By Edith Yang
What comes to mind when one thinks of Indian culture? The Indian Student Organization (ISO) will showcase Indian culture in its annual event this Saturday, April 12, and aims to help each person find an answer to that question. The ISO hopes to create an experience of Indian culture that UC Santa Cruz will find unforgettable.
“Our main goal here is to expose people to what Indian culture is really all about,” said Arpan Bajaj, one of the core members of ISO. “The artistic value of Indian culture is renowned around the world, but a lot of people in Santa Cruz don’t know that.”
To Bajaj, Indian culture has influenced numerous aspects in fashion and art, but has not been given the recognition that it deserves.
“A lot of women’s clothing comes from Indian culture,” Bajaj said. “The women’s tops I see all the time, those are traditional Indian clothes people wear when they go to bed!”
“Indian cultures have a lot of stereotypes,” he continued. “People often think of it as the funny 7-11 guy [and] spicy food, but it is a way for us to show how beautiful the art of Indian culture is — [people] get to see something completely different.”
This year’s showcase will include traditional Indian dances such as bhangra, belly dancing and hip-hop, all of which are performed within a humorous skit. ISO hopes to expose various spectrums of the diversity of Indian culture.
“I think it’s not showing just Indian culture,” said Teji Kapadia, a member of ISO and one of the choreographers of the hip-hop performance. “Most of us are American-born, so we’re mixing in American and Indian culture.”
A guest appearance by Stanford University’s nationally acclaimed men’s a cappella group, Raagapella, is something new ISO looks forward to.
“India is very diverse: North Indian, South Indian, East, and West,” said Vina Patel, another core member of ISO. “We are trying to incorporate traditional and modern [aspects] — it’s a fusion show.”
The show also gives ISO members an opportunity to reach out and learn more about their own cultural roots. Kapadia realizes the importance of learning about her culture, especially in college where it can be easily forgotten.
“I know for my mom at least, it meant a lot when I came to college,” Kapadia said.
Overall, ISO’s members plan for an unforgettable show.
“I want people to laugh because it’s a funny show,” Bajaj said. “It will be very entertaining, to say the least.”
_The ISO’s Annual Culture Show will take place this Saturday at the UCSC Theater Arts Main Stage. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students._