Roshni: A South Asian Cultural Showcase at Yale

by Taylor Jackson 

Every year, the South Asian Society puts on Roshni, a celebration of Southeast Asian culture and performing arts. Many members of South Asian student groups participated in the performances and recruited other students to join in.

Over the course of the night of Friday, November 13th,  five of Yale’s South Asian dance groups performed, as well as our only South Asian a cappella group, Sur et Veritaal, a group that performs mashups of popular Western Music and Bollywood hits. At this year’s Roshni, they turned Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful, Sam Smith’s “Only One,” and Tu Jaane Na from the film Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani into one fluid piece that had the audience clapping along.

The five South Asian dance groups performed a variety of routines. Some of the campus groups performed fusion dance styles. Yale Jashan Bhangra combines modern pop and hip hop styles with the traditional folk dance know as Bhangra from the Punjab Region of India. The dancers in Rangeela fuse classic Bollywood dance with different modern forms, and MonstRAASity combines the traditional Gurajati forms of Raas and Garba with pop and hip hop.

Meanwhile, other campus groups took more traditional routes. A trio of dancers from Yale Kala, a group that perform classical Indian dances, performed a Kthak Bharatanatyam fusion dance. Kshitiz Kz from SAGA performed a solo piece, “a Tamil composition describing the effect of Krishna’s flute in Vrindavan.”

In addition to the performances from official Yale extracurricular groups, each class year performed a dance choreographed by South Asian students but performed by students across that class year to mixes of Bollywood and modern pop songs.

While South Asian students and traditions were the focus of the night, South Asian cultures and the many things associated with them were a common point of discussion with the Emcees for the night who devoted their time to discussions of love, Bollywood, and common misconceptions about South Asian people. They covered everything from naan, mothers, to Priyanka Chopra, teaching the audience about themselves and the cultures from which they hailed.