MU celebrates culture with 27th “India Nite”

MU’s Cultural Association of India organized its 27th annual “India Nite,” a night of music honoring the country’s diverse culture and rich heritage.

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For 27 years now, MU’s Cultural Association of India has brought together “India Nite,” an annual event that showcases and celebrates the country’s heritage. Featured is a talent show that includes dance performances, live music and fashion shows. This year’s event, held on Oct. 27 in Jesse Auditorium, reunited not only the Indian community here in Columbia, but also an audience made up of people from all different cultural backgrounds.

“India Nite” is only one of the events organized by CAI, which has programs and other celebrations throughout the year. The CAI has been an active organization on campus for over 50 years, promoting cultural diversity at MU with the help of its student members. Being Indian or having an Indian background is not mandatory to join.

“From dance to band performances, we have hip-hop [and] Bollywood,” Vinita Chandwani, president of CAI, said. “It just shows all kinds of genres if you wanna know more about India or see the beautiful colors.”

Participants don’t need to have any kind of Indian background to perform at “India Nite,” according to the organization's president. They are actually looking for more diversity on its members, in orders to promote the connection and relation between both American and Indian cultures. Chandwani also gave a speech at the end of the night about the importance of India Nite for her and for the Indian community in general.

“Tonight, we have people that have been in Columbia for two decades and people that have arrived just yesterday, like my husband that came just for this event,” Chandwani said.

The Indian dance groups that performed came from all around Missouri. From Jefferson City to local ones from Columbia, it has including MU’s own Bollywood dance team, Mizzou Masti. The night also played live music from one of the audience’s favorite act, “The Superconductors,” and two fashion shows turned Jesse Auditorium’s stage into a runway. The first line displayed the colorful outfits of the diverse regions of India, and the second one was all about the cinematic world of Bollywood and how it changed through the years.

For co-host Amit Sinha, the best part of India Nite was the variety in types of acts.

“The Superconductors have been performing at this event for the last five years and they are literally the best during their entire performance,” Sinha said. “There are also about seven kids who [were] playing the violin [and] playing Bollywood music, and I think they are fantastic.”

The connection between India and the U.S. was also brought to light in moving moments of the event, such as when younger members of the community sang the Indian national anthem followed by the American one soon after.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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