Thundering drumbeats, fast-paced dancing and glittering costumes were all part of the Mela festivities that took place last Saturday in Strong Auditorium. The auditorium was overflowing, with nearly a third of the campus in attendance. Many had trouble finding seats, and the performance was delayed 30 minutes as crowds attempted to find a place to sit before the show began. It was worth the wait.

From the beginning, it was a celebration of Southeast Asian culture at its best. It began with a fashion show, with an array of Indian dress from different regions of the country, and continued with an impressive display of percussion and a traditional dance with sticks called Dandia.

Next was a traditional dance ? Batu Nritya ? performed solo, adding a nice variation to the program. The ever-popular Bhangra came soon after, as crowds cheered with enthusiasm for the dancers onstage, whirling in brightly colored garb to the beat of the music. The event was also smoothly emceed by two members of the Association for the Development of Interest in the Indian Subcontinent, with amusing film clips that kept the audience laughing in between skits.

There was the Bata slipper commercials, “How to Be a Non-Desi Player” ? in which a white boy learns how to attract Indian women ? and the ladoo eating competition to add to the fun. More dances continued, keeping the performance lively and spirited and two students kept things interesting as well, with a traditional weapons display.

The best was, I believe, saved for last. The UR Bhangra team took the stage for the finale of the performance, amid overwhelming audience applause. UR proved there is spirit in us as we clapped to the beat of the dancers onstage and their impressive performance. It was understandable why the team has been chosen as one of the best in the country.

The dance itself was mesmerizing?the program described it as having “tremendous energy, grace and rhythm,” and I cannot think of better words to describe it. There was a standing ovation when the dance came to an end, and anyone who was not a fan of bhangra before was made into one. A dinner of Indian food followed in Douglass, and to celebrate, the Meltdown party took place at 11 p.m. at Mandarin Buffet. The show was unforgettable and truly one of the best campus traditions we have ? which everyone should take advantage of and enjoy.

Linden can be reached at

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