Biggest Sanskriti event in years held Saturday in Union

Nandini Sarkar, doctoral student in chemstry, performed in Sanskriti on Nov. 4, 2017 at Forum Hall. (Tiffany Roney | Collegian Media Group)

Traditional Indian culture joined American pop culture for the biggest Sanskriti in years at the Kansas State Student Union on Saturday.

The Student Governing Association awarded the Indian Students Association about $2,000 more for the annual event than in previous years, allowing the Indian Students Association to bring several performers from other universities, said Sofiya Sabreen, president of the Indian Students Association and graduate student in architecture.

The celebration of Indian culture included 15 dance pieces, a fashion show, Indian snacks, a song performed by Harish Minocha, emeritus professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and a lamp lighting featuring Sara Thurston, director of International Student and Scholar Services and guest of honor for the event.

“It was one of the best [Sanskriti] performances I have attended, and it presented more classical and traditional pieces beautifully performed with great new talents,” Minocha said. Minocha has participated in Sanskriti at K-State for more than 40 years.

Nearly 20 K-State students performed in Forum Hall and more than 50 off-stage volunteers ran sound and lights, painted mehndi onto attendees’ hands and showcased their pottery, paintings, traditional dress and jewelry in an exhibition in the Union Courtyard.

“India is a vast country with a vast cultural heritage, so assembling all of the items for the exhibit and coordinating with so many people was really challenging,” Sabreen said. “Still, I enjoyed the excitement of working with students, local people and visitors for the variety of performances.”

Compared to previous years, the performances included more traditional and classical pieces, such as classical Hindustani music on the tabala and veena instruments and folk dances.

Ankita Saha, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, performed two classical dances with an emphasis on facial expression to act out the songs’ stories. For example, one dance portrayed the different phases of romantic love throughout a person’s life.

Saha, who is the sister of Debarshi Saha, K-State graduate student in computer science, said she appreciated the chance to perform to Indian folk music because she doesn’t often have the opportunity to showcase such traditional styles of dance.

Traditional Indian dance also took center stage in some of the songs performed by International Student Association members. For the past month and a half, these students choreographed and practiced dances in the evening at the Recreation Complex.

“The most interesting and encouraging part was seeing fellow K-State students practicing in the Rec Center until closing time at 11 p.m.,” Sabreen said. “It was beautiful to realize they were doing it all for this one-day event.”

Sabreen is grateful to K-State for giving the Indian students a platform to share their culture.

“I want to thank Kansas State University and the community of Manhattan for welcoming us with such warmth,” Sabreen said.