Dandiya Night and Bathukamma illuminate Indian culture

Dandiya Night and Bathukamma event celebrated for its second year at GSU’s Hall of Governors on Friday, Oct. 28.

The event honors Navratri, a significant festival in India that is celebrated nine nights and ten days. The nine embodiments of Goddess Shakti are Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba or Jagadamba, Annapoorna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, and Chandika Lalita, Bhavini and Mookambika – are honored, with some regional interpretations.

“It’s part of India’s heritage and traditions, celebrating Dandiya and Bathukamma, bringing feminine energy and femininity by worshiping the Goddess created to kill evil,” said Parthavi Patel (GSU’s student and Vice President for International services). “Celebrating her fiercest power and femininity of womanhood.”

GSU’s English Language Learning Center Director Akiko Ota, Ed.D. added:
“I had minimal experience with Indian culture until I arrived six years ago at GSU. I get the chance to learn and hear other cultural traditions and customs, and I’m always happy to join and support the students and campus life community here.

“I knew very little, so I’m thankful to all the Indian students on campus for educating me; students are still helping me on properly wearing a sari, still trying to perfect that.”

One of the biggest attractions of this colorful and vibrant festival outside the beautiful handmade surreys was the dancing, especially the dandiya raas. A folk dance of Gujarat, intended for a group dance, takes its name from the ‘dandiya’ or the two sticks used during dancing; women and men, wearing traditional clothes and jewelry, spend the festival dancing and paying gratitude.

Guests and participants dined on traditional Indian cuisines, a delicious perk of the evening.

“We are taking part in celebrating one of the longest dance festivals marked around the world,” Patel said. “For nine nights, we pay focus on the traditions, as well as the devotions of Goddess, the Goddess was created in divine energy to destroy evil.

“The Goddess fought for nine days in all of her nine forms, having different communities, beliefs, and ethnicities for her nine forms, ultimately being worshipped for her femininity and powerful and fearless energy strong enough to fight the evils of the world.”

The festival empowers women with blessings to fight evil energies but wearing different jewelry and outfits celebrating women is intended as a festival for women.

Bathukamma’s regional traditions throughout the festival demonstrated a practice of stacking flowers beautifully in seven layers, emulating the shape of Temple Koumperum.

“It represents the temple Gopuram, which means mother Goddess come alive in Telugu,” Patel said, “This makes me feel involved, at home, and proud that GSU cares about my community and knowledge to help spread; I (we) feel supported, which means the world. I feel welcomed; the community and culture here at GSU is inclusive, making me want to pursue further degrees.”

Bilal Khan, a current grad assistant at GSU for the department of the Office of International Service (OIS), planned and organized its second annual event, Dandiya Night and Bathukamma.