UIS host Durga Dance Night

UIS host Durga Dance Night

On Friday, Oct. 3, the Women’s Center, along with the Indian Student Organization Cultural and Casera Crafts, presented Durga Dance Night. The well-attended event was both a celebration of women’s power and Indian culture.

The event consisted of performances, a raffle, and food for all of the attendees, as well as instruction on how to dance in the correct manner. The night began with organized performances in front of a crowd. Afterwards, students who wished to participate were invited down to dance. After a period of dancing, food was served to everyone in attendance, and the dancing resumed.

Lynn Otterson, the director of the Women’s Center, stated, “Our second Durga Dance Night was tremendously rewarding as both a cross-cultural event bringing together at least 400 students as a community to experience an important holiday for our largest international group – and it was a lot of fun.”

Durga Dance Night is the culmination of a festival lasting nine and a half days. According to Roshini Kovuri of Casera Crafts, “Durga is one of the famous goddesses worshiped in India. This festival is celebrated for 9 days and ten nights where we worship the 9 forms of the goddess Durga.” The goddess Durga is described by a “Women in World History” web page circulated by the Women’s Center as “One of the most widely worshiped Hindu deities.” The site also adds, “She frequently appears in household shrines where she is worshiped as having the power to create life and encourage the growth of gains.”

The imagery of Durga is often associated with power. Given this, the festival is often seen in part as a celebration of the power of women. The goddess is seen both as a warrior, said to have decisively beaten the evil god Mahisha in battle, as well as a nurturing god, said to have the power to grant wealth and fertility to those who worship her.

Lynn Otterson believes this type of message is important, stating, “For the Women’s Center, Durga Dance Night was more than fun. It was also the celebration of a powerful creator god who was born a woman. Not many cultures offer us that, and so we want to share that concept as a helpful for women and the future of all humanity.”

These values can be important to all of society, according to Otterson, who pointed out that “Durga’s very ancient story as a fierce demon-slayer, and as a protector of humans and the natural order – can inspire us all in the face of biosphere disaster.” Otterson continued, writing, “By recognizing the powerful Durga’s feminine power to defeat corruption and to mythically reestablish the stability of the cosmos, we can begin healing on many levels simultaneously – from the psychological health of humans to the sustainability of the biosphere.”

The student organization, Casera Crafts, is also devoted to the empowerment of women. Kovuri stated, “Casera generally means a woman doing things with her own hands. When coming to Casera Crafts it’s doing things such as greeting cards, quilled earrings, scrap book, photo frames, and quilling.”

The organization also plans to host workshops on the art for interested students. Interested students are encouraged to contact the organization, which can be found on Facebook.