Representing the Edinburgh Hindu Society at the NZ Garba was a huge source of excitement – especially as one of NHSF (UK)’’s newest Scottish chapters. Following our 6 hour journey, we eagerly arrived at the Wythenshawe Forum, ready to dance the night away.
Participating in only my second Garba, it was incredible to join such an uplifting atmosphere. Meeting everyone for the first time, it was wonderful to connect with Hindu students from different universities, united by their festive spirit and strong commitment to their culture. Additionally, talking to members from the National Committee who provided invaluable advice as we initiated our society was another highlight.
A special mention to Heer – our incredible chapter buddy! Her unwavering support played a pivotal role in our successful journey, despite transport delays and last-minute messages. We’re really looking forward to getting involved with future National events!
Personally, the arrival of Navarathri is always met with great anticipation, marking a time to celebrate our values and reflect upon our traditions. For South Indian Hindus, Golu plays an integral part of the festivities, with beautiful displays of dolls and figures arranged in a stepped decoration. Bommai Golu honours the nine-day battle between Goddess Durga and the demon Mahishasura. During this time, the gods and goddesses remained frozen as ‘dolls’, selflessly combining their divine powers (Shakthi) during the triumph of good over evil.
By inviting others to engage in group aarti, it fosters a sense of community and togetherness. During this auspicious period, our days are marked with daily pujas, singing Devi Krithis and chanting prayers such as Lalitha Sahasranamam & Devi Mahatmyam.
This year, it was enlightening to experience the contrast between Golu and Garba. Their common symbolism reinforces the rich diversity that underlies our shared cultural heritage.
-Anish Subramaniam, President of University of Edinburgh Hindu Society
North Zone Navratri was a successful and smoothly-run event from the start to the end. It was amazing to have more students at Wythenshawe Forum than ever before, and we hope the successes of hosting 800 students and alumni within NHSF UK’s network lays the foundations for similar or increased numbers next year.
The planning of the event was smooth and this was aided by having a joint Samaj PT with the SZ Navratri team who offered their advice.
-Benish Shukla, National Finance Team Member
Leading the North Zone Navratri Project Team was an extremely rewarding experience, an opportunity to strengthen ties with the local Hindu Samaj and design an event that celebrates and embraces the vibrancy of Navratri festivities from all over the world. Our priority as a project team was to provide North Zone Hindu students with the opportunity to celebrate Navratri. The Samaj also recognised this and a student-only Navratri night was organised, with 850 students and NHSF (UK) alumni in attendance, a record number for North Zone Navratri. As well as the record number of university students, traveling to Wythenshawe from as far as away as Edinburgh, students from Altrincham Boys School, Altrincham Girls School and Sale Grammar School attended, NHSF (UK)’s first affiliated schools and colleges. On the day, everything ran so smoothly, seeing everyone enjoy themselves was a joy and privilege. Hopefully, the success of this year’s North Zone student night will mean similar events will be hosted in the future.
-Dhruv Lad, North Zone Team Member
Central Zone Navratri was amazing this year. It was great seeing everyone dressed up nicely and coordinated, celebrating the religious occasion. The best parts were definitely dandiya as it brought everyone in the venue together. Navratri is a special time for us as it is the celebration of Durga Maa’s victory over Mahishasura, the ultimate victory of good over evil. It also holds a special place in our hearts because it represents devine feminism and highlights the importance of the strength and power of women.
-De Montfort University Hindu Society
Shree Prajapati Hall, once again chosen as the venue for the Central Zone’s (CZ) Hindu student societies for NHSF (UK)’s largest student Navratri event this year in Leicester. It proved to be the perfect setting for this grand celebration. The central Garbi was beautifully adorned with Maa Durga’s murti at the hall’s centre, creating a divine and celebratory ambiance for everyone.
ITV acknowledged and respected the cultural and religious aspects of Navratri, as they live streamed the night, allowing viewers to connect with the spiritual dimension of the festival and interview some of our National Committee, who shared their experiences and discussed the positive impact of such events on the community. The students were attired in traditional Indian garments, such as lehengas, kurtas, and dhotis, which represented an assortment of hues and patterns.
Amidst the whirl of colourful outfits and the sound of clinking dandiyas, the South Asian Health Action (SAHA), a Leicester-based charity organisation that supports people suffering from long-term conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and organ donation-related illnesses with the aim of educating and empowering individuals and family members, was also present with their stall, raising awareness, especially among the South Asian community. It was heart-warming to see how a celebration could be a catalyst for positive change in the community.
