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AU’s South Asian community celebrated food, music and fashion at Jalwa

South Asian Student Association hosted its annual cultural event spotlighting student talent

The American University South Asian Student Association (SASA) hosted its annual cultural event, Jalwa, on Nov. 5 at the Washington College of Law, bringing together students and alumni for a night of talent and fun. The night was themed “Lights, Camera, Action,” complete with movie posters and film decor, setting the stage for a lineup of performers.

From dances and songs to a fashion show showcasing traditional South Asian attire, there was something for everyone in the audience to enjoy and applaud. The full house audience was buzzing with anticipation to see the performances.

“We’re here to offer the stage to people in the community to show off their talents – and of course, dress up and eat good food,” said Vishwa Bhatt, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-emcee for the night along with Sriman Thangaraj, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs. 

Students in SASA who participated in Jalwa are from different parts of the South Asian Diaspora, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives, said Bhatt and Thangaraj in their opening remarks. The event was open to SASA alumni and other AU community members who wanted to partake in celebrating South Asian culture.

“I think the food stands out, and I think that’s a big part of why non-Brown people or non-Asian people come, which is good. I think the music is also why,” said SPA sophomore Anusha Mathur, a member of SASA and performer in the fashion show portion of Jalwa.  

Jalwa began with buffet-style food from Spice-6 catering, which according to the restaurant’s Instagram, is “a fast-casual take on Indian cuisine.” 

The night also hosted a diverse group of student performers. The first performance was AU Agni — the first premier fusion dance team on campus — followed by Chaytanya Kumar, who showcased a rap performance. K-District, AU’s K-pop dance team, danced to three songs at the event, and SASA’s co-president Darshi Ambani performed a solo dance. A duet in Tamil, the native language of parts of southern India and Sri Lanka, was performed by Tejasvi Hariharan and Arpitha Sistla. Meera Swaminathan, a member of AU Agni, also performed a solo dance to a Tamil song. 



The final singer of the night was Kruttika Gopal accompanied by Hanish Immanuel, who sang an emotional ballad. To round out the performances, American Bhangra Crew — which is open to Punjabi and non-Punjabi students — kept the energy high with a dance that got the entire crowd cheering. 

Students within SASA also got the opportunity to show off their traditional South Asian attire in a fashion show. The crowd cheered on participants as they walked in pairs across the stage to a song of their choice.

Jalwa concluded with an open dance floor where attendees were able to come together and dance to a combination of South Asian and American music. 

Each group and performer at the Jalwa celebration put hard work into ensuring the diverse talents would educate event attendees on South Asian culture and provide a positive, fun experience. 

“I had a lot of fun at Jalwa, and felt a strong sense of community tonight,” said Mahita Dasu, a sophomore in the School of Communication.

hlangenfeld@theeagleonline.com and samanthamyers@theeagleonline.com 


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