Students celebrate Navratri

The drums rolled, the sound of clicks and melodious regional music filled the air, and a panorama of bright-colored clothes brought the spirit of celebration to life. Saturday was Om’s annual Navratri performance, a traditional dance festival of western India marking the triumph of good over evil.

Om is a South Asian student group on campus that forwards the interests of Hindu, Jain, and Sikh cultures. It hosts events open to everyone, where guests experience the culture of South Asia. Although religious in its formation, Om hosts events purely as cultural traditions, not to promote religious sentiments of any kind.

The dances of Navrati are known as garba and dandiya. Garba is usually danced to slow devotional music, dedicated to Hindu goddesses. Performers dance in circles, accompanied by synchronized claps. Following garba, dandiya dancers click sticks together in partners to generate a fixed rhythm, which forms the crux of the dance. Overall, the Om dancers performed an entertaining and authentic performance. Almost every attendee seemed intoxicated with the music and danced with enthusiasm.
Om has been holding annual Navrati performances since its inception six years ago at Holiday Inn Select. The event usually draws a large crowd, in part because the performance is free. “[We] don’t charge fees because we want people from all walks of life to come and participate in these Indian cultural dances,” said Om President Gautam Daswani, a senior in business administration. The organization receives most of its funding from Student Senate and the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

“I have been going to this event since freshman year and absolutely love it,” said Priya Kothari, a junior majoring in English. “I love dressing up in these traditional clothes and meeting people. After all, anyone who is anyone in the South Asian community is going to be here.”