By Katherine Tercek
[Images courtesy of Elyse Breeze]
Celebrating the cultural traditions of Diwali, St. Bonaventure University ASIA (Asian Students in Action) put on their annual Diwali show on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Diwali, or the “Festival of Lights,” is a Hindu festival celebrated all over South Asia every year. It represents the victory of good over evil, which is extended to light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. It is a bright colorful celebration that the whole town or village partakes in.
“Diwali is an important time to spend with family and go back to your roots,” said Sameer Singhal a senior biology major and co-president of ASIA. “It is a time to remember that good wins over evil and to remember to pay respect for not only the good in life, but the good people, and knowledge as well. We also place a heavy emphasis on prayer, as it is an incredibly auspicious time.”
Wednesday’s show “Kahaani: An Adventure Through Asia” told the story of royal newlyweds Prince Peter and Princess Megan and evil villain Usman. Usman steals Megan away to profess his love for her, and Peter has to dance his way through different Asian countries to find her.
The ten performances incorporated traditional Indian dances such as Bollywood, Kathak/Garba and Bhangra. SBU Step Team and SBU Hip Hop also made a guest appearance in several dances.
“We have been involved with ASIA performances for many years, and we always have them dance for us in our shows because we appreciate their dance styles and love to watch them,” said Meaghan Tederous, a senior english and adolescent education major and the captain of the SBU Hip Hop team. “I think it says a lot about St. Bonaventure as a University when such different clubs practice and collaborate for different events to support one another’s efforts.”
Each dance had a different theme, song and costume.
“We also added cultural facts throughout the show about the places the characters went. We incorporate elements of traditional music and clothing, but then fused them with more familiar American contemporary culture,” said Jaisree Ayer, a senior biology major and a member of ASIA. “Asian culture is rapidly becoming more westernized but still maintains its traditions, and we thought we were able to reflect that to some extent.”
“We have been practicing since the semester started, and it has really paid off,” said Vivien Pat a junior biology major and member of ASIA. She performed in the Korean Pop dance.
After the show, there were refreshments up in the Loft. Students in ASIA served traditional Asian food such as: Papad, thin and flat pieces of bread; Samosa, mixed vegetables and potatoes with a breaded shell; pakoras, mixed vegetables that are breaded and fried; chili paneer, cheese and peppers in a spicy gravy; and unfermented cheese called paneer that is fried and soaked in a sugar syrup called gulab jamun.
“The food was actually from a restaurant in Buffalo called Taste of India. The food didn’t really have much cultural significance per se, but consisted of favorites of many Indians,” said Singhal. “We know that we enjoyed this type of food and it would be something that people at St. Bonaventure would really enjoy.”