Indian Student Association celebrates another successful India Night


Collegian photo by Frankie Herrera

Jordan Rusche, Copy Editor

Colorful ribbons, flowers and lights alongside hand-crafted pinwheels and kites greeted the guests at India Night, Sunday, March 1.

This year’s theme was Satrangi, meaning “Seven Colors of the Rainbow,” which highlights the variety of cultures, languages and celebrations found throughout India.

India Night is hosted by the Indian Student Association (ISA) each year in collaboration with the International Relations Council. The event is a celebration of the diverse culture of India and its neighboring countries by the students and faculty at South Dakota State University.

“We know these are turbulent times with a lot of uncertainty on many, many fronts,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said during his opening speech. “We’re glad you’re here, we’re glad you’re part of the SDSU family.”

Other speakers during the program’s inauguration included the Mayor of Brookings, Keith Corbett, who described the vision statement of Brookings as valuing a diverse and welcoming community.

“I can’t think of any better opportunity to do that than an event like this,” Corbett said.

The evening started with both the United States and Indian national anthems, then featured opening remarks and thanks from ISA members and faculty.

Guests were able to take part in a buffet of traditional Indian cuisine. The menu included main courses such as chicken curry, tandoori chicken and mutter paneer, a dish made with tomatoes, peas and cheese. There was also a dessert of cookies and cream ice cream, a fried milk powder combined with whipped cream called gulab jamun and a traditional drink made with buttermilk and curd called chaas.

After eating, attendees were treated to a variety of performances featuring both traditional and contemporary singing and dancing.

The dances included Garba, a traditional dance representing “rhythm, elegance and celebration,” a fusion of the traditional Bharatanatyam and Odissi and some modern, high energy Bollywood choreography. Classical and Bollywood style songs were also performed during the night’s events.

The celebration concluded with a fashion show of traditional attire featuring men’s, women’s and children’s.

India Night serves as an insight into one of the many subcultures of SDSU, especially for those from backgrounds that are culturally different from those of India.

“It helps you respectfully learn the culture of another country. It’s a great privilege to represent our country,” Tricia Serrao, an SDSU student and one of the performers during India Night, said.

She and another performer, fellow student Sudarshan Choudhari, both performed in India Night 2019 as well.

“We do miss our culture, and this is an opportunity to show the people what we have in India, and how we celebrate our festivals and the food we have,” Choudhari said. “It’s a good feeling for us to share this with everybody.”

ISA did most of their fundraising for this event through working at concession stands during school events. Additionally, businesses like First Bank and Trust and Flavor offered donations for the event. Some fundraising was also done along Main Street in the Student Union.

“We started a new tradition where we sold chai tea. We wanted to promote our organization through that,” Janhavi Virkar, the treasurer of ISA, said regarding the types of fundraising the organization did on their own.

India Night began 30 years ago in 1990, two years after Dr. Chandradhar Dwivedi, a professor in the pharmacy department, first founded ISA in 1988. At the time, only a handful of Indians and other Middle Eastern international students attended SDSU.

Now, international students have a stronger presence on campus, and according to the Office of International Affairs, there were roughly 112 students from India attending SDSU in the spring of 2019.

“We have multiple students with even more cultures,” Anyesha Sarkar, an SDSU student who performed the fusion of traditional dances said. “SDSU is a hub of diversity, and what better way of celebrating this place than demonstrating what is different but also that we can all harmonize together.”

These events, according to the members of ISA, serve as a way for incoming international students to meet potential roommates or simply make friends with others from similar backgrounds.

ISA sponsors many other events throughout the year, including their Independence Day festival, and religious festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Dussehra, Holi and Diwali.