When: 9/30/11 Where: Pauley Ballroom
An Indian dance form that originated in the western Indian state of Gujarat, garba is the rough equivalent
of western social dancing. It differs markedly from classical dance forms like bharatnatyam and odissi. The dance is usually done in
a circle, usually around a lamp or an image of the goddess Amba. At every step, participants gracefully bend sideways, the arms coming together in sweeping gestures, up and down,
left and right, each movement ending in clap. Variations on garba's traditional steps are becoming more common.
Closely associated with garba, raas is a similar, line-dance form, where dancing partners hit dandiya, or ornately decorated sticks, together, in rhythm
to the music. Traditional raas involves a five step process, though variations can involve more.
Both garba and raas are most commonly seen during the festival of Navratri ("Nine nights"), a celebration of
Hinduism's goddesses. Some sects of Hinduism believe the nine days of Navratri correspond to the nine forms of "Shakti," which include: Durga, Bhadrakali, Jagadamba, Annapurna,
Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita, Bhavani and Mookambika. Others believe the nine days are divided among the three principal goddesses, the first three for Durga, the
second three for Lakshmi, and the final three for Saraswati.
When: 10/27/11 Where: Pauley Ballroom
Known alternatively as Deepavali in South India, Diwali is considered the Hindu festival of lights, where diyas are lit to
signify the triumph of good over evil. The festival is closely correlated with the Hindu New Year, and is usually celebrated by donning new clothes,
visiting with relatives, and traditional pujas to the goddess Lakshmi. It is one of the few holidays within Hinduism observed throughout the subcontinent.
As with most
holidays, they are numerous stories within Hindu lore that explain the celebration of Diwali. These include: the return of Shri Ram to his home in Ayodhya, following
a fourteen year exile; the vanquishing of the demon Narakasur by Satyabhama, one of the wives of Krishna; the austerities observed by the goddess Shakti to her consort, Shiva;
Krishna's defeat of Indra, the king of the gods.
When: Spring '12 Where: Lower Sproul
Celebrated throughout India, especially in the North, Holi is a Hindu spring festival. It is known alternatively as
Dolyatra in West Bengal, and Phagwa in Bhojpur. The festival usually consists of three separate events: Holi, Dhuleti and Rangapanchami.
The first, Holi, celebrates a common theme in Hindu festivals - the triumph of good over evil. According to the Vaishnava story, there once was an asura (demon),
Hiranyakashipu, who, through boons of near-immortality granted by Brahma, began to terrorize the three worlds. He openly threatened the god Vishnu, who had earlier vanquished
Hiranyakashipu's brother, Hiranyaksha, that he would seek revenge for his brother. Curiously, Hiranyakashipu's son, Prahlad, was a staunch devotee of Vishnu, and claimed to his
father that Vishnu resided in all things. Furious, Hiranyakashipu asked his sister, Holika, who was protected from fire, to sit with Prahlad inside a fire,
challenging his son's belief that Vishnu would protect him always. When Holika sat with Prahlad, indeed Vishnu protected him from the fire, and in his place, Holika burned. Vishnu
later incarnated as the man-lion Narasimha, to kill Hiranyakashipu. Holi, deriving its name from Holika, celebrates the burning of the asura's sister.
During Dhuleti, the second day, people take to the streets, throwing powdered color and scented water at each other. The colors are usually made from ayurvedic herbs, including
neem, kumkum, haldi and bilva. The herbs are supposed to counteract colds and viral illnesses common with the spring. The third and final day, Rangapanchami, marks the end
of the color festival, and usually falls on the day of Pooranmashi, or the full moon.
When: Spring '12 Where: TBA
Vaisakhi is an ancient harvest festival in Punjab, which also marks beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season.
Vaisakhi falls on the first day of the Vaisakh month in the solar Nanakshahi calendar.
Vaisakhi is one of the most significant holidays in Sikh calendar, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699. Vaisakhi is celebrated by the Khalsa as their
birthday every year, the day corresponding to the event when they were created by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
This day is also observed as the beginning of the new year by Indians in West Bengal, Kerala, and some other regions of India. The particular significance attached to the
occasion shows regional variation outside of Punjab too. In Himachal Pradesh, Hindu Goddess Jwalamukhi is worshipped on Vaisakhi, while in Bihar, Sun-god Surya is honoured.
The festival is celebrated as Rongali Bihu in Assam, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Vishu (or Vaishakhi) in Kerala, and the Sinhalese/Tamil new year
festival in Sri Lanka. Besides Punjab, Vaisakhi is widely celebrated as traditional harvest festival in many northern states of India, such as Haryana, Himachal Pradesh