Although Navaratri was officially over by the time Wolverines gathered to celebrate last Friday, the festive vibe of the event was as strong as ever. Navaratri is a major holiday in the Hindu religion, usually taking place in the fall based on the lunar calendar. Navaratri takes place over the course of nine days and celebrates the goddess Durga’s triumphs over evils, as well as the victory from the Ramayana, an ancient epic. Garba is a form of dance that is practiced during this time, and originated in the state of Gujarat, though it has gained popularity in many other parts of India.
The campus event was hosted by Michigan Wolveraas, a competitive Raas-Garba dance team. By the time the event started, Palmer Commons was full of people wearing colorful and traditional clothes, all ready to start dancing. The night started with garba, as participants danced to popular Bollywood songs and some more traditional songs as well. Garba is performed in circles, each ring full of people doing variations of the same steps. I enjoyed being able to switch rings throughout the song and practicing different patterns. Having different circles at the same time also helped to include more people, both beginners and experts alike were able to find a rhythm they enjoyed by the end. The room was crowded, causing lots of people to bump into each other, but enjoyable nonetheless. The night then transitioned to Dandiya, a dance similar to Garba but involving sticks that people strike together. This portion of the event was definitely higher energy as the noise from the dandiya sticks built and caused commotion all around. I had a great time dancing with my friends and teaching them the steps to the dance.
Having the Navaratri Garba was a great way to bring students together to celebrate a common holiday with other people on campus. It truly felt like a welcoming environment, as some people brought their friends who had never danced or heard of the holiday before. For me, Garba holds a special place in my heart as I danced almost every year growing up, and I’m glad I was able to continue my tradition in college.