You Make Me Feel Like Dancing: South Asian Cultural Week Brings Banghra, Bollywood to Colgate

 

 

Jess Mawhirt

Last week, the South Asian Culture Club (SACC) sponsored a number of events during its first South Asian Culture Week.

One didn’t have to be in the club or know anything in particular about South Asian culture to take part in the event. From movies to dance parties and performances, always with tons of South Asian food, SACC wanted South Asian Culture Week to give students the opportunity to experience another culture for themselves.

“We felt this experience would be a great addition to the liberal arts education we receive, as it served to broaden the students’ outlooks,” co-president of SACC junior Shreyas Mehta said.

The week kicked off Thursday night at 7:00 with a film screening of “Monsoon Wedding” in Love Auditorium. This film told the story of a last-minute arranged marriage in New Delhi and was a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Film. The film traced five stories about love, class boundaries, family drama and morality.

SACC chose this film thinking that audience members would be able to connect to its more Western aspects while learning about a different style of filmmaking.

The next event was the “Bhangra Sutra” dance party on Friday night at the Ralph J. Bunche Peace Studies and International Relations House.

Once inside, partygoers found a dimly lit crowded dance floor, Indian food and DJ Amar blasting a mix of hip-hop and Bhangra, a popular style of dance music from India.

On Saturday, the Siena College Dance Troupe performed Bollywood Blockbuster in the chapel.

“The Siena College group did a great job of blending traditional Bhangra moves with hip-hop steps and flips and cartwheels,” senior Anand Kapur said. “I was definitely dancing in my seat during the performance, and in the aisles towards the end.”

The Hindu Students Association held a puja (prayer) service for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in the Coop TV room on Sunday evening.

On Monday night at 7:30 in Love Auditorium, SACC sponsored Neal Katyal. the John Carroll Professor at Georgetown Law, who spoke about “Guantanamo, the Supreme Court, and the Rule of Law.”

Recently, Katyal led the counsel for Salim Hamden in the Supreme Court Case Hamden v. Rumsfeld. Hamden, allegedly Osama bin Laden’s driver, is currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Katyal helped ensure that Guantanamo inmates would receive a free and fair trail in the U.S. judicial system when the Court ruled that military trials were against the U.S. Constitution.

“We chose Neal Katyal because he draws elegant connections between being raised as the son of immigrant parents and his fight for democracy,” Mehta said. “We felt that this depicted the important role that South Asians played in the political process, and was a great opportunity for Colgate to experience a great speaker.”

Colgate responded warmly to Kaytal. Although the attendance was less than expected, the 175 or so attendants of the lecture were very appreciative.

“The standing ovation at the end of his talk, and the barrage of interesting questions that followed, was a great indication of the success of Neal Katyal’s talk and his message to the Colgate community,” Mehta said. “His fascinating story and his passion for social justice definitely served to inspire everyone in the audience.”

Kapur echoed this sentiment.

“Professor Katyal showed us what the ‘little guy’ could accomplish if he believed he was right and had enough faith in himself to prove it to the rest of the world,” he said.

The next and final event was South Asian Food night at Frank Dining Hall, complete with decorations and an opportunity to get henna tattoos.

SACC considers the week an overall success, but they are looking to make next SACC Week even better.

“This was our inaugural South Asian Week,” Mehta said, “and our experience will help us make this a bigger and better event next year.”