North Penn hosts annual Garba

ICA members celebrate a night of culture appreciation.


Hannah Nguyen

Dancers cheering as the night came to an end.

TOWAMENCIN — Colorful clothing, intense dancing, and traditional music filled the gymnasium on Friday, September 27th as North Penn’s Indian Cultural Association (ICA) hosted its annual Garba.

Garba is a dance that originated from the state of Gujarat in India that celebrates the Goddess Shakti who represents purity and power. Traditional Garbas are performed around a statue or picture of Shakti. The dance is performed during a nine-day Hindu festival.

This year’s Garba at North Penn High School took a month to plan, and the ICA members decided to make it more traditional compared to the ones in the past years.

“Planning for this event was hard because since so many people show up, we have to make sure we have enough food, drinks, and space,” said ICA president Nidhi Patel.

The dances began slow and continued to increase its speed as time went on. For anyone who has never attended a single Garba in their life, you’d be surprised at how difficult it is at first. But once you get into it, and perhaps maybe even break a little sweat, you dive fully deep into the rhythm and get the hang of it. 

Dancers created circles around the image of Shakti. Fast-paced dancers were in the inner part of the circle while slower dancers were in the outer part of the circle. Anyone could jump right in, but you had to be quick and hope that you had someone to guide you if you were inexperienced.  

“I love the music and dressing up; Garba is really intense and you can’t feel your feet after one night,” shared North Penn High School junior Isha Dhankecha.

“I love how it’s an opportunity to celebrate my culture with others while having a good time,” added North Penn High School junior Dhara Patel.

Hannah Nguyen
Participants doing raas, a dance with sticks and rotating partners.

After a few hours of fast-paced dancing, everyone gathered to begin their prayers as part of the religious segment of the night. 

As the last few hours came close, participants went into rows to do Raas which is a type of dance involving sticks and rotating partners. To do the dance, you and a partner would tap your sticks together to the rhythm of the music and later rotate so that you had a different partner each time.

No matter how sore your feet might have been from all of the dancing, you still had enough energy to dance your heart out until the night came to a close.

This year’s Garba was an unforgettable night. With all the energy bouncing around the room, you left feeling satisfied that you had the opportunity to attend such a great event, or that you finally got your workout in for the week. Either way, the night was phenomenal.

“What I love most about Garba is how it brings together everyone to celebrate something so special, and even though we are in America—far from India—we can still freely express our beliefs and traditions, and that’s so amazing,” said ICA Historian Diya Patel.