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Dancing the night away: Dandiya Raas

By Antara Gangwal November 17, 2022

Wooden sticks clap along with the sound of dholak drums pulsing from the speakers. The scent of samosas and pav bhaji and the vibrant colors of traditional clothing fill the room. With over 800 attendees gathering for a night of dance, music and festivities, the school’s Dandiya Raas fundraiser is in full spirit.

Garba is a traditional Indian folk dance typically performed during the Hindu festival of Navratri, which celebrates Hindu goddesses. Dancers don traditional outfits such as blouses and long skirts, mirroring the beat of the music by clapping and following step patterns. When dancers clap decorative sticks called “dandiya” together instead of their hands, Garba transforms into Dandiya.

Daniel Choi Art

“The school has hosted Dandiya Raas annually for over a decade to celebrate our community’s cultural diversity. Dandiya is also the school’s biggest fundraiser,” Leland Parent Club President Sheela Harish said.

Harish explained that this year, the club sold a record high number of tickets, with pandemic regulations limiting the number of guests last year. To ensure that the event would run smoothly, the club began planning decorations, managing volunteers and booking facilities and food vendors in May.

The Dandiya Raas Night Fundraiser took place on Oct. 15 in the school gym. Outside, food vendors sold Indian dishes such as samosas, vada pav and pav bhaji and drinks including mango lassi and chai. Parent Club volunteers also sold dandiya sticks. Guests could take photos with family and friends in the mini gym, where volunteers set up a photo backdrop with garlands and colorful umbrellas. Dancing took place in the main gym and a band featuring veteran Dandiya musicians Asim Mehta and Madhvi Mehta composed and played live music that incorporated drums, keyboard, flute and vocals.

The night opened at 7 p.m. with the Garba dance, which lasted until 8:45 p.m. Afterward, Principal Peter Park and Leland Parent Club officers, including Dandiya Coordinator Shilpa Dalmia, gave speeches about the importance of Dandiya Raas for the school community. Then, Naach—the school's Bollywood dance club—performed to a mashup of four Bollywood songs. The dancers were

Daniel Choi Art

met with thunderous applause celebrating their performances.

“I was extremely nervous to perform in front of such a large crowd with Naach, but after hearing all of the cheers, I felt proud to be showing off the product of our hard work over the past month,” Junior Juhi Khetawat said.

Following Naach’s performance, dandiya began—hundreds of brightly-colored sticks rhythmically echoed throughout the gym. Dandiya lasted until 11 p.m., and to close the night, popular Bollywood songs blasted over the speakers.

Students and parents alike celebrated throughout the night, bonding over their shared heritage. Leland Parent Club views this year’s Dandiya Raas Night as a major success and eagerly anticipates next year’s festivities.


About the Contributors

Antara Gangwal

Staff writer

Antara Gangwal is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. Her hobbies include reading, watching films and listening to music.

Daniel Choi


Daniel Choi is a sophomore at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys to watch shows, do art, and play videogames.

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