The Navratri celebration at Shree Prajapati Hall showcased the commitment of NHSF (UK) students to cultural diversity and the strength that comes from unity. As we look back on the event with enthusiastic and culturally proud students, we feel nothing but gratitude. This event, in the true spirit of Navratri, highlighted the power of traditions, unity, and giving students a sense of purpose, reminding them that they can make a difference in the world.
-Indu Saini, National Events Team Member
It was an honour to be part of the Central Zone Navratri team and be able to represent NHSF (UK) and Shree Prajapati Association Leicester (SPAL) with hosting one of the largest student garba nights in the UK. With over 1200 students gathered under one roof. The shared love and passion for garba and celebrating the festival was evident on the night, creating a real ‘home away from home’ feeling throughout the night.
-Jayan Mistry, Central Zone Team Member
London Zone Navratri served as a very welcome relief from day-to-day uni life, and was the perfect way to end the 9 nights of Navratri.
We saw record numbers attend from SOAS this year, which was so lovely to see especially considering we’ve only just established as a Hindu Society this year.
It was so amazing to see lots of different organisations come together, and hearing from Anoopam and Chinmaya Mission really helped to put the evening into perspective – Navratri isn’t just about dancing Garba and playing Dandiya, and it was really good to hear from Sripriyaji about the meaning of it, and her message about gratefulness is especially important in today’s climate.
Personally, I enjoyed every moment but if I had to pinpoint one thing, it would be the combination of the atmosphere and the community spirit of the students, along with the band playing the crowd so phenomenally well. We’ll be definitely attending next year, hopefully with an even bigger SOAS delegation!
-Gauri Bij, Co-President of SOAS Hindu Society
This October marked NHSF (UK)’s London Zone Navratri event, where we aim to get Hindu students to connect to Maa Durga and to connect with students across the London region, as well as to create a memorable and fun experience that students will want to build upon each year. This experience is unique as it is the only large-scale student-led Navratri event in the UK, where we reach in excess of 1200 students.
A common NHSF (UK) Navratri covers a few aspects where we allow students to perform forms of garba, which is a traditional folk dance that originates from Gujarat, India. There is also an opportunity to take part in an aarti where attendees are able to pray to Maa Durga and connect to their spirituality. These features are essential to providing moments of reflection throughout the day and plant the seed of spirituality in students.
Many attendees felt a spiritual boost after the experience through their connections with Maa Durga and the atmosphere created at the event. This event helps people to connect with their spirituality and their Hindu Dharma.
Attendees ranged from students from Universities ranging from King’s College London, City University, and University of Essex, as well as NHSF(UK) alumni and the wider Samaj. The event consisted of externals from JHOD (Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Alliance), Anthony Nolan, Anoopam Mission, Chinmaya Mission, Akshaya Patra and the British Army. This allowed students to connect with like-minded organisations and added value to the attendee’s experience at the event.
In addition, we had a live band performance of traditional garba music and a range of food on offer at the venue. Overall, the event was a breathtaking experience for attendees to connect with those from other universities and within the London area. As well as, to connect with their spirituality and the teachings of Maa Durga, and the work of organisations in the local area.
-Kishan Jivan, National Events Team Saha
One of our externals was Sri PriyaJi from Chinmaya Mission, an organisation promoting self development said, “I was positively overwhelmed by the amount of people, and felt so much warmth especially from the National Committee throughout.”
South Zone Garba was the final Garba event in the NHSF (UK)’s Navratri event timeline, hosted by the Reading Samaj at the Wren School in Reading. A beautiful setting for the final celebration matched with a magnificent atmosphere, and at the hall’s centre was the Maa Durga murti, providing that divine energy for all. The students and the Reading Samaj wore beautiful traditional clothing adorned by the opportunity to take wonderful pictures, videos, and tasting the amazing food, filling stomachs with delight and love.
Individuals from various cities of the UK and different cultures came to this event, some cities including cities like Bristol, Cardiff, Kent, London, and Leicester. The band helped kick off the evening playing devotional folk, and traditional songs perfect for this celebration. The hall filled up expeditiously with elation in the presence of Maa Durga. This Navratri celebration was a powerful testament of the work done by NHSF (UK) and the Reading Samaj as everyone worshipped Maa Durga in synchronisation. South Zone is the most wide spread zone, which made the union of our South Zone chapters all the more special. This event highlighted traditions, unity and the opportunity given to students to celebrate Navratri home away from home, and honing the opportunity to enable our students to become future leaders, ambassadors and role models in society.
-Somnath Kumar, National Sampark Team Member