Many sari fittings and bindis later, I found myself jingling along Academic Row in my green and red outfit. As I approached the UC, I saw snippets of shiny cloth blowing in the wind, trailing small groups of three or four that were rushing towards Raas n' Dhol.
Doors opened at 7:30pm to a completely sold out crowd. Sponsored by the Hindu Student Council, Raas n' Dhol commemorates the nineday Hindu festival Navaratri. During the nine-day festival, people perform garba, a manner of dancing that involves dancing in a circle around a statue of a god and/or a lamp; they jump side to side, sweeping one arm, and clap.
UMBC only offers one night of garba and, after all that energetic dancing, thats not exactly a bad fact. Students left their shoes in a classroom adjacent to the ballroom and then scurried quickly back. Loud, persistent drums and a live band motivated the big circular dancing crowd. The saris and the cholis spun, the cloths
intermingling, the shining sequins and the large jewelry and bangles only adding to the celebration.
Around 10pm, the live band paused for about 25 minutes and food was served. Samosas, chaat (puffed rice, potatoes, green mint sauce) and complimentary soda were served to the crowd. Donations were accepted, and all money would be going to an Indian program supporting rural education for young children. Next to the food was the dandiya box, where people could receive two sticks to use for the raas portion of the night.
Ronnie Kumar, Junior, and President of the Hindu Student Council, was chatting with his friends and replied energetically over the loud music how much work the whole event took to put together. "Takes quite a few months," said Kumar. "The DJ, the food, the outlet, and also to get the best entertainment possible takes work to do. We sold all of our 450 tickets and the night has met all of our expectations."
Behind the food line, other members of the executive board shared their thoughts. "Planning started in December, and we worked really hard to get a band where the members had come from India," said Anu Divakaruni, Senior and Co-President of HSC.
"It's a perfect depiction of our culture," said secretary Kanan Patel. Those who were resting from the samosas and all the dancing were sitting around the ballroom barefoot and laughing with their friends, shaking the glitter off the palms of their hands.
"Amazing, I met new people," said Julia Luke, sophomore. The live band (Aashiq Band) resumed playing and this time, everyone went out with their dandiyas in hand and spun around the ballroom, that strong drums and bass resounding through your abdomen.
After the band ended, there was the small spiritual portion of the evening, where everyone circled the god and sang a prayer. Once that ended, people went right back to dancing, bangles and hands up in the air, shoulders pumping and hips moving, all the way until midnight.