Diwali show displays culture

Rich with color and spirit, the Indian Students Association [ISA] celebrated its New Year holiday, Diwali, with a cultural show that rocked the stage at the North Miami Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

With dances and songs representing all regions of India, the show sold out. Both the ISA board and members deemed the show a great success.

“I knew that it would go well – we have been planning for this show for many months now,” Anand Patel, ISA president, said. “There is a representative selection of dances from the different states of India that are rhythmic, exhilarating and just beautiful.”

The show opened with a religious ceremony by the Hindu Students Council, and MCs spiced up the event with amusing skits to introduce the performances.

Included in the show were classical Indian dances, Raas, a dance that uses small polished sticks called “dandiyas” to exemplify the love between the Hindu gods Radha and Krishna, and Bhangra, a dance that celebrates good harvest and hallmarks the skillfulness and versatility of the dancers.

Reema Bakarania, freshman, participated in both dances.

“Dancing has been a great way for me to meet new people,” Bakarania said. “I have enjoyed all the practices and this night tops it off.”

Diwali is one of the most well known Indian festivals celebrated throughout India. Commonly known as the “festival of lights,” small oil lamps are lit and are placed around the home and on walkways. For different regions of India, the holiday signifies different things: In the north, Diwali is the celebration of Lord Rama’s return after defeating Ravana, an evil being, and being crowned as king; in Gujurat, Diwali is the celebration of the goddess Laxmi who represents wealth; and in Bengal, Diwali is associated with the goddess Kali. Despite the variation, Diwali celebrates the renewal of life, the coming of winter and the new harvest of the land.

In addition to the cultural dances, the Diwali show raised awareness on a number of philanthropic and cultural issues. Encouraging, understanding and disseminating Indian heritage, ViZion Humanity Foundation gave out a scholarship and presented a slideshow displaying the pervasiveness of Indian culture and the need for it to continue. There was bone marrow registration drive, where people could sign up to be a part of the national bone marrow registry to help those in need of bone marrow transplants. Finally, a number of students promoted the UM initiative to start an Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University.

“I really enjoy dancing for the Diwali show,” Pooja Gupta, junior, said. “There are so many great performances and it’s really fun to be a part of it all.”

Nikki Aggarwal, ISA secretary, agreed.

“After weeks of hard work, it was an awesome event that showcased the University’s talent and brought the community to an enriching cultural experience,” Aggarwal said.

Shelly Garg can be contacted at s.garg@umiami.edu.