Taipei, Overseas Indians in Taiwan on Saturday celebrated the Navratri Festival with traditional dances, preserving their culture in their home away from home.
The celebration, dubbed Dandiya Nite 2020, was organized by the Indians’ Association of Taipei (IAT).
The Northern Indian festival involves a nine-day worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga in her nine forms, one form per day, by fasting at day and dancing at night, said Purnima Kshatriya, one of the planners of the event,
This year’s Navratri, which means nine nights, began on Oct. 17 and lasts until Oct. 25, according to the Hindu calendar, she said, and the IAT held the celebration on Saturday so that more people could join.
While many Indian communities around the world have scaled down or halted Navratri-related celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IAT decided to proceed with the Dandiya Nite in Taiwan because of its handling of the pandemic.
“The Taiwanese government has handled the COVID-19 very well,” Kshatriya said. “We feel very safe here. We can go anywhere.”
Kish Harkishin, president of the IAT, told CNA that the association has been organizing the Dandiya Nite event since the early 1980s.
“For the younger people, they learn our culture. For older people, they get together,” he said.
The Dandiya Nite begins with a ritual called Aarti, in which light was offered to Durga, followed by guests in splendid traditional Indian attire performing Dandiya and Garba, traditional dances from Gujarat in western India.
In Dandiya, participants hold wooden sticks and tap them against those of their partners to rhythmic beats, recreating the battle between Durga and the demon; in Garba, dancers move around centrally lit lamps in a circle, reflecting the cycle of life.
More than 100 Indian people and their Taiwanese friends, including officials from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), joined the celebration.