Scores of Garba and traditional Navratri events were held across the New York region, bringing alive the traditions of India and the customs of the ancient Hindu religion.Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Manhattan at the Sports Center in Chelsea Piers, to swing to a live band playing music for the Gujarati Garba-Raas, a traditional folk dance. The event titled, Garba In The City, is however, just one of several events held during Navratri around New York City. The nine-day celebration of Goddess Durga takes several forms, ranging from fasting and prayer to dancing the Garba-Raas, and even professional networking.
“In the Queens and the Richmond Hills area there are almost 50 to 75 Garba-Rass (sic) events,” Pandit Vishal Maraj, 36, of the Queens, N.Y. non-profit Hindu Learning Foundation, told New York Press. Attracting many Indo-Caribbean Hindus, the Foundation located on Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, began its Navratri with the Bali Daan, or offerings to the Goddess. Among the larger religious observances is that at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens, which began day-long rigorous prayer and fasting Oct. 13 to go on till Oct. 22.
The fifth annual Garba in the City started in 2011 by two young professionals, mirrors the rising number of Indian-Americans who choose to call Manhattan home and who earlier may have crossed the Hudson to get their Garba fix.
Some of the other events around New York included the Nartanrang Dance Academy’s Navratri Garba which took place on Oct. 10 in Mitchell Field in Garden City, N.Y.; the India Society Garba Night Celebrations also on Oct. 10, at JFK Middle School, in Port Jefferson, N.Y.; and one of the largest and most elaborate festival and pooja schedules for Navratri at Ganesh Temple, Flushing. Starting with Durga Pooja from Oct. 13 to 15, followed by Maha Lakshmi Pooja Oct. 16 to 18, Saraswati Pooja from Oct. 19 to 21, capped y Durgashtami Oct. 20, Vikaya Dashami Oct. 22. The NYC Hindu Temple on 96 Ave. B in New York City began its Navratri celebrations on Oct. 8. and ended them Oct. 16.
The Indian Square in Jersey City, one of the largest hubs of Indian-Americans residing around the area, was glitzy with lights, buntings and banners as the community celebrated the beginning of Navratri, the celebration of nine nights marking the arrival of goddess Durga on earth last week.
The inaugural event Oct. 17 was organized by the Jersey City Merchants’ Association, the organization that had organized it the past. The organizers took pride that the celebrations attracted some 8,000 people, lining up the streets of Newark Avenue, a part of which is called the Indian Square, despite somewhat untimely cold weather.
People danced to the tune of Bollywood music and live performances by local artists almost till midnight. Many non-Indians waited on the sidewalks as well to take a peek at the festivities. The festival, which started in 2003 with the cooperation of the Govinda Temple on the Newark Avenue, has been a high religio-cultural point to which the Indian-American community looks forward to every year.
This year, Patel said, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, extended full cooperation, to make the festival a success, For example, he said, the paving of the stretch of the road on Newark Avenue was completed ahead of time. “The Mayor was very cooperative and praised the community for the outdoor celebration of the event,” Patel said. Although it was in Jersey City, Navratri is being celebrated in neighboring towns of Jersey City as also in New York and across the United States.