UR’s South Asian Expo, sponsored by the Association for Development of Interest in the Indian Subcontinent, is a delightfully sweet flavor of culture that leaves one tasting colors and chana masala for days to come. The shindig is an annual event run by the co-cultural chairs of the ADITI executive board and is dedicated to the promotion of awareness of and education about South-Asian culture.

Delicious and addicting Indian cuisine is graciously available from Thali of India and guests are able to meander from one informational booth to the next, spanning a total of 10 booths. Facts are provided on a wide variety of important cultural aspects, such as Hinduism, fashion, statistics, pop culture, literature, politics and even a fun table dedicated to mehendi, or henna designs.

This year, the Expo took place on Saturday, Nov. 15 and sported the theme of ‘South Asians Today.” Unlike years past, when the focus rested upon a journey through South Asia’s historical past, this new theme promoted a much more modern look at the growth, development and expansion of today’s South-Asian generation. ADITI wanted to emphasize what was occurring in today’s time.

The event began at 2 p.m. with an active and fresh fashion show that displayed modern-day male and female fashion in South Asia, spanning from traditional wear to more contemporary outfits. Some traditional women’s wear that were modeled included exquisite saris and vibrant salwar kameezes. Going along with this year’s theme, a more forward approach to the salwar kameez was displayed with the model donning a salwar top over a pair of skinny jeans. Some of the males displayed ostentatious shirvanis and classy kurtas.

‘We are not looking to make a profit or sell anything (which is why the event is free),” Vice-President of ADITI and junior Niranjani Thuppal, who played a major role in the planning of this year’s event, said. ‘We just wanted to increase awareness about our culture. This is why the booths are so important for Expo and why we are constantly encouraging the audience to go to the booths they are the main way in which we are giving the information.”

Each year, ADITI’s executive board strives to increase the interaction between those working the booths and the audience at Expo by making each booth unique and appealing to a certain aspect of the culture. This year’s booths included features about present-day South-Asian politics in the form of Jeopardy, salient athletic icons, various genres of music spanning from classical to fusion, South-Asian artwork and media figures, a brief presentation of the South Asian film industries such as Bollywood and Lollywood, a display about the contributions of well-known economist Muhammad Yunnus, Mehindi, Hindu mythology and an informational poster on the flood in Bihar, India, where donations were generously being accrued for charity organizations.

‘I think the booths did a really good job presenting the facts in an informative and interactive manner,” one of ADITI’s co-cultural chairs and sophomore Ankita Agarwal said. ‘For example, the art booth taught students about traditional Indian artwork known as Rangoli and let the audience make their own mini-versions through sand-art. It teaches and reinforces their learning and makes it fun. Expo was definitely a tremendous success.”

Performances included UR Raas and Bhangra, who recently received first and second places respectively at the Muqabla South Asian Dance Competition held at the University of Buffalo on Nov. 8, making the University honored and proud to support such hard-working groups.

The Bhangra team displayed its new routine with precision and vigor, as the team members filled every inch of the stage with energy. The costumes glowed as the students radiated across the stage for over seven minutes. The Raas team, which will be holding try-outs on Sunday Nov. 23, danced brightly with confidence as they upheld their recent victory at Muqabla. The routine included a pot dance, in which the dancers gracefully weaved in and out of one another, each spinning a silver pot.

Other performances included an energetic freshmen dance, choreographed and performed by new ADITI members, a beautiful vocal rendition of a popular Indian song, ‘Maar Daala,” from the Bollywood movie, ‘Devdas,” by freshman Tonima Quabili, and a witty and entertaining skit about the quest of junior Guatam Sharma seeking to become the next Bollywood actor.

Sophomore Maura Rapkin commented on the performances.

‘They were colorful, cultural combinations that were entertaining and informative,” Rapkin said. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the intensity and liveliness exerted through the dance teams onto the audience members. I can’t wait for next year’s Expo!”

The South Asian Expo event is crucial in the education and appreciation for the South-Asian culture that is so prevalent at this university. Each year, more students express interest in attending the event to further their awareness.

‘I would definitely consider the event a success,” Thuppal said. ‘There were at least 200 to 300 people there, and I think many people learned a lot of new things.”

Miller is a member of the class of 2011.

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