SAS shows off S. Asian culture

As the holiday season approaches with its many festivals of lights, Yale’s South Asian Society is bringing another vibrant festival of light, albeit one not as widely-known, to the Yale students and surrounding community.

Tonight at 7 p.m. SAS will put on Roshni, a show meant to celebrate South Asian heritage and to make students more aware of the South Asian culture.

“We get few opportunities to show off our culture and we want to show what South Asian culture actually is — void [of] stereotypes — to the Yale community,” SAS Publicity Chairwoman Sailaja Paidipaty ’06 said.

The performance originally began as part of a celebration of the Hindu festival of Diwali, which commemorates the homecoming of the god Rama. Recently, in an attempt to make it more secular, the show was renamed Roshni. Roshni is the Hindi word for light.

“Roshni is a more neutral and a more politically correct word,” said Swati Deshmukh ’06. “Not all South Asians are Hindu.”

Because Deshmukh serves as South Asian Chair on Yale’s College Council for CARE, this year the majority of the proceeds of the show will go to benefit CARE International, a worldwide humanitarian organization. Yale’s College Council for CARE is trying to raise $2,500 to start a primary school in India.

“It’s a great collaboration,” President of College Council for CARE Lauren Thompson ’05 said.

Yale’s college Council for CARE is CARE International’s first college youth program.

“Our goal is to get students involved and aware of the problems affecting developing nations,” Thompson said.

Deshmukh said she is excited that the proceeds from the show will go toward starting the school.

Roshni’s lineup includes a freshmen dance to Indian pop songs and Bollywood music and guitar playing and singing by graduate students. It will also feature a Bharata Natyam dance, a classical South Indian dance that takes many years of training to perfect.

Interspersed with the acts will be poetry readings in different languages like Urdu, Sinhalese and Tamil.

“We tried to choose poems in languages that are not generic,” Paidipaty said.

The Tamil poem is especially relevant, she said, because SAS is trying to make Tamil a credit course at Yale and will pass around petitions at the show.

In addition to Yale undergraduates and graduates, members of the local South Asian community are involved in Roshni as well.

Navin Trivedi, a Hindu priest from Orange, has helped to coordinate Roshni for several years.

“In the temple in India in the evening, the first thing that happens is the ringing of the big bell and the blowing of the conch shell,” said Trivedi. “I will be doing that in the show.”

He described how the Diwali festival marks the Hindu New Year and said this year, Diwali was actually celebrated amongst the Hindus on Oct. 21.

“We are now in the year 2060 of the Hindu calendar,” Trivedi said.

Roshni will be held in the Davenport Dining Hall and a dinner, catered by Royal India, will be served before the show. Tickets are $7 for students beforehand, $8 at the door, and $12 for adults.

Members of the Yale South Asian Society rehearse a dance for their fall show Roshni. Profits made from the dinner and performance will go to the Yale College Council for CARE, which is trying to raise money to build a primary school in India.
Yusef Syed
Members of the Yale South Asian Society rehearse a dance for their fall show Roshni. Profits made from the dinner and performance will go to the Yale College Council for CARE, which is trying to raise money to build a primary school in India.

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