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India Club hosts celebration as part of religious festival


Photo
Matt Robles/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Astronomy junior and treasurer of the UA India Club Sapna Patel dances during Tucson's annual Garba celebration held at the Ina E. Gittings Gym on Saturday. More than 100 people from the Tucson community and the UA attended the Garba hosted by the UA India Club.
By Seth Mauzy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 24, 2005
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The UA India Club hosted Tucson's annual Garba celebration Saturday, a Hindu religious celebration that brought students and the local Indian community together for a night of music and dancing.

The party filled the Ina E. Gittings Gym with more than 100 people whirling and spinning in bright-colored traditional dress from 9 p.m. until after midnight.

A Garba is traditionally the culmination of a nine-night festival called Navratri, and consists of music and dancing in celebration and praise to Durga, the goddess of health.

"The Garba is organized every year by ISSA (the India Society of Southern Arizona), but this year a family tragedy kept them from having one," said Kishore Shakalya, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student and president of the India Club. "A lot of the students were sad to hear there wasn't going to be a party, so we decided to bring the celebration back to the students this year."

The Garba dancers form a large ring, usually around a statue of the goddess, and spin and twirl around the circle and each other. Anywhere from four to 60 people danced at any one time, with people taking breaks to rest and socialize while others returned to the ring in an effortless exchange.

"This is a dance anyone can learn," said Mahima Jain, a molecular and cellular biology sophomore. "I brought my roommate, and I'm teaching her the steps tonight."

Revelers enjoyed other traditional dances, including Dandiya, a dance where pairs or long lines of people dance around one another while hitting together a pair of wooden sticks.

While the crowd was made up primarily of students, other members of the Tucson Indian community, many parents of India Club members, joined in.

"It is very nice that this can bring students and other community people together," said Gayatri Sharma, a member of ISSA and mother of pre-health education senior Amita Sharma. "It's unique to see that people of all nations and cultures come together and bring happiness to everyone."

Lisa Wade, who was attending her first Garba at the invitation of some friends, said she was amazed at the cultural diversity apparent in the attendance.

"It's a beautiful thing to see a Polish girl in a sari teaching people to dance to Garba music," said Wade, a biosystems engineering freshman. "I'm glad they did this so I didn't have to go all the way to Phoenix."

The event was also a fundraiser for the club's annual Diwali, a celebration and cultural stage show the scheduled for next month.



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