During the Culture Night practices, the India club focused on the pleasure of travel and sharing its culture


Performance of the India Club during Culture Night 2021.

Photo by Mark Daeson Tabbilos

Rajkumar Tamang, a senior from Kathmandu, Nepal studying social work, is the secretary of the Great India Club. He said culture and music bring people together. “When there is music, it doesn’t matter which country is playing it. We all love to listen to it, dance with it and have fun. … I think I saw that. … [It] brought us all together, ”he said.

Indian club president Vidya Irene Purushottam, Tamang’s wife and a senior from New Delhi specializing in TESOL education, said the club decided to use the costumes and dances he had prepared for Culture Night canceled last year, commissioned from India. Purushottam said that most people assume that Indian dances are mostly Bollywood style, so this year they decided to perform different dances from all over India: three folk dances and one classical dance.

Rimpy Vinay Jurial, from New Delhi, India, said she joined Culture Night this year because she was very committed to her culture and her performances brought her closer to her country. It’s also a way for her to show respect to her culture, she added.

Enjoy the trip

Indian folk dances are comparable to Polynesian dances because they can both tell a historical story, Jurial explained. She said that many classical dances come from Hindu scriptures or mythology, which allude to the lifespan or journey of a goddess or god, she shared.

She also said that every hand gesture has meaning, just like in the Hawaiian hula dance.

Purushottam stated that the names of the dances are Bhangra of the north, Bihu of the east, Dandiya Raas of the west and Kathak of the south. The club also included music from Bollywood because they wanted their performance to be improved. Nevertheless, their choreography leans towards these folk dances.

Purushottam said its Culture Night practices focus on “sharing [their] culture, meet new people and make new friends. Ultimately, she said they wanted to find joy in the journey rather than just focusing on performance.

Men and women wearing traditional multicolored Indian clothing stretch their arms out to the side as they take to the stage at Culture Night 2021.

Performance of the India Club during Culture Night 2021.

Photo by Ulziibayar Badamdorj

She said she knew the pandemic often brought uncertainty and there was a possibility they might not have been able to function. They faced that possibility, she added, focusing on what they were in control of.

His club does not regret participating in Culture Night, Purushottam said. “He’s one of those [life] experiences you remember… the journey is usually more important than getting to your destination. ”

Culture Night preparations

Purushottam said their presidency has kept their club running throughout the pandemic because social bonding is something people have missed the most.

“One way to stay connected would be through clubs, so we decided to stay active with [our] club, ”she noted.

In the Great India Club, they not only have artists from India, but also from countries like Tonga and Samoa, she said. For her, Culture Night is a unique experience because students can meet other people in the club they choose to participate in for the event.

She said club members took care to follow COVID-19 safety protocol. “[It] took a lot of extra effort to make sure people were tested at the right time so they could train [the following] week, ”she said.

“It’s amazing that the school allowed us to organize a Culture Night in the first place [because] you know things are still a bit risky. So we didn’t want to do anything to reverse that, ”she added.

Purushottam said he is grateful to the club’s management team for doing a commendable job in making sure the club is safe during their practices and that those who join them are tested. “It would have been so much more difficult if we had to do everything ourselves,” she explained.

Tamang said that in years past up to 85 people would dance with their club, and this year they had around 20. He said that people who couldn’t train and play with them were really missed. the Night of Culture.

Women and men dressed in traditional Indian clothing raise their hands while holding the Indian flag in front of them.

The performance of the India Club waving the Indian flag on Culture Night 2021.

Photo by Mark Daeson Tabbilos

Jurial said their favorite dance they performed this year is called Kathak. He comes from the southern region of India. Because she is from the northern region, she has not had the chance to learn and play it even though she has seen dancing in movies and photos and read about it. “So this is a great opportunity for me to learn southern dance from my own country,” she said.

Jurial said she enjoys representing her culture on Culture Night because she can post photos on Facebook to show her friends how respectful she is to her culture.

Additionally, she said she didn’t have the chance to attend classes and meet other people because she was a student’s wife. So participating in Culture Night was special for her because she got to know other people.

Meaning behind the costumes

“One thing that is common to most of our folk dances is the vibrancy of the costumes,” Purushottam said. An example of this is the clicking bells they used in Kathak, she explained. Their costumes also included auspicious hand paintings that are common in India.

The men in their performance wore Indian-style pants, called salwar, and long shirts, called kurta, she said. The women wore skirts, called ghagra, black t-shirts, and golden Indian-style scarves, called dupatta.

“Gold is considered to be God in the Hindu religion,” Purushottam explained. “[The color gold] is important in festivals and classical dances. ”

Tamang said he was very happy with the way their practices went because his wife simplified the steps but still in keeping with traditional culture.

See more pictures on Ke Alaka’i Facebook page.

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