Some spectators also took part in the dance

New York:

Times Square reverberated with the beats and music of “Garba” as members of the Indian-American community performed the traditional Gujarati dance in the iconic New York destination to celebrate its inscription on the UNESCO heritage list.

Despite near-freezing temperatures, members of the diaspora from across the New York tri-state area, including New Jersey, turned out in large numbers late Thursday evening to perform Garba in the heart of Times Square.

Earlier this week, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage included ‘Garba of Gujarat’ in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its 18th session in Kasane, Botswana. With the addition of Garba, it is now India’s 15th entry on the list.

Dressed in traditional Garba finery, men and women performed the traditional Gujarati dance amidst the flashing billboards of Times Square as New Yorkers and tourists from around the world stopped to watch the performance, take photos and videos, and to cheer on.

Some spectators even joined in the dance and tried to follow the steps and rhythm of garba and the ‘dhol’.

The incumbent Consul General of India in New York, Dr. Varun Jeph, addressed the community at the Times Square celebration and said it was a “significant and historic occasion as we celebrate Garba of Gujarat” and its inscription on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

“These celebrations are not just Garba celebrations but celebrations of the diverse, vibrant and celebrated traditions, heritage and culture of India,” he said, adding that the celebration of Garba at Times Square – the “Crossroads of the world” – the case is actually special and incomparable.

Jeph emphasized that the celebration in Times Square highlights the unity, harmony and coming together of communities. “Let the rhythm of Garba resonate in our hearts and spread it across the world,” he said.

Jeph noted that several other cultural elements of India have been added to the UNESCO list over the years and “we are sure more and more elements will be added in the coming years.”

Leading diaspora organization Federation of Indian Associations NY-NJ-NE (FIA) and community members gathered with the Consulate General of India in New York to celebrate Garba in Times Square. A special video about Garba was also prominently displayed on a billboard in Times Square.

FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya described the occasion as “historic” and said the Indian-American diaspora had a fondness for the Garba art form.

“We are extremely grateful to UNESCO for recognizing” the ancient art form, which “also represents an auspicious and divine festival” in India during the Navratri festival.

Vaidya also thanked Prime Minister Modi for his leadership and the Indian government’s efforts to include Garba in the UNESCO list.

The newly elected President of the FIA ​​for 2024, Dr. Avinash Gupta, said it is a proud moment for India and the diaspora across the world that Garba has been included in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “Garba brings people and communities together and we are so proud to celebrate this today at the crossroads of the world – Times Square.”

Following UNESCO’s announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on inspires us to preserve and promote our heritage for future generations. Congratulations on this global recognition.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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