The gym at Bishop Reading High School was buzzing with conversation October 6, as it hosted the fifth annual Garba Ni Raat. The Hindu dance festival marked Navratri, a nine day Hindu Festival. Garba honours the goddess of strength. The festival was organized by Halton Gujarati Samaj.
Garba originated in the state of Gurjarat, and is usually performed a representation of the Goddess Shakti. A statue stood at the centre of the gym as attendees danced around it. The Goonjan musical group performed inside the gym providing an infectious guiding beat even spectators couldn’t help but move to. Merchants lined the halls outside selling everything from books to jewellery.
It drew people from across the region. Puja Shah came from Halton Hills with her daughter. “It’s really fun, and everyone should try it,” she said of the dancing. She’d attended for three years with a stall selling jewellery. She didn’t get much of a chance to dance, but she did go in and watch. She views it as an event for families. “We can come together with family and enjoy,” she said.
The Asmai family sees value in it of building community. “You might have seen kids, and everybody is coming together; kids and everybody having fun. At the same time is adding harmony in the community. We are inviting people from other communities to come and celebrate with us,” Putam Asmani said. Kids ran up and down the stairs, while other families gathered at tables in the auditorium where food was being sold. “In a way it’s bringing harmony to the community,” he added.
Ray Shah sees the festival as the chance to teach his daughters about their heritage.
“They are learning through this our culture and activities,” he said. He believes it to be a big occasion for a gathering. “Our parents, family, everybody gets together meeting each other”. It’s a good together for that, Shah said. For more information on the Halton Guajarati Samaj visit: www.mhaltongurjaratisamaj.com
Photos By: Denise Cooperwhite