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Vishal Bhagwati Jagran at Satsang Center

Ranjai Saigal

Navarathri, literally meaning “nine nights” is the most celebrated time of the year all over India. Although it has different names in different parts of India, from Kashmir in the north to Tamilnadu in the South, and from Gujarat in the west to Sikkim in the east, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm as the conquest of the good over the evil.

While in India one gets to witness celebration of only one region at any given time, at the Satsang Center in Woburn, one had the opportunity to see two different versions of the Navarathri celebrations on the same evening. On Friday 15th of October, 2004 the cold and rainy weather did not deter hundreds of people from coming to the Satsang Center to take part in the Garba , a Gujarathi tradition  followed by the Jagrata, a tradition followed in Punjab and Sind.

The “Madh” a temple holding the “Garbadeep” was set up in the middle of the hall and men, women and children clapped their hands and danced around the “Madh” for over two hours. The music was provided by volunteers from the Satsang Center who sang many traditional Gujarathi Garba numbers to the wonderful accompaniment of a Dol, which provided a fast foot tapping rhythm. The music was traditional unlike the more Bollywood influenced Garbas which have become popular all over the US particularly among the younger generation.

At nine pm the Garba festivities ended and in a very short period of time the Gujarati atmosphere was replaced by a more Punjabi look and feel where people sat down to sing “Bhajans” dedicated to “Mata”. Usha Kamal and her group of excellent musicians, including Dolly Raja, Gaurishankar and others led the high energy singing which had the entire audience clapping and singing “Jai Mata Ji” in unison. Yogi Sood of Gourmet India sponsored the dinner for the evening and attendees were treated to a real feast. The high energy "Bhajans” dedicated to “Mata” or “Amba” continued till late in the night. “Usha Kamal has dedicated herself to this cause. We have Jagrata at least once a month and during Navarathri it happens more often” said Reena Singh who is a regular at the Jagratas.

As I was leaving the center I realized that only in America could we see Gujarat transform into Punjab in such a short period of time, that too in the middle of Woburn Center. The festivities at the Satsang Center made clear that independent of ethnic affiliations the time of Navarathri is a time of great joy - a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil with song and dance.

To learn more about Jagratas please visit their website at


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1. August 23, 2009Daya Shanker Shukla 

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