On Thursday, attendees can join the University of Georgia chapter of Asha for Education to learn the steps to the garba and celebrate Navaratri, a Hindu festival celebrated every autumn.
Garba, a cultural dance originating from the Indian state of Gujarat, is usually performed during Navaratri to celebrate the Indian goddess, Durga. It’s also danced during weddings and casual parties. Navaratri, which means “nine nights,” traditionally occurs over the course of nine evenings and is celebrated near harvest season.
During the event, attendees will be able to take pictures in a photobooth and enjoy Indian food such as samosas and chili paneer. Asha will cater these two main dishes from Decatur, and members will also provide homemade food and drinks such as lassi, an Indian sweet drink. Indian fraternities and sororities such as Delta Epsilon Si, Sigma Sigma Rho and Beta Chi will bring snacks as well. At the end of the night, there will be a prayer and a Bollywood open dance floor.
“[Garba] allows new students ... to learn a little more about our culture and really immerse themselves in it through this dance,” said co-president of Asha at UGA, Madhuree Patel, a senior from Fayetteville, Georgia, majoring in finance and international business.
The UGA Indian Cultural Exchange and Indian Student Association are co-sponsoring the event. This year, co-president of Asha at UGA Riti Desai, a junior majoring in biology, said they are expecting at least 300 attendees.
“Even if you’re out of your comfort zone, it’s such an open and welcoming environment,” Desai said. “We’re willing to teach you and we’re willing to let you become a part of our culture in that one night.”
The event is being hosted under Asha for Education, an international nonprofit that raises funds to improve education for underprivileged children in India through bake sales and other events.
Patel said one of the chapter’s fundraising projects went towards providing wheelchair accessible school buses to disabled students in India.