On Oct. 1, a clear Saturday evening in Sammamish, crowds of people decked in traditional and colorful Indian attire flocked to the city’s Central Washington University (CWU) campus. The air was filled with talking and laughter, the beat of Dandiya sticks, and live music. The festivities were for the annual Garba-Dandiya Night hosted by the Vedic Cultural Center, in partnership with the City of Sammamish and Beats of Redmond.
Garba-Dandiya Night kicks off the nine-night Hindu festival of Navratri. Garba and Dandiya are traditional Indian folk dances with religious significance in Hinduism. The dances are performed during Navratri to celebrate Durga, the goddess of the material world.
Inside the CWU gymnasium, Garba-Dandiya Night attendees performed the festive dances to live music by DJ Gabbar. They then enjoyed a vocal performance by Sheetal Patwardhan-Bapat and Sriram Koppikar, and Indian percussion performances by Beats of Redmond.
In the back of the campus, volunteers operated dining and entertainment booths, including an astrologer, children’s craft stations, and traditional Indian food available for purchase. Also present was NorthWest Share’s Free Vegetarian Food Truck.
Harry Terhanian, 76, the spiritual leader of the Vedic Cultural Center, said the goal of the event was to “preserve and even grow the ancient tradition of [Garba and Dandiya].”
Sasha Loyola, 13, a first-time attendee of Vedic Cultural Center’s Garba-Dandiya Night, enjoyed the vibrant and festive atmosphere of the event.
“It was really cool to see everyone’s traditional Indian outfits,” Loyola said.
Garba-Dandiya Night marks the beginning of a busy time of celebration for many Hindus. For Terhanian, the night also marks a chance to connect with the community.
“It was just plain fun. Everybody had a good time, and it created community,” Terhanian said.
For anyone interested in additional festivities this season, the Vedic Cultural Center is promoting the Festival of Lights, hosted by NorthWest Share on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Seattle Center. The event is free and open to the public.