The American University South Asian Student Association (SASA) held its annual cultural event, Jalwa, on November 5 at the Washington College of Law, bringing together students and alumni for an evening of talent and fun. The evening was themed “Lights, Camera, Action”, with film posters and film set, setting the stage for a range of performers.
From dancing and singing to a fashion show featuring traditional South Asian clothing, there was something for everyone in the audience to enjoy and applaud. The packed house audience buzzed with anticipation to see the performances.
“We’re here to provide the stage for community members to show off their talents – and of course, dress up and eat great food,” said Vishwa Bhatt, junior at the College of Arts and Sciences and co-host of the night with Sriman Thangaraj, a second-year student at the School of Public Affairs.
SASA students who participated in Jalwa come from different parts of the South Asian diaspora, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives, said Bhatt and Thangaraj in their opening remarks. The event was open to SASA alumni and other members of the AU community who wished to participate in the celebration of South Asian culture.
“I think the food stands out, and I think that’s a big part of why non-brown or non-Asian people come, which is good. I think the music is also why,” said Anusha Mathur, a second-year SPA student, member of SASA and performer in the fashion show part of Jalwa.
Jalwa started with buffet-style dishes from Spice-6 the catering, which according to the restaurant’s Instagram, is “a fast and casual version of Indian cuisine”.
The night also hosted a diverse group of student performers. The first performance was UA Agni – the first prominent fusion dance crew on campus – followed by Chaytanya Kumar, who presented a rap performance. K-District, UA’s K-pop dance team, danced to three songs at the event, and SASA co-chair Darshi Ambani performed a solo dance. A duet in Tamil, the native language of parts of southern India and Sri Lanka, was performed by Tejasvi Hariharan and Arpitha Sistla. AU Agni member Meera Swaminathan also performed a solo dance to a Tamil song.
The last singer of the evening was Kruttika Gopal accompanied by Hanish Immanuel, who sang a moving ballad. To complete the performance, American Bhangra Crew – which is open to Punjabi and non-Punjabi students – kept the energy high with a dance that had the whole crowd cheering.
SASA students also had the opportunity to show off their traditional South Asian attire in a fashion show. The crowd cheered on the contestants as they walked across the stage in pairs to a song of their choice.
Jalwa concluded with an open dance floor where attendees could come together and dance to a combination of South Asian and American music.
Each group and performer at the Jalwa celebration worked hard to ensure that the diverse talents would educate event attendees about South Asian culture and provide a positive and fun experience.
“I had a lot of fun in Jalwa and felt a strong sense of community tonight,” said Mahita Dasu, a second-year student at the School of Communication.