Dancing the night away: Duke Diya hosts Triangle Garba

Duke Diya hosted Triangle Garba at Penn Pavilion from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 7. The annual South Asian cultural event was filled with colorful cultural clothing, lively music and dance festivities.

Duke Diya is Duke’s premier South Asian undergraduate student association. The university organization aims to celebrate, appreciate and spread awareness of South Asian culture through various events held on campus. Saanvi Pawa, the Cultural Chair of Duke Diya’s executive board, gave a clearer picture of Triangle Garba as well as Garba in general. Pawa is in charge of planning events centered around different South Asian cultures' celebrations. Throughout the year, she works with South Asian affinity groups to co-host specific holidays, like Diwali and Eid.

Garba, Pawa detailed, is a form of Indian cultural dance originating from the state of Gujarat in India. It is also the name of the religious and social event Triangle Garba was enacting. Both the dance style as well as the event entail a characteristic repetitive circular dance around a distinctive female idol deity. The event “honors the feminine divinity and cyclical nature of life,” Pawa said. The circle dance is supposed to symbolize both the cyclical nature of life but also the Hindu view of time, as Hindus believe in the concept of karma and reincarnation. 

Music is played through the event, and songs usually revolve around the nine goddesses in Hinduism. The dance is performed in traditional South Asian clothing and heavy traditional Indian jewelry, including waist belts, jhumkas (earrings), necklaces and bangles. It is also often performed barefoot to further honor the relationship between man, earth and divinity. Another distinctive feature of this dance and event is the use of dandiyas, decorative wooden sticks symbolic of swords that are used as props for dancing. Dancers twirl their dandiya sticks or hit their dandiyas against another dancer’s dandiya. Pawa explained how this event is often layered with many other traditions, including cultural foods and religious prayers. 

Triangle Garba is an annual garba event that brings together students from three college campuses in the Raleigh-Durham area — Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State. Each institution takes turns hosting; this year, it was Duke’s turn. Triangle Garba was put on hold due to the pandemic, but is now up and running again; this was Duke’s first time hosting the event in five years.

This year's Triangle Garba at Duke was a wonderful rendition of traditional South Asian garba events. Penn Pavilion provided a wonderful space for the nearly 400 Duke, UNC and NC State students in attendance. The area was filled with authentic South Asian clothing of all colors, with shimmering jewelry on both men and women. Duke Diya also provided dandiya sticks that could be borrowed for the event on a first come, first serve basis. As circle dancing is as exhausting as it is enthralling, Duke Diya provided water at the event that was used up halfway through the program. 

Overall, amidst the sweaty but lively environment, Triangle Garba attendees danced the night away!


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