MILLBURN, NJ - In the Hindu tradition, Navaratri is a ten-day festival meant to honor the Goddess Durga. But for the Millburn/Short Hills Desi Club, which hosted a Garba and Dandia Ceremony over the weekend, it also meant the chance to come together for a night of connections, food and joyful dancing late into the night.
Millburn Short Hills Desi Club (MSHDC) Co-Director Sapna Gupta spoke with TAPinto at the event. She said that staging the celebration in a public place was important for the club's visibility and outreach.
"It is very important, because it is very convenient because everybody knows the high school," Gupta said. "We are very grateful to the board of education to let us use this facility...It's good to see the whole Indian community and some of the non-Indian community here."
Gupta also noted that the festival has grown since it's introduction, with approximately 600 attendees this year, up from 200 in the mid 2010s when it started.
Additionally, the holiday bazaar that proceeds the event earlier in the evening has grown from four vendors three years ago to almost 20 this year.
One of the attendees at this year's Navaratri celebration was Bimal Shah. The Short Hills resident traditionally attends with his wife Swati, son Sahil and daughter Sajni, but Sahil had responsibilities with the Millburn robotics team that kept him preoccupied.
For Shah, having generations of his family at the event is what makes it the incredibly special.
"[It's] a good crowd, lots of people hitting the floor, a very good tradition," Shah said. "It's amazing to see our kids come out and follow the tradition."
After the holiday bazaar, guests eventually filtered into the gym, where they danced until almost midnight.