The Indian Student Association’s annual event, India Day, was this past Saturday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center. ISA has held this event for the past several years as a celebration of Indian culture at UVa. This year the event was inspired by Willy Wonka, the popular Roald Dahl children’s book character, and was titled “Vijay Vonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Prachi Varma and Manpreet Dhindsa, second year students in the College of Arts and Sciences and current Membership Chair and Secretary/Historian of ISA, have both been involved in ISA since coming to the University of Virginia.
“Events like India Day are important because we can really showcase our culture to the community,” said Varma. “I’ve heard a lot of people complain about UVA’s lack of diversity, so it’s important for us to show people why diversity is a necessary part of the college experience and also life in general.”
The event hosted around 1,000 people this year, growing from past attendances, and a significant number of Charlottesville community members without UVa affiliation attended. The organization has increased their publicity in the past year, helping raise the attendance numbers for events like India Day, as well as newer events like their formal.
“The best part about India Day is showing our culture to so many individuals,” said Dhindsa. “It gives everyone an opportunity to showcase their talents while representing their heritage. From singing groups to dancing groups, the audience was able to experience an amazing show that represents our vibrancy as a culture.”
Varma, a South Carolina native, echoed her belief in the importance of this event not just for those unfamiliar with Indian culture, but also for students to explore their own Indian culture.
“Coming from South Carolina, I was not exposed to Indian culture as much as some of my friends, so it’s nice to have an event like India Day where I can participate in Indian dances as a personal outlet,” said Varma.
In addition to offering this space for cultural expression, ISA helped raise money during the event for the Social Outreach Foundation. SOF works to provide each child in Noida, India with an education. ISA has helped support this organization with fundraising from several other events.
“The general response that I’ve heard is that the show was great, so much fun, and well organized,” said Dhindsa. “Everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves and that was our main goal in putting on this show.”