King’s College Celebrates Navratri
King’s College is an ethnically diverse community which proudly supports all of its members.
On Monday, Sept. 29, that pride and support was in full effect at the highly anticipated Navratri Festival. The event was hosted by Professor Bindu Vyas, the Office of College Diversity and friends. Itwas open to all members of the college and local communities.
Participants were taught the purpose and symbolic meaning behind the event, invited and instructed in how to dance, pray, eat and enjoy henna hand tattoos, all free of charge.
Vyas began the event with a PowerPoint presentation enlightening participants about the background and history of the event. Navratri -literally nine nights in Sanskrit – is a festival of dance and worship. It typically occurss twice a year: once in the beginning of summer and again in the onset of winter. This year it began on Thursday, Sept. 25 and lasted until Friday, Oct. 3. Devotion and prayer is given, in particular, to the goddess Durga, the universal or divine mother, and on a larger scale female divinity.
The concept of equality and the reciprocal nature of ying and yang in regards to the relationships between the Hindu gods and goddesses was also expounded upon. For every female goddess there is a male god who complements them. The nine days are broken into thirds, with the first three days devoted towards the purging of impurities (vices and defects), the next three days focusing on spiritual wealth and the final three days on wisdom.
Following the lesson, participants were asked to take off their shoes and gather on the dance floor to begin the Mandala or Tala Rasaka dance. After a slow, cautious start, dancers went around in a circle, performing a three step routine emphasizing on clapping. From there everyone was asked to stand up and gather around in the middle of the floor to participate in a prayer. Afterwards, a small break was had, food was eaten, henna tattoos given and the other dance, the Danda Rasaka, or stick dance, was done.
Theresa Eckhart, a junior at King’s College, was glad she got to experience the event.
“My roommate had to convince me to come, but I’m glad I listened, because I was able to have an informative and fun insider’s view on another culture,” Eckhart said. “The food was amazing. The dancers, especially with their traditional outfits, were spectacular and elegant. I am already planning on being at the next Navratri Festival.”
While many participants may have had their own motivation for going to the event including free food, henna tattoos, or to fulfill an FYE requirement, it was nevertheless an enjoyable event for all.