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Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Festival celebrates South and Southeast Asian holidays

Four campus organizations collaborate to host Holiday Fest
Students dance and celebrate at Holiday Fest (Courtesy of Wake Forest University).

In a vibrant celebration of cultures, the South Asian Students Association (SASA), Hindu Students Association (HSA), Muslim Students Association (MSA) and World Tea Association came together in the Sutton Center on Nov. 4 to host Holiday Fest — an event celebrating South and Southeast Asian holidays and festivals. 

“It’s an opportunity to bridge gaps and bring communities closer,” MSA Vice President Kainat Tariq said of the event.

Through an array of booths providing refreshments and information about holidays such as Diwali, Eid and Ramadan, the night served as a cultural exchange between different religious groups on campus. Students conversed with representatives from each organization’s stand, enjoying tea, sweets and Rooh Afza — a sweet strawberry-flavored drink that was passed out by MSA.

Once students had time to visit each stand and snack on appetizers, the dance group Deacon Dhamaal performed to a mashup of Bollywood music. Their performance was followed by two performances in classical Indian dance styles. In one dance, sophomore Shruthi Ananth and freshman Brinda Laddha performed Bharatanatyam. This dance style aims to express religious stories through rhythm and facial expressions.

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Then, sophomore Priya Mendiratta’s dance to a religious hymn in the Kathak style received ample applause. Kathak includes intricate footwork and rapid yet controlled movements to convey numerous emotions in a short amount of time. Nearly every table was in awe close to the end of her performance. Freshman Ria Thakker, a fellow performer, said Mendiratta’s rendition was “impressive” and emphasized the importance of endurance and perfect footwork in this dance style.

Following the dance showcase, attendees lined up for a buffet-style dinner with Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The menu featured signature dishes such as chicken tikka masala and lamb kebabs. The dessert section featured treats from both Indian and Mediterranean traditions. Fragrant bowls of the Indian dessert gulab jamun, which are soft and syrup-soaked dough balls, nestled next to Baklava plates, with flaky pastry and honeyed filling layers. Excitement for unique flavors spread through the crowd. While waiting in line for dinner, freshman Hayden Jones said, “I’m so excited to try the food here.”

Later, he said the baklava was his favorite. “The food is great, especially the chicken,” Jones said with a satisfied smile, visibly impressed by the food.

Freshman Anna Jin was excited to attend and see her friend perform.  

“The food was amazing, and so was the dance,” Jin said. “I’m so glad I came out here.”

When asked about helping organize Holiday Fest, HSA president Meera Doran spoke about creating an atmosphere of community. 

“I thought we did a good job making the event feel like a community and homey,” Doran said. “I felt myself getting into the holiday spirit. I think all of the [executive board] and Deacon Dhamaal serving the food was helpful to integrate everyone into the community!”

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