Hoya Paxa

Garba Celebration Brings Together Hindus and Non-Hindus

As a member of the Georgetown Hindu Students Association board, I helped put on the Navratri Garba event on September 24, 2011. Navratri, meaning nine nights, is a celebration of the various forms of Devi, or Durga. It is a Hindu festival, which literally means "nine nights." During this nine-day-long festival, it is believed that the powerful goddess Devi, or Durga, comes to visit her devotees.
Garba, on the other hand, is a popular form of dance that originated in Gujurat, India. This dance brings together communities and emphasizes the circular nature of life. For this event, we started out with playing music for Garba for the first hour while people danced. At around 10 PM, we talked about the religious significance of Navratri and we held a puja (a prayer service). Afterwards, we had free Indian food, mango juice, and mehendi for all attendees.

At this event, it was amazing to see how many Hindus and non-Hindus came together to celebrate an event and holiday that is so sacred and special in the Hindu faith. Something I found really wonderful was how respectful people were during the prayer service aspect of our event when we were praying and also when we were speaking about the significance.

It seemed like Hindus and non-Hindus alike were there to learn more about Hindu traditions. Throughout my life, many people have told me "I don't know much about Hinduism," or "What does it mean to be a Hindu?" In this respect, I was very happy to see how many people came to learn about and try to engage more with the Hindu community.

When Hindus see other non-Hindus coming to their events, it inspires them to branch out and attend events for other religions as well. As the cycle continues, more and more people of different faiths or non-faiths begin to mix together and teach and learn from each other.
This event was great for meeting Georgetown's Challenge goals because we had so many people from all different faiths at this event. It was wonderful to see so many people come to the event to learn about our traditions, what faith means to us, and how we celebrate it. A key aspect of interfaith is not only talking about faith from a personal perspective, but learning as much as possible about other faiths so that one can be respectful and understand how wonderfully different and similar all religions are.

 
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