Sanskriti Showcases Diversity of South Asian Culture

Harvey Mudd College students perform during Sanskriti, an annual show celebrating South Asian culture, in Big Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College on April 7, 2017. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)Students perform Bhangra during Sanskriti, an annual show celebrating South Asian culture, in Big Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College on April 7, 2017. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)Students perform during Sanskriti, an annual show celebrating South Asian culture, in Big Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College on April 7, 2017. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

I remember the days when my parents would take me to watch a Bollywood movie in theatres. It was a big deal (well, inside my young mind) because we didn’t do it often.

Most of the times, if we were to watch a Bollywood movie, it would be at home on the television if something happened to be showing. We only watched a few films in theatres if they were deemed blockbusters.

Watching Sanskriti, the 5C South Asian Culture Show, on Friday night reminded me of a Bollywood movie, as the show featured overdramatic storyline filled with emphatic dance sequences to supplement the underlying conflict — everything one loves and expects from Bollywood.

My eyes were met with energetic dancers wearing bright orange costumes and dancing under orange lights, building up spirit with their rhythmically zealous moves while also appealing to the audience’s humor with fills of classic butt-shaking.

Sanskriti definitely met the expectations of many other audience members. Hannah State PO ’20 said that she especially enjoyed the national dance of the Philippines; while the dancers made it look simple, you could tell that it took a lot of skill.

“I also thought it was interesting to see a mix of traditional Indian dance [as well as] modifications of traditions; [some were] mixed with hip hop or modern dance,” State said. “It looked like everyone was having such a fun time that it made you happy to watch it.”

The show included popular dance styles, such as Bhangra, Dandiya, and Bollywood’s classic “It’s the time to Disco” hit from “Kal Ho Naa Ho.” Tamasha, the 5C competitive Bollywood dance group, also made an appearance to show off their moves.

Sanskriti included a balance of multiple art forms; there was a poetry reading as well as two musical vocal performances, one of which beautifully communicated the elegance of Indian classical ragas.

Divya Ryan PO ’19, who performed in Sanskriti, said that she loved the energy the audience exuded. 

“I heard laughing and cheering and applauding from backstage, which was heartwarming,” she said.

Ryan acknowledged that though the storyline might have come off as cheesy, mimicking the movie “Bride Wars,” the filmy aspect did bring in “modern perspectives [like a lesbian couple] that Bollywood movies are still uncomfortable with doing.”

“Culturally, it was really touching for me to see so many non-South Asians participating and wearing South Asian costumes and the like. I know there is a huge deal about cultural appropriation here in the United States, and I felt that some people might disagree with how some of these people did that,” she said. “But as someone from Singapore, where celebrating racial harmony includes demonstrating acceptance by wearing ethnic clothing from other ethnicities, it was amazing to see people who are not of South Asian descent wearing the clothes of my culture and participating in Sanskriti, especially when they looked like they were having so much fun doing so.”