A Gujarati man claimed he and his friends were denied entry to a Garba event in Atlanta, USA as they didn’t look “Hindu” and their last names sounded foreign. Appalled by the incident, Dr. Karan Jani, an astrophysicist, took to Twitter to share his story. He alleged that Garba organizers at Shakti Mandir in Atlanta said, “You don’t look Hindu and the last name in your IDs don’t sound Hindu”
Karan Jani (29), hailing from Vadodara, is an astrophysicist in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a large-scale physics experiment and observatory operated by Caltech and MIT to detect cosmic gravitational waves.
“Year 2018 and Shakti Mandir in Atlanta, USA denied me and my friends entry from playing Garba because: ‘You don’t look Hindu and the last name in your IDs don’t sound Hindu,’“ Jani alleged in a tweet on October 12 after the incident.
He and his friends were denied entry on the ground that they were “Ismaili, Vohra, and Sindhis”, Jani said.
His father Pankaj Jani, who lives in Vadodara, told media persons that Karan spoke to him after the incident and sounded nervous.
“Volunteers stopped him and told him he does not look like a Hindu and even his surname does not appear to be that of a Hindu. They checked his ID which had the national emblem on it. Despite that, he was asked to leave. Later he talked to me over the phone and sounded nervous,” Jani said.
“He has been going there since years for the event,” the victim’s father further said.
In his tweet, Karan Jani narrated a conversation between one of the organizers and his friend.
He said: “My Konkani friend who came to Garba for 1st time due to enthusiasm of us Gujaratis was pulled out of line and was told: ‘We don’t come to your events, you are not allowed to ours’ She: ‘My last name is Murdeshwar. I’m Kannada-Marathi!’ Him: ‘What is Kannada? You are Ismaili’.” “My other friend’s last name had ‘Dangarwala’. We spoke in Gujarati to them. They still said we were ‘Vohra, Sindhis’. They actually kept stating other religions!! They ganged up and told us to leave. While we saw other non-Indians being entered (which they, of course, should!),” he further tweeted.
“I was told by that organizer, a senior person, things in Gujarati which are so crude and demeaning that it can’t be shared on the public forum. Just to ensure we don’t dare to enter the temple again. Such fuss just for Garba in Navratri – With friends – to celebrate Indian culture,” he added.
“Our IDs had Indian Emblem. Yes, emblem with ‘Satyamev Jayate’ right? Apparently, it didn’t has our religion. Our caste. It was embarrassing. I had tears in my eyes saying them: I come here to play Garba for the last 6 years. How could you not let us in because of last name’,” Jani mentioned on the microblogging site.
Jani said that he had been attending the event at the venue for the last six years “to celebrate Indian culture” and the incident had left him “shocked and embarrassed.