Pakistan Night draws in unexpected crowd

Five men and five women danced on stage in front of an acting bride and groom Saturday at Pakistan Night. Photo by Alec Kasper-Olson.
Five men and five women danced on stage in front of an acting bride and groom Saturday at Pakistan Night. Photo by Alec Kasper-Olson.

About 400 people attended Pakistan Night in the Atwood Ballroom Saturday evening. The agenda included a line up of dozens of performers from four different student organizations.

A steady applause and cheers rang through the room as the numerous cultural performances drew attention to the stage.

In between performances, moderators Warda Saif and Ismail Waseem took the audience through Pakistan culture, history and the diversity that Pakistan offers the world.

Performers practiced behind a standing curtain while the stage was being readied for them.

Some women wore hijabs, while the men were formally dressed in salwar kameez.

Dancing, swaying and moving to the music, cheers sounded from the audience and supporters standing on the side of the room.

Moving closer to 8 p.m., Moderator Areej Zahra began walking the audience through what a wedding could look like in the Pakistan culture.

Going through a brief presentation and video, a dance performance followed, dedicating the stage to five men and five women. The performers went through their routine, while the acting bride and groom sat on a bench on stage.

Around 8:30 p.m., a dinner was brought in. People formed a line that stretched along the back of the ballroom.

“It’s amazing,” said Rakesh Khamuani, president of the Pakistan Student Association. “You don’t always get this opportunity easily. “

He expected only about 150 people to show up to the event, he said, busily directing people.

“We got this opportunity,” he said, explaining that planning for the culture event started around May. “We worked hard on it.”

Promoting and teaching about the Pakistani culture seemed like a tough goal with only 12 members of the student organization, he said. With help from other student organizations, friends and other who aren’t from Pakistan, he said it was a “team effort.”

The event was scheduled until 8:30 p.m., but people were still waiting for food at that time.

One of two chefs, San Jesh, said getting the recipes together took time, but they only began preparing the day before. They planned to feed 500 people.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Warda Saif, one of the main moderators of the evening. She explained that Pakistan is seen as a religious country, saying it has a “tough image” right now.

But, the smaller country has influence all over the world and is highly diverse, she said.

Helping guide the audience through Pakistani culture and history, Saif’s led the event with Ismail Waseem.

Waseem, building manager for the Atwood Memorial Center, said it was the first evening he’s seen the ballroom with that many people.

“What made it so great was everybody coming together,” he continued. “It was people from so many different cultures.”

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