Rutgers annual three-hour-long Garba dance event, “Raas Ki Raat.”

“Garba is a dance that celebrates one of the greatest holidays in India and is an event where you can dance and have fun all night,” said Dhara Shah, AIR president.

Garba is a traditional Indian form of dance customarily performed during Navaratri, a Hindu festival celebrated for nine nights recognizing the triumph of good over evil.

During the dance, which was open to all nationalities, ages and experience level, participants twirled around the idol of the Indian goddess Amba in multiple concentric circles as sign of respect, said Reena Kadakia, AIR graphic designer.

After the traditional Garba dance, a second dance called “raas” takes place. Everyone holds a “dandiya,” or stick, and participants dance around a partner, said Shah, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

The event left a positive impression on some University students.

“It’s a great event, and it’s a nice way to see people in the Rutgers community come together for something,” said Maitri Patel, a School of Engineering junior.

Nidhi Radia, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, said she enjoyed her time at the event.

“Everyone is having fun and enjoying the festival,” Radia said. “It’s nice to know that we can have something fun and cultural like this on the Rutgers campus.”

Jay Tailor, a School of Engineering first-year student, said he looks forward to AIR’s celebration of garba each year.

“It only happens once a year, and it’s a great climate to be in with all these people in one place,” Tailor said.

Preparation was also put into getting the event to run smoothly before and after it started, Shah said.

“We’ve actually been planning this event since the summer since it incorporates heavy decoration, which we’ve rented out from a store in Edison,” Shah said. “We also had to contract a live band to play for us since the event requires the need for a band to play different sorts of music.”

With all the preparation put into the garba, AIR members were thrilled with the attendance at the event.

“The turnout was incredible and everything ran very smoothly,” said Kadakia, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

The organization also uses the event to help fund the AIR show, the organization’s premiere event.

The 28th AIR show, titled “Pehchaan: Dare to Define,” will take place Nov. 13 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. The event will bring South Asian groups, fraternities and sororities together to raise awareness for issues involving children in underprivileged parts of the world.

“It’s our biggest show, and we hope we can help raise awareness about the lack of shelter’s and education for children who live in less privileged parts of the world,” Shah said.

She said AIR participates in many cultural and community service events such as Scarlet Day of Service in which more than 100 AIR members participate.

“Along with South Asian fraternities and sororities, we are also trying to get people to register for our bone marrow drive at the event tonight,” Shah said.

AIR also promotes unity by trying to bring people from different walks of life together at the event, she said.

“One of our main goals for this event is to promote our goal of achieving unity at Rutgers,” Shah said.

By Richard Conte

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