AU’s SASA hosts annual Jalwa Show
“Zoom Machale” celebrates South Asian diaspora virtually
American University’s South Asian Student Association hosted their annual Jalwa event in October, named Zoom Machale for this year’s virtual show, to celebrate the South Asian diaspora.
SASA organized a simultaneous Facebook Live and Zoom event on Oct. 23, where student performances were recorded and played for the attendees to watch. Performances included an Irish step dance by sophomore Vikram Lakshmanan, a classic Bollywood song sung by Mihika Gokarn and a fashion show featuring traditional South Asian outfits.
“I think the turnout was great, and people seemed to really have a great time together,” said senior Prachi Jhawar, SASA’s vice president. “It was a fun event for people to have in the middle of this stressful midterms week and anxious election time.”
To accommodate the online setting, SASA’s team had to change the event structure to make sure it was successful. In previous years, SASA organized food and decorations for the 300-plus students that attended.
“I think we had to consider different things this year,” SASA President Summia Mahmud said. “We wanted to make sure everyone had access to our event, so we opted for Facebook Live and Zoom.”
Mahmud said the group worked with the Center for Student Involvement to ensure that the event was secure as well.
In terms of preparation, SASA decided early on that they were still going to host the event via Zoom. Jhawar created the theme, “Zoom Machale,” a wordplay on the popular Bollywood song “Dhoom Machale.” This original song was also played during the show as background music.
“It was really catchy and marketable too,” said SASA’s chair events coordinator Satvik Shukla. “And that is when we started focusing heavily on social media promotion, creating online posters, and doing Instagram story takeovers.”
SASA’s creative director Vidisha Banerjee pitched the idea of creating a TikTok, which was a new form of digital marketing for SASA, and saw many more students engaged as a result.
Initially, one of the challenges SASA organizers faced was getting student submissions for the video in time for the event.
“Originally we had Jalwa planned for the Friday of AU Family Week, but at that point, we only had two performances, so [we] postponed it to the 23rd,” Mahmud said. “That gave an extension to those who wanted to submit videos and us more time to promote Jalwa.”
When asked what Jalwa meant to them, Mahmud said, “It really means community; as the South Asian population continues to grow at AU, we are able to come together to celebrate our history and diaspora even if it is online.”
SASA will continue to host events throughout the year including a trivia night, advocacy and activist events and conversations.
For students that may be hesitant about getting involved with SASA, Jhawar said, “We will welcome you with open arms. You do not have to be South Asian to join SASA, if you want to learn more about South Asian culture, come to our events. Everyone from all backgrounds is always welcome.”