Telling The Real Stories

The better of being a proud Indian: Aikytha Night 2017

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On Nov. 18, 2017, the India Student Organization hosted Aikytha or India night and there are only three words that can describe such an event: colorful, exciting and creative. As you walk into the Atwood Ballroom you are surrounded by a feeling of friendliness and overall positive energy, and that never dimmed once throughout your time there. The evening was made up of dancing, food, fun and enthusiastic vibes, that as an audience member, it makes you feel as if you were in India that very night.

This was the idea the organization had gone off of when the whole event was staged as a flight simulator. When the audience has arrived into “India,” right away we started to witness the culture of the country. Creatively, they expressed their traditions with a story of a couple, one from northern India and the other from southern India, and their desire to get married to each other. They pointed out that this type of issue is actually very common due to tradition and cultural differences between the two regions. To add a little lightheartedness to the situation, however, both of the lover’s families had argued over which side was more superior.

The first event to arise was the customary dance styles of both of the territories. From the north, the dance was very intricate and detail oriented. The dancer was making note of where every piece of her body and although she did not move around stage very often, from her fingertips all the way down to her ankles her entire body was fully engaged. Opposing from that, the south presented a more modern performance. This entertainer moved more frequently across the stage and was more fluid with her moves. While her body was engaged, it contrasts with the northern Indian’s small complex movements as her moves seemed more free-spirited. Both were impressive in each of their own ways and that’s what made the performances so enjoyable to watch.

A mother and daughter enjoy their evening at India night on Nov. 18, 2017. Photo by Chelsea Bauman

Following this later on during the night, a traditional Indian meal was offered to everyone in the ballroom and to summarize the experience: it was by far one of the best meals I have ever had. The effort and thought that the organization and cooks had put into the dinner were evident, for every piece of food was unique to the other. The use of spices and the variety of flavors is what made the spread unforgettable and was a staple portion of the evening.

The most important part that was taken away from the night, however, was the indication of cultural education and acceptance that was felt throughout all of the audience.

Towards the beginning of the experience, St. Cloud State University’s President, Ashish Vaidya, who is Indian American, had attended the event to express his words about how cultural nights such as these really enhance what the university is all about.

“It’s the cultural events that showcase the importance of diversity on our campus. Diversity and including others a strength of ours, and it’s times like these that we are able to express the importance of multicultural recognition,” Vaidya said.

This feeling of acceptance and recognition has its own impacts on the students of St. Cloud State University as well. Freshman Susma Kunwor said it is important for students to be educated on other cultures.

Table decorations were on display throughout the Atwood ballroom to represent Indian culture. Photo by Chelsea Bauman

“I have been to other colleges where your culture is not represented more, so it’s more western culture based. When others know more about your culture and other [cultures] as well, you feel more like you’re at home and you feel more welcomed,” Kunwor said.

Education of other countries and civilizations has been a common theme that the university has been working towards improving. Cultural nights and events like these open up opportunities for those to broaden their perspectives. For international students, these affairs make them feel more comfortable in a society that they may not be so used to.

To conclude the night, the performers of the India Student Organization wanted to leave one last impression of what India is all about. The students had thrown together a skit of Indians believing in different religions – from Christianity all the way to Muslim. As the country’s flag was waved, the saying “The Better of Being a Proud Indian” was spoken by the organization’s president and had delivered the message of religious tolerance in India.

See the full photo gallery here.

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