Navratri at U closes out Hindu celebration of good versus evil

by Elizabeth Giorgi

A nine-day festival has come to an end, celebrating good triumphing over evil.

The Hindu Student Society celebrated Navratri on Sunday at the St. Paul Student Center. The society, which hosts an event every semester, celebrated the day with food, music, dance and performance.

Hundreds of students and many community members attended the event.

Navratri 2005 was celebrated the day after the completion of the nine-day celebration. Nav, which means nine, and ratri, which means night, is celebrated by nightly dances and stories outlining a tale about the victory of good over evil, said Aarti Vasdewani, a volunteer for the event.

There are Indian dances, called “Garba,” that take place for nine nights leading up to the 10th day when the effigy, the devil king, is burned, signifying the victory of good over evil, she said.

The performers said storytelling is important in the Indian dance form. The dances are not only performed out of happiness, but to demonstrate the traditional stories.

Vasdewani volunteered with the Hindu Student Society to help with organization and the day of the event.

The event began with several tables of information about Hinduism, food and art, as well as information about the Hindu Student Society.

Indraneel Shikhare, a microbiology graduate student and event volunteer, was responsible for answering questions visitors had regarding Hinduism.

The event is open to everyone, not just people who practice the religion, he said.

“We want to raise more awareness of Hinduism,” he said.

The organization provided food and chai so visitors could taste different traditional foods.

Chemical engineering graduate student Ninad Pendse was responsible for the food and choosing performers for the event.

One of the difficulties of organizing the event was getting volunteers, he said.

The main aspect of the evening was the performance of several songs and dances that represented the Navratri tradition.

“The most difficult aspect of planning is finding people for dancing,” Pendse said.

Microbiology graduate student Sumitha Nallu said she was working with several tasks for the event.

Nallu decorated tables with traditional Hindu art and spoke with visitors.

“I enjoyed preparing for the dance, the music,” she said.

The dances were performed by Nrityalaya Dance Academy.