Indian Garbha dance rocks Union

Palak Shah, senior in engineering, and other students dance at the Garba Raas Bhangra Indian dance held at the Illini Union Saturday evening. Austin Happel

By Arvind Badrinarayanan

Swirling silks and linens of every hue and color descended upon the Union last Saturday for the Indian Students Association’s bi-annual dance. More than 1,200 people showed up for what is arguably one of the largest Indian dance events in the US.

The association’s Garbha is a succession of three traditional Indian dances – Garbha, Dandiya-Raaz and Bhangra.

“It was the most amazing time and the best part was having everyone there,” said Jay Patel, an executive committee member for the association.

“The diversity there was amazing this year; we’ve had more non-Indians than ever before, they were telling us what a great time they had and asking us when the next dance was.” Patel, sophomore in Business said. “The best part is when people tell you that their feet are hurting three days later, you know they had a great time.”

“The Bhangra/Garbha/Raaz dances are like no other,” said Chris Juby, sophomore in LAS. “It is indescribable the sense of euphoria that is felt on both an individual and collective way. The music, the people and the beautiful outfits make me wish I had more cultural identity, it is my favorite event of the year.”

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    For those new to the dances, the Indian Dance Club was on hand to show them the ropes. Aayush Choudhary, junior in Business and one of the founding members of the Indian Dance Club said, “we started our club in fall 2004 where we had a booth on Quad Day, since then we’ve been involved in teaching Indian dance before the Garbha and on other occasions.”

    “For the past few years the IDC teaches people who don’t know, which fits right into our plan of using Indian culture to bring people together, teaching everyone how to dance with us,” said association executive committee member, Anil D’Souza, junior in Engineering.

    The association collected relief donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The event raised more than $200, which has been donated to the American Red Cross, D’Souza said.

    Camera flashes were everywhere as members of the University’s Indian population were all brought together for an occasion to impress with traditional outfits and modern Indian designs.

    For more than ten years the association has put together Garbha, which has given Indian culture and identity a huge boost on campus. While the music and dance for Garbha and Dandiya-Raaz remains firmly rooted in Indian culture, Bhangra has made itself well known internationally due to artists such as Punjabi MC who remixed well known hip-hop songs with bhangra beats and lyrics. Dandiya-Raaz, a dance using sticks which is representative of the fight between good and evil in Hindu mythology.