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Indian culture honored at Navratri dance festival

Morgan Shunn / For the Lantern

The Indian Student Association at Ohio State presented the religious Indian dance festival Navratri 2011 on Oct. 14, with live music, food and dancing at the Archie Griffin Ballroom inside the Ohio Union.

Navratri was awarded the Most Innovative Student Organization Program in its first year in 2010 by the Office of Student Life and the Ohio Union. Since then, the president of the Indian Student Association, Avinash Gupta, has made major improvements that helped bring about 600 people to the 2011 event, compared to 2010’s attendance of about 500.

“It is really cool to see the turnout of this event as it continues to grow from last years’, and to see even more Indians attend the event this year is also really great,” said Megha Shah, a second-year in exploration.

The changes include moving the event from the RPAC to the Ohio Union and having 20 Indian volunteers who would help others in learning the traditional dances.

“We moved the event from the RPAC to the Ohio Union because we thought it would be a better location since there are many events held at the Ohio Union, and (it would) also help us to reach more people,” Gupta said.

Navratri 2011 had two main goals this year according to Gupta: to expand and increase the awareness of this event to Indian students on campus and around Columbus to promote fellowship, unity and comforts of home; and to give non-Indians the chance to experience the Indian culture.

Sidharth Ramamurthy, a first-year in architecture, and an Indian native, said it fulfilled the first goal for him.

“Being in my first year at Ohio State, I really haven’t met many other Indians until now,” he said. “This event gives me a great opportunity to meet both Indian students and other Indians around the Columbus community.”

Makenzie Frank, a fourth-year in art, gave her thoughts on her Navratri experience.

“As a student who has been to India, this gave me the opportunity to be a part of a huge holiday without going back to India,” she said. “And also assisted me as I continue to learn more about the Indian culture.”

For other Indian students, this event accomplished its main goal of bringing together the Indian community, and making them feel like they are at home.

The festival featured four different types of India’s dances, including the Dandiya and Garba dances. The Dandiya dance is played with stick instruments and Garba is played by hand.

At the event, almost everybody was dancing to the music including Brutus Buckeye, and President E. Gordon Gee.

“In recent years, I have noticed that our campus has many students from all over the world, and this event is a great way to learn different cultures,” Gee said. “Everyone participates in the dance, and for people like me who knows nothing, it provides me a great time seeing and learning new things all the time.”

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