South Asian dancing, cuisine and religious traditions were on display in Lamberton Hall for Lehigh’s annual Garba Night, held to celebrate the festival of Navaratri.
On Sept. 30, the South Asian Students Association club and the India Club hosted Garba Night: an event that allowed students, community members and members from Lafayette’s South Asian Students Association club to come together and learn about the history and culture of South Asia.
Graduate student Aayush Bansal, ‘20, executive board member of the India Club said Navaratri is a festival to worship Durga, goddess of power. During this festival, the Garba dance is performed to honor the goddess. It was suggested that traditional attire be worn.
Bansal said the purpose of it is to learn how to dance with others.
“Garba is one of the most significant dance forms in India,” Bansal said.
The event consisted of several performances, including performances by the Leela and Bhangra dance groups and a tutorial for how to perform the Garba dance.
Anjali Shah, ‘24, a member of the South Asian Students Association Club, performed at the event as a member of the Leela Dance Group.
“I was really excited to perform with Leela to just dance and have a good time,” Shah said.
Shah said she hopes that people learn more about the culture by attending.
Bharath Jyothi, ‘24, public relations chair of the club, said one of the purposes of Garba night was to promote cultural awareness throughout campus, specifically South Asian culture.
“We just really want to share the South Asian culture and traditions among the Lehigh student body and expose them to these beautiful celebrations,” Jyothi said.
Mannan Mehta, ‘22, former member of South Asian Students Association Club, said the excitement surrounding Garba Night is what attracts people to attend.
“For the South Asian community, it is just a great way for us to stay connected with our culture and heritage,” Mehta said. “For others that may not know as much about South Asian culture, it is an opportunity to learn in a hands-on way.”
Jyothi said the South Asian Students Association Club and the India Club began planning for this event about a month ago. He said it was made a 5×10 event, a programming series for first-year students, to engage more students and further promote cultural awareness.
Bansal said the clubs had to decide which members of each club would help with specific parts of the process, including who would teach the attendees how to perform the Garba dance.
He said both clubs want to benefit Lehigh through the events they run, and these events can showcase what South Asian culture is about while also providing learning opportunities for people who may not know much about these celebrations.
“I made a lot of lasting friendships through it,” Mehta said. “I just can’t speak highly enough of (the South Asian Student Association).”