Hundreds attend India Night for a taste of cultural appreciation

Guests from across the Pacific Northwest flock to ISA’s India Night for the first time in two years

The Indian Student Association held a special evening celebrating Indian culture on Sunday. A host of singers, dancers and artists represented their heritage and culture.

India Night is an annual celebration and the biggest ISA event of the year, with hundreds of people coming together to celebrate all Indian cultures. This year the event was held at the Compton Union Building Senior Ballroom.

Decorated with rows of tables, a photo booth set up by ISA from the University of Idaho, and a large stage on the left side of the room, WSU students and community members waltzed into a night of cultural appreciation.

“Normally India Night takes place in the fall during Diwali, … we haven’t had India Night in recent years due to the pandemic, so our advisers suggested we have it in the spring,” said the PhD student. Gurdeep Singh Raina, President (senior contributor) of the Indian Student Association.

Beginning with a speech by ISA Vice President Aditi Dahiya, the evening continued with a five-second minute of silence for Ukraine. At one point early on, everyone in the audience stood up and sang India’s national anthem as the event organizers led the song on stage.

ISA team members delivered speeches before greeting and thanking ISA advisors Dr. Amit Bandyopadhyay and Dr. Susmita Bose.

Before the first performance, Singh explained how India is full of diverse cultures, religions and languages. He said the club were delighted to celebrate his country’s diversity overnight.

“We understood that we cannot dribble in a culture or a religion because India is not a religion,” Singh said. “We are a mixture of many religions and many languages.”

The first performance was given by Bhai Gurpreet Singh Ji, who sang a Sufi song. The music showed appreciation for various religions, from Sikhism to Islam to Christianity, among others.

After the song, a Bharatanatyam dance was performed by Mechanical Engineering graduate student Mamatha Muralidharan. She wore a traditional Hindu sari in vibrant colors.

Performance after performance, representing different Indian communities.

“The most of [the performers] were from Pullman,” Singh said. “Some of the students were from the University of Idaho… [and] outside of Pullman, like Seattle and Spokane. So there is a mix.

While many performances were based on different Indian cultures and songs, some performances took a different route.

After the Bharatanatyam dance, high school student Pullman Aditya Bose-Bandyopadhyay sang “Hotel California” while playing his guitar. Each performance was met with huge applause and love from the audience.

“My favorite performance was the kids, it was so cute,” said Junior Hospitality student Ameya Susarla.

Susarla, who has been attending India Night in Pullman since childhood, loved watching the “Chillar Party,” a group of young children performing a Bollywood dance.

About halfway through the event, food from Karma, an Indian restaurant in Moscow, Idaho, was served and performances would begin later. There were different varieties of foods such as butter chicken, saag, chana masala, naan, biryani rice and gulab jamun, an Indian sweet.

As the performances continued, some started dancing along with the performances such as Bhangra, a Punjabi dance. A band formed towards the back of the room, dancing and infecting the guests with contagious happiness as they clapped proudly.

Throughout the night, ISA team members worked to manage the event and ensure everything ran smoothly, Singh said.

“The big thing that relieves us a lot is that there were several hundred people who enjoyed the show,” he said. “For me, this is our success. We are happy to hear that.

While the team was busy and couldn’t sit down to watch the performances, they were just happy to put on India Night.

“It was teamwork. Everyone was working towards the end goal, which is to have a solid four hours of entertainment,” Singh said. “I think we had around 680 people. We had planned 525-530.

After the night was over, the ISA team stayed behind to clean up as much as they could because, being Indians, they wanted to treat the place as if it were their own home, Singh said.

After that night, Singh said he felt they had raised the bar for next year’s India Night. But for now, he is delighted with the success of this weekend.

James C. Tibbs