Garba reminded me of beauty of diversity and inclusion

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As the Navratri festival is currently underway, tens of thousands of Indian-Americans across New Jersey are coming together at garbas to celebrate. I recently had the privilege of attending a garba in Sayreville and had an incredible experience I will never forget. There were thousands of people, men in their jabho lengos and women in their elegant chaniya cholis with young children by their side, all dancing to the rhythmic drums and live music around the mother goddess Durga.

Navratri marks a special time that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, just as Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura in a battle lasting nine days and nights. It is also a time to observe discipline, find purity and seek new beginnings. I find many similarities between the themes of Navratri and my campaign for governor of New Jersey, themes that further resonated with me during my time at garba and for which I am running.

When I look back to the last eight years in New Jersey under the leadership of Governor Chris Christie, as well as his Lieutenant Governor and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno, I see nothing but failure and darkness. A period that squeezed the middle class, dug our fiscal hole in the state deeper, ignored the next generation, and made the state less fair and less just. Schools were not adequately funded and education for our children suffered, and our economy, infrastructure and transportation development were ignored.

This is why I am running for governor, to stop the litany of poor decisions made by Christie and Guadagno to the detriment to our residents.

I believe that on this November 7, Election Day, we will be able to create a state with a brighter future that ensures a quality education for our children, a stronger and fairer economy with good paying jobs to take care of our families, as well as adequate health care and affordable housing for the elderly.

As I danced garba for the first time, along with my wife, Tammy, and friends like Congressman Frank Pallone this past weekend, I was again reminded of the beauty of our state. The beauty of diversity and inclusion, that those dancing around us readily accepted us into their culture and taught us garba steps. The colorful ambiance and radiant atmosphere that filled me with optimism for the future. The pride that I felt when I saw so many members of the community coming together and enjoying the moment with one another.

I look forward to celebrating many more garbas to come with the Indian-American community. For everyone in New Jersey and across the world celebrating, I wish you a happy and festive Navratri!

(Phil Murphy is Democratic Candidate for Governor of New Jersey)