Hundreds attend India Night for a taste of cultural appreciation

Guests from across the Pacific Northwest flock to ISA’s India Night for first time in two-years

Mamatha+preforms+Bharatanatyam+dance+during+India+Night%2C+April+17.

BECCA WALKER

Mamatha preforms Bharatanatyam dance during India Night, April 17.

PUNEET BSANTI

The Indian Student Association put together a special night celebrating Indian culture on Sunday. A bevy of singers, dancers and entertainers represented their heritage and culture performed.

India Night is an annual celebration and ISA’s largest event of the year, with hundreds of people coming together to celebrate every Indian culture. This year, the event took place at the Compton Union Building Senior Ballroom.

Decorated with rows of tables, a photo booth set up by ISA from the University of Idaho and a large stage on the left side of the room, WSU students and community members waltzed into a night of cultural appreciation.

“Normally India Night happens in the fall during Diwali, … we didn’t have India Night for the last few years because of the pandemic, so our advisors suggested we have it during the spring,” said doctoral student Gurdeep Singh Raina, president (chief co-worker) of the Indian Student Association.

Starting with a speech by ISA Vice President Aditi Dahiya, the night moved on to a five-second moment of silence for Ukraine. At one point in the beginning, everyone in the audience stood up and sang the national anthem of India as organizers of the event led the song on stage.

Members of the ISA team gave speeches before recognizing and thanking the ISA advisors, Dr. Amit Bandyopadhyay and Dr. Susmita Bose.

Before the first performance, Singh talked about how India is full of various cultures, religions and languages. He said the club is excited to celebrate their diverse country during the night.

“We understood we cannot dribble into one culture or one religion because India is not one religion,” Singh said. “We are a mix of many religions and many languages.”

The first performance was by Bhai Gurpreet Singh Ji, who sang a Sufi song. The music showed appreciation of various religions from Sikhism to Islam to Christianity, among others.

After the song, a Bharatanatyam dance was performed by Mamatha Muralidharan, mechanical engineering graduate student. She wore a traditional Hindu sari with vibrant colors.

Performance after performance commenced representing different Indian communities.

“Most of [the performers] were from Pullman,” Singh said. “Some of the students were from the University of Idaho … [and] outside of Pullman, like Seattle and Spokane. So there’s a mix.”

While many of the performances were based on different Indian cultures and songs, some performances took a different route.

After the Bharatanatyam dance, Pullman high school student Aditya Bose-Bandyopadhyay sang “Hotel California” while playing his guitar. Each performance met immense applause and love from the audience.

“My favorite performance was the kids, that was so cute,” said Ameya Susarla, junior hospitality major.

Susarla, who has been going to India Night in Pullman since she was a kid, loved watching the “Chillar Party,” a group of young children who performed a Bollywood dance.

Towards the middle of the event, food from Karma, an Indian restaurant in Moscow, Idaho, was served and performances would commence later on. There were different varieties of food such as butter chicken, saag, chana masala, naan, biryani rice and gulab jamun, an Indian sweet.

As performances continued, some started dancing along to the performances such as the Bhangra, a Punjabi dance. A group formed towards the back of the room, dancing and infecting the guests with contagious happiness as they cheered in pride.

Throughout the night, members of the ISA team worked to manage the event and oversee that everything ran smoothly, Singh said.

“The great thing that gives us great relief is that there were several hundreds of people who enjoyed the show,” he said. “That to me, that’s our success. We are happy hearing that.”

While the team kept busy and could not sit back to watch the performances, they were just happy putting on India Night.

“It was a team effort. Everyone was working towards the end goal, which is to have a good four hours of entertainment,” Singh said. “I think we had around 680 people. We had planned 525-530.”

After the night ended, the ISA team stayed to clean up as much as they could because, being Indians, they wanted to treat the venue as if it was their own house, Singh said.

After this night, Singh said he feels they raised the bar for next year’s India Night. But for now, he is delighted with the success of this weekend.