By Emma Russell
Student Life Editor
A Desi Formal was hosted by the South Asian Club on Friday, Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Hodson Egg.
According to the promotional email sent by the club, the entire Washington College community was invited to experience South Asian culture and “enjoy some great food or just hang out with friends.”
The South Asian Club is new to campus, having been formed last semester. Club President sophomore Isha Sehar said that the Desi formal is the club’s second event, their first being a Chai and Chitchat event held last semester during the last week of classes before finals.
According to Sehar, during spring in South Asian countries they “usually celebrate with kites and they dance and they eat sweets,” and she wanted to replicate that spirit with a Desi Formal.
While the word “Desi” has a variety of meanings, according to Sehar it is used as a slang word to refer to a person who either lives in South Asia or is of South Asian descent.
All club members were encouraged to wear their culture’s traditional attire. Sehar, who is from Pakistan, wore a shalwar kameez — a long shirt with loose-fitting pants — and a dupatta, a long piece of fabric that can be used as a head wrapping or a scarf. Junior Pranavee Sutharshan, who is in charge of social media management for the club, wore a lehenga, an ankle-length skirt from India that can be worn with a short or long blouse called a choli and a dupatta.
The formal was decked out with black and gold decorations, with a mini photo booth for students to take pictures. Foods such as pizza, chips, Oreos, and Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts were offered for participants to eat.
The formal started with a game of musical chairs with a twist. Students would walk doing various South Asian-inspired dance moves and listening to a collaborative playlist made by the members of the South Asian club.
Most of the songs on the playlist were by Indian artists such as Pav Dharia, Harshdeep Kaur, Ezu, Nani Anjali, Mickey Singh, and AP Dhillon.
Sutharshan said her favorite songs on the playlist are by Indian music composer Anirudth Ravichandra, who works mostly in Tamil cinema.
“His music always makes me want to get up and dance, which is what we wanted everyone to do at our event,” Sutharshan said.
After musical chairs, they played clips of dance numbers from popular Bollywood movies and Vice President junior Sneha Vireshwar Dixit took to the dance floor, trying to lead students in recreating some of the dances.
Vireshwar Dixit trained classically as an Indian Kathak dancer for nearly a decade but said that she likes to dance by watching Bollywood movies.
“The actresses all dance very prettily so I was very influenced by that, and my classical training helps me dance to Bollywood songs as well,” Vireshwar Dixit said.
According to Vireshwar Dixit, “India does not have a very strong independent music industry…so most of the popular songs you hear are from movies and most of the choreography people like to do are from movies.”
The club played three songs from different popular Bollywood movies including the song “Radha,” from the film “Student of the Year;” “Gharga,” from “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” which translates to “This Wild Youth;” and “Kheech Meri Photo,” or “Take My Photo,” from “Sanam Teri Kasam.”
Sehar said later this semester the club plans to hold a fundraiser to benefit impoverished families living in India and Pakistan and is hoping to get more involved with the WC and Maryland communities for other future events.
“The response has been great from the community here, and I know we’re new and it’s a really small South Asian community, but we’re hoping that we can promote our culture a lot more and encourage diversity through our club,” Sehar said.
“South Asian club is a great opportunity for students to learn more about how diverse South Asian culture and festivals are,” Sutharshan said. “We love sharing our traditions and culture with everyone at WC.”
“Being a part of South Asian club has helped me feel like I’m at home,” Sutharshan said.
To keep up to date with the South Asian Club’s future events Sutharshan said she encourages students to follow their Instagram and new Tik Tok account @southasianclub_wac.
Photo by Emma Russell
Featured Photo Caption: Students participating in a round of musical chairs incorporating South Asian dance moves into the classic game while listening to a playlist full of South Asian artists made by the executive board of the South Asian club.