Chinmaya Mission Houston Showcases a Festive Navaratri Garaba


Photos: Jayesh Mistry, Rajesh Thatte and Satish Byali

By Vinod Sharma

HOUSTON: Chinmaya Mission Houston‘s Navaratri celebration at the Stafford Civic Center on Friday, October 16, was a grand event. Over 1200 member families and their friends gathered together to spend the evening immersed in all the elements that make the social aspects of Navaratri memorable – the happy interactions, resonating music, energetic dance, and sumptuous food.

Most visible of all was the celebration of immediate and extended family; what a treat it was to see infants, toddlers, pre-teens, teens, young adults, parents and grandparents in one grand ballroom, sharing the fun and frolic of the festival! As the evening began, families were greeted in a foyer decorated with flowers and were ushered into a grand hall by volunteers. There they were surrounded by music and by familiar faces. Some visited with friends, and others joined the Garaba dance chain that was becoming a large swaying circle around the altar. The atmosphere grew increasingly colorful and vibrant – as did the number of smiles, hugs and handshakes – as families continued to arrive.  It was time to catch up and many connected with friends old and new; others lingered to simply relax and take in the scene. Little did the gathering know that they were to be soon captivated by a Sanedo – an affectionately themed dance drama that originated in the villages of Gujarat.  Chinmaya Mission Houston lyricist Uma Agarwal and vocalist Ruchira Shah had created a Sanedo in Hindi that celebrates the life of our Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. That poetic musical mix of story time and dance time had the majority in the room on their feet.


Without missing a beat, the dancing and music segued into aarti when the congregation prayed to Amba Ma – the Goddess of Navaratri, led by our beloved Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty and Acarya Darshana Nanavaty. The devotional singing of the accomplished singers beautifully transformed the social gathering into a spiritual one, united in the oneness of the moment. And then, the mood of the group took on the spirit of a family celebration with the Chinmaya birthday song to celebrate Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty’s birthday. After that significant feature, the Garaba party was back up in full swing.

As if on cue, energetic and vibrant bhangra music started, and dancing resumed.  By then, the dance floor was packed even as some used this time to break for dinner. Following a delicious dinner and some rest from the very vigorous bhangra, the crowd heard the dance music change, and it was time for all to collect their dandiyas. The grand hall was packed to capacity with dancers forming parallel rows, in which they then skipped, twirled around, sashayed, and playfully tapped their partners’ dandiyas, all in joyful rhythm. The room was filled with toe-tapping, finger-snapping music, hearty laughter and good will. As the Garaba continued, the clicking of dandiyas sounded like the ticking of a giant clock.  The, singers, dancers, and accompanying musicians competed to showcase their stamina – each group performed to outlast the other. As that evening of Navaratri concluded, the picture of children, teens, young adults, parents, and all friends on the dance floor made the social and spiritual celebration merge into one big dedication to Ma Amba – in a beautiful celebration of oneness and togetherness.

For further information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, visit or contact Bharati Sutaria at 281-933-0233.