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India Nite blends culture, environmental issues

This year’s India Nite boasted an energetic and meaningful collection of music and dance, but it wasn’t all just for show. 

The Indian Students Association’s annual India Nite, held at the Lincoln Center, is about more than just showcasing important parts of Indian culture; this year, the event made a point to bring environmental concerns to the forefront. 

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The event held a variety of passionate performances, as the night was filled with dancing, singing band performances and a fashion show to finish it off.

India Nite is a way that the ISA can express traditional Indian customs and infuse it with a bit of western contemporary style.  

“If you look at some of (the performances), they’re very traditional,” said Prathmesh Kale, the president of ISA.

The event began with a traditional Indian dance that is done to bless the stage for the coming performances. Each dancer radiated charisma and rhythm, displaying the intricate nature of Indian dance. The several performances, each unique in their own way, brought into sharp relief the nuances of Indian culture. 

Women dance
Members of the Indian Students Association perform during India Nite, an annual event to celebrate Indian culture, hosted by the India Student Association in the Lincoln Center Nov 3. (Alyssa Uhl | The Collegian)

“It’s to express the cultural diversity of India,” said Meagha Chilakalapudi Ramana Kamar, the vice president of ISA. “Each state in India has their own culture and even its language is very different. We’re trying to educate the community.”

India Nite’s emphasis on welcoming diversity and multiculturalism created an environment for artists to feel encouraged to add a unique twist to their music. 

After the welcome dance, the event took an interesting twist as the band Unified Diversity led the stage with traditional Indian music with a western style. Their songs had a blend of Latin, salsa and hip-hop.

Unified Diversity is a local Fort Collins band whose brand is blending different genres and cultures within their music. 

“We fuse other parts of pop music, and it’s something that the audience hasn’t heard before, so hopefully it gets them to listen to music from another part of the world,” said Amol Kitwadkar, lead singer of Unified Diversity.

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Another major theme of India Nite is a particularly hot-button issue today: the environment.

This year’s theme for India Nite took a global approach, as their goal was to bring awareness to climate change and going green. The ISA took every possible opportunity to ensure the event was environmentally friendly by using biodegradable materials.

“We are trying to incorporate our message into the dance performances,” Chilakalapudi Ramana Kamar said.

Several performers used their stage time to bring up the environmental issues we currently face. Unified Diversity shared ways on how they choose to be eco-friendly and asked the audience to learn the several ways it’s possible to make a difference.

It’s a really great opportunity for me to be immersed in a different culture.” -Dmitri Ascarrunz, violinist for Unified Diversity.

“Coming from the other part of the world, it’s amazing to have this platform that lets me share my culture and message,” Kitwadkar said.

While India Nite covered a wide range of performances and powerful messages, it really introduced how Indian culture is celebrated and shared in Fort Collins.

“I saw my friends, and this is the first time I’ve seen them in Indian clothing, and it’s amazing because they get to see what clothes we wear, what kind of music we listen to,” Kitwadkar said.

The event also highlighted what this night means for everyone, emphasizing that it isn’t just for people to celebrate their own culture, but for others to learn about Indian customs and how they can become immersed with it.

“We really enjoy how (Colorado State University) students come to see what India Nite is and how culturally diverse we are,” Chilakalapudi Ramana Kamar said. “It really doesn’t have to be about showcasing Indian culture. If a CSU student wants to come and perform, we are happy to host it.”

The importance of sharing cultures is one of the many things the performers learned at India Nite. 

“I feel really great about this event; it’s a really great opportunity for me to be immersed in a different culture,” said Dmitri Ascarrunz, the violinist for Unified Diversity. “Collaborating with other musicians from other cultures is an amazing experience, and it broadened my perspective on music and what I listen to on a day-to-day basis.”

 Sam Sedoryk can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @samsedoryk

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