Wellness and Prevention Center, Asian Student Association host Garba night

Erin Isley, Reporter

The Wellness and Prevention Center and the Asian Student Association collaborated Monday to host the second annual Garba night for students, faculty and community members. Dancers were invited to visit the Parkway Ballroom in Plemmons Student Union from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for conversation, samosas and Garba dancing. 

Garba is an Indian dance performed in Gujarat, India at special occasions, and specifically at the Hindu Navratri festival which takes place in the month of Ashvina or September through October according to the Wellness and Prevention Center

“It’s just a traditional dance,” said Julia Murray, a sophomore, sustainable development major and member of ASA at App State. 

The traditional attire of Garba is vibrant, flowing and consists of a blouse, long flared skirt and long scarf for women, chaniya-choli, and a tunic and loose pants for men, a kediyu and kafni pajama. The loose nature of the clothes allows for the dancer to spin more freely in the circular motion of the dance, according to the Wellness and Prevention Center’s statement on Garba attire. 

However, attendees were also encouraged to wear whatever they found most comfortable. 

The advantage to having the event at the university, rather than attending larger events held in Raleigh and Charlotte, is that people have the time and space to learn the steps, said Kyra Patel, the Wellness and Prevention Center’s Coordinator for Student Social Wellness and main coordinator for the Garba event.  

“Right. Left. Together. Right,” yelled Patel directing the dancers. 

The first dance of the night featured Garba dandiya sticks, 15-15.5 in. colorful, round wooden sticks that dancers hit against each other in rhythm with Patel’s instruction. 

Dancers hit their dandiya sticks together and spun in time with Patel as she first walked them through the steps. 

“I love Indian culture and food,” said Anokhi Thambugala, a freshman who attended the event. “I’m a global studies major, so I get really excited when I get to learn about other cultures.” 

After learning the steps, some dancers broke off into smaller groups to practice the steps while others gathered at the food table or talked amongst themselves while watching the dance. 

“My grandpa is from India, so I wanted to learn about the culture,” said Aidan Isaac, a senior English major who also attended the event. 

Patel grew up in Gujarat, India performing Garba at weddings, festivals and a variety of other celebrations. 

“When I first came there was nothing for the Indian community here,” Patel said. “Now I get to meet Indian people that go here that I never knew were here.”