India Nite showcases India’s diverse cultural community through various musical performances

Performances included Bollywood dances and music from local musicians.

Jesse Hall thrived in various colors and music on Oct. 19 Members of MU’s Cultural Association of India hustled around the auditorium, checking sound and practicing dances before the 28th annual India Nite ceremony.

India Nite features a collection of dance and musical performances showcasing all aspects of Indian culture. It brings together people of all ages from the MU community and surrounding areas such as Jefferson City.

“We have people from all around, not just Columbia, people around from different cities like from Jeff City and everyone’s come here to participate,” Roland Paul Nazareth, president of the Cultural Association of India said. “We have some very young kids, and there are some people who have been performing for the last 20 years and more than 20 years.”

Performances included classical Indian dances, live singers, a fashion show and various Bollywood dances. Between each performance, the curtains closed and the masters of ceremonies previewed the performances with personal anecdotes.

Each performance reflected a different aspect of Indian culture that the performers wanted to represent. Mizzou Masti, a group of eight dancers from MU, performed a Bollywood dance in front of a slideshow showcasing influential Bollywood actresses. Sophomore Ganasri Aleti, one of the Mizzou Masti performers, attributes part of her self confidence to Bollywood actresses.

“They are a role model for us, and so we would like to pay tribute to them through this dance so that we can display them,” Aleti said. “We would also like to express our own Indian culture and how we are able to embrace it through that.”

The eight girls wore long white skirts and various colorful shawls. The group was not the only colorfully dressed performance of the night. Some groups sported pink and yellow dresses; young girls wore green dresses and had bells tied to their ankles to add crafted music to their performance.

The buzz of the evening took six weeks of auditions and rehearsals to come together. The organizing board emailed students in the MU community and people from the surrounding area in early September, asking for audition videos. The organizers then reviewed the auditions and decided who would perform in the show. Then it took several weeks to put the show together.

“Through this event, we are trying to promote Indian culture to the people around here, because India actually has a very diverse culture,” Nazareth said. “The main intention is that [the idea] gets through to all the people. Organizing the event is very hectic; we have almost 18 [groups] performing today.”

As the organization board worked to put together the logistics for the final performance, the performers practiced for a couple of hours a day for many weeks. On the last two days before the performance, Jesse Hall was alive with movement and music. The curtain came up at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and the packed auditorium glimpsed into Indian culture.

“We know that it is an event that is open to all, and Mizzou has such a diverse crowd who comes from almost all around the world,” Rupesh Devapati, cultural secretary of the Cultural Association of India said. “This is just a trial to showcase the Indian culture to all the crowd here.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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