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Glitter and Gold
on the Ballroom Floor



 Dancing Dandiya Rass at HSC's Garba 2017.  Photo by A Natarajan, AA E-Zine.





by Aaradhana Natarajan
October 2017

If you were passing through the Student Activity Center on the evening of October 6th you likely heard Bollywood music thundering from the ballroom, along with the sound of hundreds of dancing feet. It was the Hindu Student Council's annual Garba celebration.

Typically performed during the Navaratri festival, Garba as a dance form hails from the Indian state of Gujarat. Dancers don brightly-colored, mirror-studded fabrics and take to the temples and streets to celebrate the goddess Shakti.

The Sanskrit word "Navaratri" (
नवरात्रि) translates to "nine nights", and the celebration occurs sometime between late September and early October. Traditionally, it is celebrated with copious quantities of prayer, dancing and food.


The Stony Brook celebration began with an aarti, cleverly circumlocuting the ban on actual candles, the thali held a handful of tea lights and flowers. Students took turns offering a prayer to one of Shakti's many incarnations, the goddess Durga. It was beautiful, with all the solemnity and spirit of a traditional temple puja. After the last pair of students had said their prayers, the table was moved from the dance floor.


Then the music began.

Students began to trickle onto the dance floor, more by the moment, until the floor was awash in a riotous whirl of colors. People were dressed in lovely lehengas, cholis and kurtas, each covered in detailed metallic embroidery and rhinestones.

The air was suffused with sweat and samosas. With music from megahits such as Om Shanti Om providing the backing track, it was like a slice of India set in the SAC.

But the night didn't end there. Halfway through, a box of dandiya sticks were brought out.

There was a deft switch from garba to dandiya raas, with students breaking the circle to form long lines across the ballroom floor. The dancers proceeded performed a series of complex movements using two decorated sticks, the eponymous dandiyas.

Slowly but steadily, more and more people picked up the courage to venture onto the dance floor. Weaving in, out and around each other, the dancers' laughter threaded its way through the dizzying tapestry of dandiyas and dresses that covered the floor.

The night came to a close around ten, after a repast of samosas and pakoras. The Hindu Students Council E-Board thanked everyone for coming out, the speakers began to come down and everyone began trickling out of the SAC. Students split off into the cool night air, cherishing warm memories.



Here are 134 photos from the evening taken by
Brandon Loo, Aaradhana Natarajan, Tenzin Norzin, Edward Wang





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