Students and community members alike had a literal taste of India and a glimpse of traditional dance during the annual India Night event Sunday in the University of Idaho Student Union Building ballroom.
The Indian Student’s Association has presented the community of Moscow with India Nights since the early 1990’s, ISA President Saurahb Dobhal said. The experience lasts three hours and spans across space, time and various Indian cultures.
Megha Karki, a performer in this Sunday’s India Night, said they hoped to show attendees Indian culture in an engaging way and also seize the opportunity to raise money for charity.
“This is a very nice platform for us to showcase our Indian culture and how diverse it is,” Karki said.
The hosts of India Night told the audience there are 28 states in India, each with its own language, its own customs and its own culture. They said they were celebrating the diversity of an ancient nation with this India Night.
They emphasized the philosophy of hospitality that exists in India, and spoke about Indian facts — it is the birthplace of Gandhi, the location of the Taj Mahal and home to more than 1 billion people.
India Night was packed with dance: seven performances in total, ranging from traditional to Bollywood and “retro” dances that came straight from Indian in the 1960’s and 70’s.
“Next year, we want more Bollywood, more folk, more cultural performances — and we hope to include one skit too,” Karki said.
Audience members were encouraged to participate in the festivities: some hollered, most clapped along with the music and those who attended wearing traditional Indian attire were invited on stage for a fashion show near the end of the night.
Amey Shigrekar, vice president of ISA, experienced his fourth year of India Night this Sunday and has been the spokesperson, events coordinator and vice president to ISA for two consecutive years.
“We start planning in January,” Shrigekar said. “There is food to cook, music to choose and logistics to figure out.”
Shriegkar, who is in charge of the dances this year, said ISA members begin practicing their routines in the month of March.
Karki said this year’s rehearsals were intense as they only had two weeks to prepare.
There are about 20 members of ISA, and they are sorted into groups and given various responsibilities in preparation for India Night. Those in charge of food cook enough for the 500 to 600 people who will attend each year, Shriegkar said.
“We serve traditional food, but we try to keep the spice level as minimal as possible,” Shriegkar said.
Shriegkar said he would plan for India Night to include traditional instrumental recitals as well, but getting his instruments to the United States would be difficult.
Sometimes, ISA attracts members who are not from India, and participation in India Night does not require an audition for performers. Shriegkar said there are some students from America and Nepal participating in ISA events.
Dobhal is graduating this year, but Karki said she is looking forward to helping organize next year’s India Night.
Alycia Rock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org