Dozens of shoes haphazardly strewn outside the Great Hall were the first clue that something exciting was happening on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Upon entering the Great Hall, a sea of smiles, laughs, hugs, and barefoot dancing set the tone for the night’s event — Triangle Garba, the second night of which was hosted by Sangam.
Sangam is a South Asian campus organization responsible for putting on this year’s Garba celebration.
During Garba, participants dance around a murti, or symbolic representation, of a Hindu deity. It is part of the celebration of the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri, which is celebrated primarily in North India.
“It's a great social event to bring together different groups of friends within the South Asian community at UNC,” sophomore and Sangam member Maanav Karamchandani said.
But this event is not just for the UNC community— it’s Triangle-wide, with participants joining from South Asian organizations at N.C. State and Duke as well. The universities take turns hosting.
“Sangam’s goal for this year is to be a lot more inclusive about cultures around South Asia,” Sangam’s treasurer Ananya Garg said. “And so we've incorporated this in a manner so that everyone feels included and welcome to celebrate this very special festival called Garba to North Indians.”
North Indians that traditionally celebrate Garba used this event as an opportunity to teach their dances to others seeking a new cultural experience.
The dancers formed a large circle, stepping and twirling in sync and clapping on beat as eager learners echoed their movements.
“I've learned dances from my friends that have learned dances from other friends who have learned them from their parents or their moms or their grandmothers,” Garg said.
This year’s Garba ran from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Participants wore traditional Indian clothing, with most men wearing kurtas and most women wearing brightly colored lehengas and saris.
Garba’s atmosphere was a lively celebration of South Asian culture.
“(Garba) allows people to get better cultural diversity and a better understanding of what's important to us,” Karamchandani said. “It's a really good way for everyone to get an experience in a low-pressure, fun environment of what members of the South Asian community participate in.”
Garba is not the only event that Sangam hosts. Throughout the year, Sangam plans events like game nights and ice cream socials to bring its members together. Additionally, Sangam teams up with other organizations to plan events and celebrations.
“Last year, we hosted an event called Vaisakhi Mela with the Bengali Student Association and Nepali Student Association,” Sangam’s secretary Pranav Tippa said. “So throughout the year, we plan to do more collaborations with other cultural clubs and so on.”
Garba has successfully kicked off a year of activities for Sangam, and its members are excited about more festivities and events.
“It's a great way for me to see my friends and really tap into my culture,” Karamchandani said. “Because as the child of immigrant parents from India, being able to experience these sorts of things really helps me reconnect.”
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