The Indian Students Association and the India Club celebrated Garba, an Indian dance festival, in Lamberton Hall on Oct. 21. Lehigh students danced from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in traditional Garba styles.
The event’s attendees included Indian international students who have participated in Garba since they were children.
“We call it the festival of dance,” graduate student Rohit Thakare, ’16, said. “So just take the groove of it, eat free food and make some new friends who are Indian.”
Thakare, who is from India and a member of the India Club, emphasized the importance of representation from all students at the Garba event, not just students of Indian background.
“The goal is to be as inclusive as we can,” Thakare said. “Of course we know the culture, but we want everyone else to absorb it and learn more about it.”
Thakare said it is important to stay true to Indian customs while still making newcomers feel welcome. He said unlike the traditional Indian custom, Lehigh’s Garba does not include prayer, and this is done to ensure that religion is not forced upon any attendees.
Preom Sakar, ’18, the Indian Students Association president, said Garba is an important event for the entire student body.
“I want people to understand more about Indian culture, mainly because I feel like sometimes at Lehigh, we’re all put in these bubbles and that we don’t try to expand out of those bubbles,” Sakar said.
As a member of the Indian Students Association since her freshman year, Sakar said she’s witnessed a rise in attendance at Garba, and the group hopes to expand the event in the future.
Eventually, Sakar hopes to host the event in Taylor Gym or Grace Hall, because she said Lamberton Hall is smaller and can get too crowded.
Ritika Poddar, ’18, said she’s noticed the growth in the event’s attendance since 2015.
“(The Indian Students Association) has such a big presence on campus,” Poddar said. “Everyone invites everyone to come to this. I don’t even recognize half the people here because people bring new faces every year.”
Some of these new faces include those of prospective Lehigh students. Harrison Nicolas, a high school senior at Bergen Academy in Hackensack, New Jersey, who visited Lehigh said Garba was his first college experience.
“I really like how it represents the diversity you find on a college campus,” Nicolas said. “Coming from a high school environment, I can see how this promotes inclusion in a unique and interesting way.”
Nicolas said he was invited to Garba by a Lehigh student who had heard about the event through advertising and word of mouth.
Poddar said she brought friends to the event and intends to bring new people each year.