Indian Students Association host India Night

Students practice a dance routine for the upcoming India Night celebration. The event will be Saturday, April 14 at the LaSelles Stewart Center.

Elizabeth Weigers, News Contributor

Largest on-campus cultural event celebrates diversity.

On Saturday, April 14, the LaSells Stewart Center will be filled with Indian music, dancing and food as the India Students Association bring the highlights of their culture to Oregon State University during India Night.

India Night is OSU’s largest on-campus cultural event, as well as the largest event hosted by the ISA, said Sneha Sinha, who joined the association last year. The ISA has had this event consistently for a number of years. It is a way for Indian students to show the diversity of their culture.

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“I’ve always been interested in Indian culture. When I was little I would go to cultural programs in Portland, so when I came to college I wanted to find that Indian community here,” Sinha said. “OSU doesn’t have a big Indian population, so it was really hard to find Indian friends. I joined the Bhangra dance team first and from there was recruited to ISA. It’s always been a big deal to me. My parents are first- generation immigrants.”

Nidhi Pai, the event coordinator for ISA who was the only Indian in her high school graduating class, is disappointed with the lack of diversity at OSU. This is what led her to the association.

“I didn’t grow up around a lot of Indians, and I thought that would change when I came to college, but OSU doesn’t have a lot of Indians either, so it’s always been really important to me to encourage diversity and promote our culture,” Pai said.

Jasnit Tiwana, another student member of the association, said she joined ISA a year ago because it’s fulfilling for her to be able to learn more about her country, and share that knowledge with others with events like Diwali, the festival of lights, and India Night.

“India is such a diverse country, and getting to know about other cultures within it through other students at OSU was something that I wanted to do in the association,” Tiwana said.

The association is doing their best to showcase the broad diversity of India with India Night, Sneha said. Each singing and dancing performance comes from a different region.

“India is a place with so many different languages, so many different religions and so many different sects,” Sinha said. “There’s no one way to say, ‘This is what India is,’ so we’re really doing our best to show that India is really unique because so much is different. We’re doing all that we can to put that into one night.”

Pai said it is a family-friendly event that’s structured in a way where students, faculty and families can all enjoy the performances put on by OSU students and fresh food prepared by members of the ISA. She mentioned it’s an empowering feeling to be able to share where she comes from with others.

“It’s a student-led organization, just a committee of 13 working together who planned this whole thing from scratch,” Pai said. “It’s really empowering to see our goals that began as just ideas on paper come into this event where we’re cooking for a thousand people and putting a bunch of performances together. We have been planning this since November, so it’s exciting it’s finally happening.”

Sinha said an event like this can not only impact those who are involved in it, but the community as a whole as well.

“OSU is not very diverse, so I think it’s really easy to fall into that mindset of where you’re used to being around the same people and seeing the same things your entire childhood, so nothing changes when you come to college,” Sinha said. “I think college is a really important time to open up your mind to the world, so I think it’s amazing we get an opportunity to show our culture to the OSU community, who might not know anything about other cultures.”