ISA throws cultural Diwali program

TWO STUDENTS PERFORM at the Diwali celebration, singing and playing guitar.

Roughly two weeks ago, the members of the Indian Students Association displayed patriotism to their roots by celebrating the festive yet religious Indian holiday, Diwali. Since 1987, ISA has aimed to increase awareness of Indian culture and traditions among the RPI student body. ISA throws a Diwali show annually, and it is said to be its most prominent event of the year. The club was rumored to have some pressure in throwing this year’s Diwali show as it had to follow up last year’s show, which was regarded to be a massive hit. However, with a lot of dedication from the members, the audience was indeed in for a treat. Each act highlighted principles of Indian music, dance, drama and comedy.

The club starts its work very early to gather members and start preparation on the different acts that the show would comprise of. Unlike most years, this year the participation was quite overwhelming, resulting in a show that went for far longer than the estimated two hours. Jaikrishen Wadhwani ’12, the president of the organization, mentioned in the introduction of the program that countless nights were spent in making this year’s program possible. Many of my friends in the program, who were respectively Indian, claimed that they had dance practice until 3 am as they got closer to the date of the show.

Sitting in the audience, I looked around and was amazed by the diversity in the crowd. Moms, dads, students, and professors were all ready to experience the nature of Indian culture. At about 7:15 pm, the show started with the singing of both the American and Indian national anthems. This helped unite all of the members of the audience.

Afterward, the very hilarious hosts of the show introduced each other and set the scene by cracking many hilarious jokes. Following the introduction came several musical acts highlighting many popular Indian styles including Bharatanatyam and Bhangra. One act, comically entitled Garam Masala, named after a popular Indian dish, mixed Indian classical dance with western modern dance. Barton RA Divya Akula ’12 was featured in this dance. Other prominent dancers in the program included Samik Patel ’14 and Manoj Arra ’14, who performed in a Bhangra routine.

Personally, my favorite part of the Diwali show was the skit entitled Munna Bhai. The play was about a comical character who came from India to study at RPI named Munna Bhai (played by Harsha Bhisetti) and how he influences the Renssselaer community. The play had many jokes that catered to both the Indians in the audience as well as the rest of the audience. Many, including me, regarded it as the icing on the cake with respect to the show.

As the show ended, I was reminded about the great Indian culture that I had grown to love. A friend of mine, Shankar Rao, who is an international student from India, told me that although he loves RPI, after watching the show he is beginning to miss home.