International Day showcases Indian dance, cuisine

Dancers show off Indian fashion.

Alexander Kim, Staff Writer

On one day students watched Bollywood dances; the next, they ate peanut chikki and wore intricate henna designs. From Wednesday, Jan. 20 to Thursday, Jan. 21, the South Asian Affinity Group and the International Club joined forces to celebrate India.

Usually International Club handles all festivities for International Day, but the affinity group (SAAG) hosted the assembly on Wednesday because of its direct link to India. During the assembly, SAAG members performed a traditional tabla drum song and two Bollywood dances.

“We decided it was a great opportunity to combine with SAAG to create one big celebration,” International Club sponsor Aline Means said.

On Thursday, Flores Hall was decked in student-made posters as tall wedding columns stood by the entrance. Miniature flags of India surrounded the Great Lawn.

During lunch, International Club hosted traditional Indian dances which students were encouraged to join. Along with the decorations and dances, International Club set up a henna booth and a library display case of Indian artifacts. Parents handed out appetizers such as samosas with mint and tamarind chutney.

“All of these things have some sort of traditional root. We may not be professionals, but when students see their own peers doing henna, it can make that culture more accessible,” said International Club leader Sunnie Liu, who trained in henna for International Day. “Learning henna allowed me to get more involved in culture rather than being passive.”

As the Indian national anthem played, students in ceremonial Indian clothing walked down the aisles in Flores Hall. Afterwards, music continued to play loudly from speakers around the cafeteria and Great Lawn.

“I liked the way that they paraded people in Indian clothes with the traditional music and dance,” freshman Walker Black said. “I think the dances on both Wednesday and Thursday were amazing.”

The lunch menu offered Indian dishes such as saag paneer, chana masala, chicken tikka masala and naan. Guest chef James Thomas helped organize the menu and buy ingredients.

“Indian cooking was something that I’ve never done a lot of. It was very interesting to work with Thomas and see the finished product,” chef Willard Ferrell said. ‘We talked a lot particularly about the sauces and the herbs.”

With their affinity group incorporated in International Day, SAAG members found a more thorough way to celebrate Indian customs.

“SAAG hosting International Day with International Club allowed us to show off our culture,” sophomore SAAG member Sachin Jaggi said.