This week, the Justice spoke with Pramoda Bapatla ’20, one of the co-presidents of Namastar, about their event, It’s Garba Season!, on Oct. 12.  

JustArts&Culture: What is Namaskar? 

Pramoda Bapatla: It’s the club on campus that deals with the more religious aspects [of] Hinduism, or just in general, the southeast Asian culture. So it’s more of the religious aspect of it, whereas the other Asian clubs on campus, like SASA [South Asian Student Association], they are geared toward the cultural aspect. Namaskar puts on the religious events.

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 At the event, Namaskar served free vegetarian Indian food to everyone who attended.

JAC: What kind of events does Namaskar typically hold on campus? 

PB: We hold the bigger events like the Garba for Navaratri. We have Diwali coming up and then we have Holi in the spring. And then the smaller ones we kind of advertise and we do small things but we don’t do it on as grand a scale as we do the other three events.

JAC: Can you explain what Garba Season is? 

PB: We have a nine day festival called Navratri, which means nine nights. And each of the days celebrates a different form of goddess, like for bravery or peace. And on the last day you celebrate the goddess herself. Basically, you do this religious dance and in the end you do a little prayer. And then you eat. 

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The event included the traditional dance of the Garba around a shrine to Maa Durga, the goddess of war. Different members took turns leading these dances, which are a part of the Navratri celebration. According to the Facebook event created for It’s Garba Season, Navratri is “a Hindu festival that symbolizes the victory of positivity over negativity.”  

JAC: What kinds of things were done at the event on Saturday night? 

PB: So just that. The thing is though at Brandeis, there’s not as big of an Indian population to be able to have the event on a larger scale, but we do try to have these different events to allow people to have a different experience through each of our events. So last night we did that. We did the religious dance for a little bit, but that’s not always everyone's cup of tea. So we did that, we had food, we did the prayer, but then in the end we went to a little Bollywood music so that everyone could join and be a part of it.

JAC: What do you enjoy most about about this event? 

PB: The fact that everyone was able to get together and they were able to wear traditional Indian clothes and [that’s] something you don’t see everyday. We all came together to celebrate, eat and get to know each other and have a good time.

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Namaskar’s “It’s Garba Season” event brought together students to participate in the Navratri festival. Many members of the club wore chaniya cholis, traditional Indian clothing.

JAC: Why do you think this event is important? 

PB: It’s important because it’s one of the biggest festivals that we celebrate in India. I grew up religiously, so not everyone grew up as religious as I was, so I think it’s important that everybody come together and learn about it [and] get educated about it. And also, there are a lot of international students that come, and so we are able to make this event feel like home for them. I just think it’s important for everyone to understand where they come from, and celebrating these events is a stepstone to get to know that.