Colorado State India Nite draws 900 people

Even though India is 8,400 miles away from Colorado, it seemed a lot closer Sunday night in the Lory Student Center.

A high-energy crowd of approximately 900 people filled the LSC Main Ballroom to get a taste of Indian culture as part of CSU’s Indian Students Association annual India Nite.

Unique food, dancing, music, comedy routines and prize giveaways showcased the country’s rich heritage, bringing a little culture to Fort Collins and a reminder of home for more than 120 Indian international students studying at CSU.

“It’s so much fun to share the culture and show people what it’s all about,” said club president Bhavesh Khemka, who’s working on a doctorate degree in electrical and computer engineering. “There’s so many different aspects of Indian culture and we want to promote that.”

By hosting India Nite, the club hoped to both allow students from India to keep a connection to their heritage and to have community members experience first hand the richness and diversity found in India.

Manoj Gedela arrived at CSU from India two months ago to work on a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He said this was the first time he had ever left the country and has been feeling homesick lately.

India Nite was a good opportunity to reconnect with his culture, Gedela said.

“I miss my home. There’s all the things you miss when you’re away,” Gedela said. “It’s always nice to have something to remind you of where you’re from. I loved watching the Bollywood dances tonight.”

Jason Moses, a senior computer science major, heard about India Nite through a friend. He said he’s a big fan of Indian culture and cuisine and was excited to see what would be on hand Sunday evening.

“When I heard it about I thought ‘heck yeah, India Nite,’” Moses said. “It’s a great idea because it gives people chance to experience another country’s culture and cuisine. I’m glad it’s here.”

The exotic smell of spices filled the air as attendees sampled food ranging from samosa, a mixture of peas and potatoes deep fried in wheat batter, to sonpapdi, a light dessert that’s loosely described as the Indian version of cotton candy.

On stage, dancers in brightly hued outfits took turns performing dance routines ranging from classic cultural to more contemporary Bollywood themes. Between acts, a rotating set of MC’s bantered with each other and handed out prizes to audience members.

“Each state in India has its own dance forms,” said biochemistry master’s student Venkata Charepalli. “Dancing and festivals are part of every person’s life in India.”

Charepalli performed in a showcase of dance forms common to southern India called Gumthalakadi Returns. In India, the dance is performed in local festivals as Gods leave the temples and parade through the streets, complete with people dancing in front of floats.

With over 1,800 languages and 50 official languages, India is a country rich in diversity, said Satya Nistaly, master’s degree candidate in computer science who is also the cultural secretary of the Indian Students Association.

“Last year we had over 800 people at India Nite, and each year the club gets bigger,” Nistaly said. “It’s tripled to 150 students. People come to CSU from India and tell their friends about it and then they enroll.”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.