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See The Vibrant South Asian Students Celebrate Fascinating Storytelling

This month marks GW’s 11th annual South Asian Heritage Celebration, a time when South Asian students will honour storytelling and tradition.

March will see the hosting of events by about four student organisations that highlight multi-regional diversity and invite participants to share their childhood experiences.

The celebration’s theme, “Once Upon a Time: Weaving the Threads of Tradition, Diversity, and Resilience Through the Art of Storytelling,” according to student leaders, will encourage students to embrace the real-life experiences that have shaped South Asian communities’ cultures.

To start the month in the University Student Centre on Friday, hundreds of students attended a fake Shaadi, a fake South Asian wedding, with many of them dressed in traditional South Asian attire.
The bride and groom, Farina Khan and Ramiz Rahat, made their big entry, or baraat, to start the evening. The evening was concluded by the South Asian Society with dance renditions of Bollywood hits, including “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi” by Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Udit Narayan, and “You are my Soniya” by Sandesh Shandilya, Sonu Nigam, and Alka Yagnik.

This year’s Mock Shaadi, according to Saher Mir, co-chair of the celebration for the Pakistani Students Association and videographer for Hatchet, perfectly encapsulated the storytelling theme. The mock wedding was modelled after the Punjabi folk tragedy Heer Ranjha, which is akin to Romeo and Juliet and features a dying bride and groom eating poisoned dessert.
According to Mir, Mock Shaadi is one of the PSA’s largest events of the year. To replicate a real wedding, the organisation hired a professional decorator and obtained catered food.

The competitive Bollywood fusion dance group GW Garmi’s competition director, Parisa Aziz, said the group’s performance at Mock Shaadi echoed the lively and romantic dances to music that family members frequently perform at traditional South Asian weddings.
She also mentioned that while there is a small Bangladeshi population in the D.C. area, she values getting together with people from various South Asian cultures to keep connected.

Anjana Murugan, a second-year student and the secretary of GW Chamak, a women-focused multicultural dance team, explained that the group’s three-part dance performance at the event started with a Latin-style dance that featured the Elvis Crespo song “Suavemente.” This was followed by a North Indian dance called “Dilbar” and a South Indian dance called “Maari Thara Local.” During their performances, Chamak’s members’ diverse backgrounds and personalities come together to tell a story, according to Murugan.

Senior Prerna Polepally, the vice president of programming for SAS, announced that the organisation will close out the month by having a campfire event on March 30 where students can share stories from their childhood and a keynote event in the Jack Morton Auditorium on March 23. These events will help students learn about South Asian familial and religious traditions.

The Indian Students Association’s programming chair, sophomore Aditi Venkateswaran, reported that on Saturday, the organisation held a Stranger Project event at the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum. Over seventy students showcased personal narratives, artistic creations, and poetry regarding their encounters with the South Asian community. According to Venkateswaran, the organisation was inspired by a similarly named display in New York City and began accepting contributions in February through tabling and internet channels.

Guests examined contributions that were displayed on lit easels. Poems and autobiographical pieces explored loss, childhood memories, and love in South Asian societies.
ISA will hold Khaana Khazana later this month, a gourmet event where students can sample food from D.C.-area vendors from various Indian areas.

According to Venkateswaran, she thinks that by introducing pupils to unfamiliar cultures, the SAHC celebrations would inspire them to embrace who they are. According to Venkateswaran, there is a lot of unconscious prejudice directed towards the South Asian community, since the media frequently depicts them as “nerdy” or “undesirable.”

The Hindu Students Association’s head of programming, sophomore Prisha Sharma, announced that on March 30, the group will organise Holi, a festival of colours that heralds the arrival of spring, in Square 80. According to Sharma, the event would include powder of various colours that participants could toss into the air to symbolise the hues of spring.
The university won’t allow them to use Kogan Plaza because the powder may stain the ground, so Sharma said it was difficult to reserve space there for Holi. She stated that although the event will be held in Square 80, the group will need to cover the grass with tarp.

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