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Ohio State’s Indian Student Association to host Navratri 2012, celebrate Indian culture, dance

Courtesy of Rishab Bhardwai

Rahul Shrivastava, treasurer of Ohio State’s Indian Student Association, said the event the organization is scheduled to present this Friday is a rare one.  

“It’s just something that you won’t find anywhere in the world,” Shrivastava said.

The religious Indian dance festival Navratri 2012 is scheduled to be held 7 p.m. Friday in the Ohio Union’s West Ballroom.

For its third year, ISA is presenting the festival, which will include live music, dancing and food.

Former president of ISA Avinash Gupta started Navratri in 2010, and the Office of Student Life and the Ohio Union deemed it the Most Innovative Student Organization Program in its debut year.

Rishab Bhardwaj, current president of ISA, said he is excited to continue what Gupta started and hopes to accomplish the goals that were envisioned by his predecessor.

“(Gupta) sought to make these events that we have cater to all parts of India because India is a very diverse country with a lot of different regions that celebrates the same festivals in different ways,” Bhardwaj said. “My goals are also the same, basically there’s still regions out there that we haven’t covered through our events, and it’s just to make sure that we get all the people from India and the regions they represent comfortable here at Ohio State.”

Although Gupta and Bhardwaj’s goals are very similar, Bhardwaj will be focusing on two different goals this year.  

“What I want to get out of that (Navratri) is to make students aware that there is an organization here that is listening to them and making sure their events are there,” Bhardwaj said. “No. 2 is to learn about the Garba, the Dandiya, learn about the different dances, learn about this region we’re trying to cover through this one event.”

Bhardwaj said the dancing is the most entertaining part of Navratri.

During the event, two of the more well-known dances are the Garba, which is played with stick instruments, and Dandiya, which is played by hand.

“What makes it fun is the dance. It’s something that none of the people I talked to knows about it except the people from the region,” Bhardwaj said. “If you want to have a night where you just dance for hours and have a good time while you’re at it, you can come to our event and learn about this festival.”

Even though one of the main goals of this event is to help OSU students to be aware of the Indian culture, to some, this event serves a much a deeper purpose that goes beyond what the eye can see.

“It’s the one time where all the Indians come and dance, and there’s not really an event like this one where that ever happens,” said Shriya Ruparel, a second-year in psychology. “Usually there’s dance teams where they dance specifically for themselves, but this is the one time you see Indian-American students, international students and American students all together.”

For Nihar Vakil, who is Navratri’s co-chair, the event is special because of the opportunity it gives him.

“What makes this event special for me is that I haven’t been to a lot of Navratri events even in India,” Vakil said. “Over here, not only does it give me a chance to have a cultural dance with my friends, but even with their parents and sometimes their grandparents. Having just 600 people doing the same step and the same dance in one room is electrifying.”

Other students, like Ruparel, said they come to the event because of their ties to it.

“Last year I went because I’m a Gujarati, where the dance is from, so I’ve grown up doing it my whole life,” Ruparel said. “It’s really cool to have it at Ohio State because you get the chance to do something you’ve grown up doing with all of your friends.”

Chandni Patel, a third-year in communication, came for similar reasons.

“I went to Navratri last year because it’s actually a really big part of my culture of where I am, the part of India I’m from,” Patel said.

Bhardwaj said in addition to Navratri spreading Indian culture, it also brings together the Indian community at OSU like a family.

“I hope people take away that there is an organization here called the ISA that caters to their wants, their desires to have this event,” Bhardwaj said.

Shrivastava added he hopes people gain a better grasp of the Indian culture and also wants to break barriers.

“Our goal at the end of the day is to spread more understanding of the South Asian and Indian culture at Ohio State,” Shrivastava said. “Get them together here and remove all stereotypes.

Make everyone understand the true meaning of Indian culture.”

Tickets are available for $7 for students and $10 for non-students at the entrance of the event, or online at www.isaosu.com.

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