When it comes to different cultures, I am sometimes at a loss. I have only really experienced my own culture. Some may consider my lack of branching out as being closed minded, and looking back, I would have had to agree with those people. But not anymore. Ever since coming to Gannon and being immersed in what some refer to as a melting pot of cultures, I have been able to experience and learn a lot. Having a best friend and roommate who happens to be Indian is definitely a blessing. Being able to learn new traditions and to learn about Krima’s religion has broadened my horizons.
Ever since my freshman year when I meet Krima Patel, she has changed how I view the world. I don’t see it at face value anymore, I see the world now as three dimensional. Upon returning to Gannon this fall, Krima surprised me with authentic Indian clothing. After trying it on and coming to the conclusion that American fashion is inferior to Indian fashion, I wondered where and when I could wear my new outfit. My question was quickly answered when Krima mentioned that there was an Indian festival called Navratri hosted by Gannon. Excited, I counted down the days until I could be completely engrossed in all things Indian. On the day of the festival, I eagerly put on the outfit that Krima bought me. The fabric was filled with vibrant colors and beautiful embroidery throughout the entire piece of cloth.
Arriving at the Gannon Recreation and Wellness Center where the festival was held, I was utterly shocked to see such a massive crowd of people from around Erie. The amount of people at Navratri was incredible. The festival was not only limited to Gannon students; there were people from all around Erie. To see the shrine of the nine goddesses of Navratri not only be worshiped, but the extent at which it was decorated was truly breathtaking. The word Navratri itself means nine nights, which represents the days and number of goddesses that are worshiped. Each goddess represents a specific meaning and each one is worshiped on a different day in the span of the nine days.
The music and dancing that occurred throughout the night was the result of worship as well. The style of dance which is often referred to as Garba symbolizes that the Goddesses are the only entities that remain unchanging in a world that is constantly altering. People use Garba as a means to become closer to the Goddesses almost as if they are trying to welcome the Goddess’ presence at the festival. Being a part of something so amazing has definitely made me realize that the world is full of so many possibilities if we are open to them. Seeing so many people be so welcoming and willing to teach the non-Hindu individuals about their culture, dances, and the significance of Navratri in general was a vital experience for not only myself but for everyone who attended.