SASA’s tenth annual Jalwa Culture and Fashion Show brings South Asia to AU
Event celebrated South Asian music, dance, fashion
Antara Kshettry took the stage as the final solo performance at the South Asian Student Association’s Jalwa. Kshettry’s performance would make audience members be “shook,” hosts Maya Krishnan and Bakhtawar Mirjat warned, and they were shook, indeed. Kshettry began a Bollywood-style dance performance, moving and swaying to a mashup of several different popular item songs, and she was simply radiant. She felt the music, moved with grace and elegance. The audience went wild.
This was just one of the many amazing moments of SASA’s 10th annual Jalwa: AU’s South Asian Culture Show, held Friday in the Tavern. Timed perfectly to coincide with the Indian festival of Diwali and AU’s All-American Weekend, the event featured several cultural performances from a wide variety of South Asian countries, choreographed and put together entirely by the SASA community.
Jalwa aims to share South Asian culture with the AU community, Maya Krishnan, SASA co-vice president and Jalwa co-host, said.
“It’s for our people, but also for our campus,” Krishnan said. “On a campus where diversity is supposed to be appreciated, having an event like this is a great way for people to expand their horizons and just have a good time.”
The night began with unlimited samosas and mango lassi in the Butler Boardroom, two staples of South Asian cuisine. Families, friends and other students alike were present in the Tavern as the show started and hosts Krishnan and Bakhtawar Mirjat hyped up the crowd. Krishnan and Mirjat welcomed the e-board to the stage before the show began. As each e-board member introduced themselves, they all said which country their families were from in South Asia, to much excitement by the audience.
“I love how this event incorporated lots of different cultures,” said Myra Akbar, a student from George Washington University. “I had so much fun tonight. We don’t have something like this at GW.”
According to Krishnan, last year’s Jalwa was very Indian-centric, but this year, they expanded and had a wider variety of South Asian cultures represented. For example, performers took part in various cultural performances, such as Yatin Jain and Abhay Dewan singing and playing guitar to “Jeena Jeena” from the Indian thriller film “Badlapur,” and American Bhangra Crew performing a mix of bhangra music, with roots in Punjab, an area comprising of eastern Pakistan and northern India.
The fashion show, a staple of Jalwa, featured members of SASA donning their traditional garb from their families’ countries of origin. Each member showed off their moves and strutted down the aisle wearing colorful, pattern-filled fashion from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives.
Over the past ten years, Jalwa has become a tradition for those in the South Asian community on campus. Performing in Jalwa and participating in SASA can often provide a sense of a family and security at AU, Krishnan said.
“It’s really nice to have stability on campus,” Krishnan said. “We’re not an association that people know well and it’s nice to put ourselves out there.”
Kshettry, one of the dancers, agreed. A sophomore in the School of International Service who was born in India and attended an international school in Singapore, she said that she watched Jalwa last year and decided she wanted to be part of it.
By performing in this year’s Jalwa, Kshettry said she was able to share her passion for her culture’s dance traditions with others.
“Dancing is something I love,” she said. “I had such a stressful week and it felt amazing to let it go and dance.”
From being a creative outlet for South Asian students to establishing lifelong bonds between its participants, Jalwa shows no sign of stopping after ten years. This tradition will hopefully continue on for many years to come. Kshettry said she hopes that AU students come out to future Jalwas, as well.
“It’s really important to come to events like this because it’s another way to learn about and expose yourself to the world around you,” Kshettry said. “There are so many cultures and subcultures out there and we are proud to represent them.”