Students Hold South-Asian Festivities

Photo By Zameena Mejia

Pink, green, blue and red cloth-draped tables, coordinating balloons and streamers brought South Asian festivity to New Paltz.

On Friday, Feb. 15, the South Asian Cultural Association (SACA) took over the Student Union (SU) Multi-purpose Room (MPR) for a night to celebrate “Festivals.”

SACA celebrates the various cultures of South Asia by spreading awareness of its traditions and culture through cuisine, music, arts and language. At 7 p.m., about 150 students, professors and families poured into the MPR for SACA’s annual dinner, presenting eclectic South Asian music, food, fashion and culture to attendees.

The South-Asian dance team, Nachle New Paltz, opened up the night channeling the dinner’s “Festivals” theme. For their segment, the dancers formed a line and two of them would step up to the front of the stage and portray a different South Asian festival such as “Holi” or “Ganesha Chaturthi.”

Following two opening dance performances, the SACA fashion show gave a glimpse into the fashion of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. According to SACA’s Co-president Oluwatofunmi “Tofunmi” Ayanfodun, SACA’s fashion show was modeled after a Bollywood movie titled “Fashion,” portraying the glitz and glamour of “all kinds of South Asian fashion.”

“Most of the clothes that were worn were traditional attire with a modern twist. For instance, a ‘salwar kameez’ is a traditional outfit, but the design and the look are really dependent on the individual who owns it,” Tofunmi said.

The intermission for the performances doubled as the highlight of the evening: the buffet-style authentic Indian dinner. Attendees wrapped around the walls of the MPR for Poughkeepsie-based Spice Aroma catered chili chicken, naan, chicken tikki masala and other varieties of vegetarian food and desserts.

Other Asian-culture campus clubs such as Jam Asia, the Fobulous Four and the Indo Latino Dance Group also took the stage to show their take on South Asian dancing.

The night ended with an intricate dance preview that will be performed again by a portion of the Nachle dance team at Dance Underground, the yearly showcase of all the SUNY New Paltz dance groups held by the New Paltz Association.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, second-year Crispell Hall government President Payal Batra brought the rest of her Nachle dance mates to the dorm’s main lounge and invited the rest of the hall to a Bollywood-style night of Zumba and henna tattooing.

“We put on this program to promote Indian culture throughout the dorm and get people hyped up about the upcoming dinner,” Batra said. “Before the program started, people saw the Nachle girls practicing and asked where they would be performing. It definitely brought more people to the SACA dinner.”

Batra said the Nachle dance team practiced twice a week in the time leading up to the SACA dinner and two hours a day the week of the event.

“Six of the girls are in both SACA and Nachle, so I was whooped into shape, but it definitely paid off the night of the dinner,” Batra said.

Tofunmi, a fourth-year student, has been a part of SACA for two years and this is her first and last semester co-leading the SACA dinner. Tofunmi said she thinks “Festivals” went well and could have gone better if not for a few technical difficulties during the beginning of the show.

She said SACA reached its target number of attendees, didn’t run out of food and had an all-around good time.

“At some points, we did feel that the cards were stacked against us,” Tonfunmi said. “But we persevered, we succeeded and we put on a good show.”