Kamini Purushothaman, Contributing Photographer

A one-man juggling show surprisingly captivated a packed audience at Woolsey Hall this weekend: Arnav Narula ’25 was masterfully handling five balls with hit Hindi song Desi Boyz in the background. 

He was one of dozens of performers who took to the stage on Saturday for the South Asian Society’s largest annual cultural show, Roshni. Taking its name from the Sanskrit word for “light,” the showcase illuminated South Asian creativity on campus. Featuring the groups like a cappella group Avaaz and classical singers Dhvani as well as dance groups ranging like Jashan Bhangra, Kalaa, MonstRAASity and Rangeela, the showcase celebrated South Asia’s diversity.  

“Every year, we end up getting a packed Woolsey Hall with so many diverse faces,” said Avaaz member Ojas Mehta ’25. “I love how all the groups come together at the same time.” Concluding, he added that “Everyone always cheers really loudly for all of the other groups. There’s no sense of real rivalry.”

In fact, the only rivalry at Saturday’s showcase was the friendly competition between classes. A time-honored tradition, each class performed their own choreography before the audience voted for a winner at the show’s conclusion. This year, the class of ’27 garnered the most audience-votes with their dance performance to “Ainvayi” and “Sauda Khara Khara.” 

Emphasizing the collaborative nature of the showcase, Maanasi Nair ’25, co-captain for classical dance group Kalaa and modern Bollywood dance group Rangeela, lauded her teammates’ efforts and the enthusiasm of her friends in the audience. She described it as a “mix of nerves, laughter and excitement that’s so fun.”

“I love being part of the whole production of such a large event that celebrates my culture,” said Nair. “I feel honored to be able to contribute in the form of dance or music and the experience itself is so rewarding.” 

Every year, Nair participates in Roshni and another annual SAS-organized showcase, Dhamaal. She noted the several aspects that must come together to put on shows of this size. From weekly dance practices to music and costume curation, the rehearsal process spans the month before and culminates in the show’s tech week. During this week, performers practice every day leading up to the show, working to perfect details and smoothen transitions.

Throughout the show, performers embraced both classical Indian art forms and contemporary music, sometimes simultaneously.

Individual performances included Narula’s juggling act and a traditional Bharatanatyam performance by Riddhi Pankhadiwala, a Hindi Fullbright Scholar at Yale. The audience erupted into applause after MonstRAASity took the stage in vibrantly-colored attire to perform Indian folk dance.

Two South Asian music groups take stage for second year of performances

Taking their name from the Hindi word for “voice,” Avaaz is an all-gender acapella group that blends South Asian songs with popular western music. 

According to Meher Sethi ’25, being part of Avaaz and SAS as a whole makes him feel welcomed and “at home” because he knows he can access the space for “cultural and artistic expression,” he said. 

As the show concluded, the participating South Asian groups cheered for each other while audience members chatted eagerly and congratulated their friends who had performed. 

“I love sharing a stage with such good energy amongst my teammates,” said Nair. “I’m so thankful for the community these events bring together.”

The Yale South Asian Society’s next showcase, Dhamaal, will take place in March 2024.

Kamini Purushothaman covers Arts and New Haven. A first-year student in Trumbull College, she is majoring in History.