Madelyn Kumar

On Saturday, Nov. 3, members of the Yale and New Haven communities came together for Roshni — an annual showcase of South Asian culture held in Woolsey Hall. The event celebrated the diversity of South Asian culture through vibrant performances of song and dance.

This year’s event had 11 acts, including performances by dance groups Yale Jashan Bhangra, Yale Rangeela, MonstRAASity and The Yale Kalaa. Roshni also featured dance numbers representing members of each Yale College class, a dance by graduate students as well as singing performances.

“We want this event to be an invitation to explore South Asian culture, allow people to see what is beautiful about it and open and broaden perspectives,” said Siddarth Shankar ’22, a First-Year Liaison in the Yale South Asian Society who helped to plan Roshni. “I think Roshni’s important because it’s an affirmation that our culture is valued and respected and appreciated in a place like [Yale].”

Shankar added that Roshni serves as a “good way to demonstrate the vitality of the South Asian community to the entire undergraduate and graduate population.”

According to Nandan Patel ’21, co-cultural chair of SAS, there can be a lack of awareness of the South Asian community at Yale, but Roshni helps to “bridge that gap.”

Preparations for Roshni began last year. Patel and Bhavesh Sayal ’21, the co-cultural heads of SAS, organized the event with the help of SAS board. Patel noted the importance of publicizing the event — he highlighted the fact that Roshni “isn’t only for students at Yale, but [is] also for the larger New Haven community.”

Choreographers and South Asian dance groups began working on their Roshni performances at the beginning of the academic year.

“It was a rough start since it was my first time choreographing,” said Janvi Trivedi ’20, one of the choreographers for MonstRAASity. “But once five minutes into the choreographing session occurs, you get this creative switch, and it just starts flowing — it’s a really interesting and rewarding experience.”

According to Tanvi Yende ’22, who is in Yale Jashan Bhangra, preparations involved a “steep learning curve” for the group, as many members had little experience with the bhangra dance form. Yende said the captains ensured that the participants were well prepared for Saturday’s performance.

“There’s definitely some element of nerves, but I think generally people are really excited,” said Yende. “It’s just really nice to have a group of people you can relate to about a lot of stuff — it’s nice to have that sort of piece of home when we’re here at Yale.”

The show involved short-spoken interludes by two emcees: Sara Thakur ’22 and Pranav Avasarala ’22. The pair used a comical script that poked fun at both the South Asian and Yale communities. Shankar said that the script showed how the intersection of both groups was “a powerful thing that could be used in a meaningful way.”

“I was astounded by all the different acts,” said audience member Jacob Earle ’22. “My favorites were the ones with the super high-energy, traditional-modern fusion dances.”

Earle said he was particularly intrigued by the dance number “Natya Mandalam,” which he said revealed how “religion could be interwoven within a dance.”

The first Roshni showcase took place in 2002.

Freya Savla | freya.savla@yale.edu .