By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Audience members were dazzled by the color and beauty of the culture of India on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the University of Oklahoma India Student Association’s Diwali Nite “Rangoli”. The national anthem of India filled the auditorium of the Reynolds Performing Arts Center and audience members shouted a closing “jaya he!”
To kick off the event Dhanya Dharma Rajan, India Student Association president, introduced ISA advisor, Dr. Sridhar Radhakrishnan who said he had been to 24 Diwali celebrations.
“Ever year I look forward to this night,” Radhakrishnan said.
Diwali Nite is a festival of lights that traditionally symbolizes the victory of good over evil and rebirth. Dr. Rebecca Cruise, OU assistant professor of International and Area Studies and who was honored at the event, said the night would provide attendees with more insight into India culture.
“We will see the differences but we will also see the similarities...using light and candles as a way to celebrate rebirth is very universal. Let’s recognize our similarities though this celebration,” Cruise said.
With dance, song, skits and even trivia, the night was truly a celebration of India. The first dance of the night was the mesmerizing “Diya Dance,” which involved nine dancers clad in bright orange and red dancing with small tea candles. Next performers acted out a skit called “Modern Day Ramayan” which was followed by a “Shailla Fushion Dance” performed by three giggling, smiling little girls, Sudhiksha Sasikumar, Ananya Iyengar and Akshara Sakthivel.
A tribute to Govinda, a famous Indian actor, came next followed by a few more modern Indian dance performances and a singing performance of “Where’s the Party Tonight?” After a classical dance by Debaroti Ghosh, the evening concluded with a big group Tollywood performance, which is a part of India cinema similar to Bollywood, called “Randaka”.
Event attendees, Miaw Fukuda, OU physics grad student, and Ross Hallren, OU economics grad student, said “Randaka” was their favorite performance of the night.
“I really liked it because it was colorful and traditional,” Fukuda said.
Overall, the night was relaxed and full of happiness as audience members laughed, sang along to songs and clapped to the beat of their favorite songs. Audience members said the most captivating part of the performances was the performer’s ever-changing facial expressions and the intricate hand movements.
Ghosh, performer and OU civil engineering grad student, said the reason she took part in Diwali Nite is because she really misses her culture.
“I really love dance, and this is a chance to do that and connect with my culture,” Ghosh said.
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