The Herricks Indo-US Association hosted its annual Garba this year in the high school gym. Garba is an Indian cultural dance event that takes place during Navaratri, a nine day long holiday in honor of an Indian Goddess, Durga, who symbolizes strength and energy. Adults, teenagers, and children from Herricks and other places throughout Long Island attended this event.
Over time, the name coined for this event has been “Garba”. However, technically only the first part is Garba. This event actually consists of three parts. Garba is a dance performed in a circle around a statue of Durga. The Garba consists of many rings around the circle in the center, with the inner most rings being the most challenging. The second part is the Aarti or prayer, in which people gather around the center and sing. The third part is the Dandiya, when people dance with partners using colorful sticks.
During Garba, people get an opportunity to reunite with their friends and celebrate Navaratri. Deepika Pradeep (Syosset High School, ’13) stated, “I think Garba is a great way for Indians in Long Islandto get together and enjoy the Navaratri season. Personally, I find that it is also a way to make new friends. It’s a time for Indian families to relax and celebrate the festive season in the US.” The spirit of this event is not limited to Indians alone. People of all races attend this event as well. LeeAnn Serrano (’13), who attended her second Garba this year, stated, “Most school events that I have attended aren’t cultural, and this event allowed me to see a culture other than my own. I learned so much about Indian culture. I learned cultural dances, tried different food and saw authentic Indian clothing. I also learned that Indians party hard.”
Most girls and women dress lavishly to attend Garba. Sonia Joshi (JerichoHigh School, ’13) described the clothing and shared, “Most people wear ghagras which are long skirts that are usually very intricately embroidered or have a unique design or pattern. The top is also usually very extravagant along with the duputa, or scarf.” In response to the clothing seen at Garba, LeeAnn Serrano (’13) stated, “My first reaction to Garba was that all the Indian clothing that the women were wearing was so beautiful and colorful, and I wanted to dress like them. I pretty much saw all the colors of the rainbow at Garba. The outfits were beautiful and I’ve never seen anything like them.”
During Garba, many dancers become extremely involved, and start to push and shove people who come in their way. Meera Desai (’13) shared, “The Garba portion tends to get very competitive and, during the fast part, if you do not know how to keep up, people push you out of the way to continue dancing!”
Garba and Dandiya are two extremely different portions of the event, each consisting of its unique negative and positive aspects. Most people feel that the Garba is more diverse and difficult because many different dances occur simultaneously, whereas the Dandiya is easier. Therefore, some people prefer the Dandiya while others enjoy Garba more.
Sharon Shaji (’13) shared, “I like both portions very much equally, but I would prefer Garba. The experience is great. I have so much energy when I dance, and it releases all my stress.”
However, Sonia Joshi (JerichoHigh School, ’13) preferred the Dandiya saying, “I like the Dandiya portion better because you use sticks to go with the beat. Most people know how to do Dandiya, whereas not as many are good at Garba. Additionally, people don’t step on my feet when I do Dandiya, or say rude things to me, such as, ‘Move!’”
Many students have been attending Garba since elementary school, whereas some have recently started to attend this event. Garba takes place during different weekends every year in accordance with Navaratri on the Indian calendar. Nonetheless, many people attend this event annually for the unique experience. Despite the few negative aspects of Garba, the general consensus is that Garba is a fun and energetic event, and because of this people continue to participate enthusiastically year after year.