The Brandeis South Asian Students Association (SASA) recently hosted their 25th annual cultural show Mela, featuring speeches, dancing, singing, food and more to celebrate South Asian culture. The theme for this year was Yatra, a Malayalam word that means journey. SASA described their goals for this show, saying, “Our hope is that this theme beautifully illustrates how our shared journeys have allowed us to share community and culture in a space that is representative of our ranging South Asian roots,” according to the program description.
The program started with a speech delivered by Dean of Students Monique Pillow Gnanaratnam. During the first half of the show, students performed classical South Asian dances, read poetry and sang contemporary South Asian songs. The first-year members of the organization and the sophomores each performed their class dance. Following these performances, Brandeis’ Bollywood fusion group Chak De performed. Chak De utilizes many dance forms and cultures, such as Bollywood, Bhangra, classical Indian dance, hip-hop and contemporary forms, according to their club description. This year’s Mela also raised money to support people struggling during the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
The second half of the show featured a speech from SASA presidents Vishni Samaraweera ‘23, Jigar Gohel ‘23 and Asanya Wawlagala ‘23. Additionally, students celebrated South Asian clothing by partaking in a fashion show. Brandeis also hosted the Harvard College Bhangra team, which is Harvard University’s leading competitive undergraduate Bhangra team. The junior and senior classes also performed their class dance, and the Nepali community at Brandeis also performed a traditional dance. The show featured a final singing act and concluded with closing remarks. The Brandeis community celebrated Mela through catered South Asian cuisine afterward.