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SAA Cultural Festival Draws Sell-Out Crowds

By Leondra R. Kruger

Lines extended into the Radcliffe Quad this weekend as students and their parents flocked to the Agassiz Theater to see Ghungroo, the annual Indian cultural festival sponsored by the South Asian Association (SAA).

One among a bevy of cultural offerings timed to coincide with Junior Parents Weekend, the event drew sell-out crowds of 330 on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Ghungroo--the name of the bells South Asian dancers wear on their ankles--featured music, dance and poetry from a variety of regions of India and Sri Lanka.

The performances of Ghungroo reflected the cultural mix of the show's participants, according to Co-director Ami B. Bhatt '96, since it "combined South Asian culture with American culture."

Traditional Indian musical instruments, including the harmonium and the tabla, were accompanied by Western keyboards and violins. Fried samosas were sold next to cans of Diet Coke at intermission. And the show itself, which began with classical South Indian dance, ended with a techno take on a Punjabi folk dance.

The mission of Ghungroo is "to show how many different aspects of the South Asian culture there are to Harvard students," said Bipasha Majumdar'97, who both choreographed and danced in the show.

"South Asia is becoming more westernized, but we still have these traditional aspects," Majumdar said.

But Majumdar said the SAA members participating in the festival enjoyed it as much as the audiences who flocked to see it this weekend.

"Most people don't make it to the weekly meetings," Majumdar said. "But when Ghungroo comes along, it just brings everyone together. You meet people you've never seen before."

Approximately 100 students and two months of planning went into the production, said SAA Co-president and Ghungroo Co-producer Reena R. Lawande'96.

"The whole spirit of Ghungroo is to let those with some cultural talent perform for the community," Lawande said.

Organizers interviewed said the high turnout for Ghungroo came as a pleasant surprise.

"It's always a nice feeling when a show is sold out and people are waiting at the door to get in," Lawande said.

House manager Vikas S. Sohal '97, who describedthe seating for the two shows as "pretty crazy,"said a big part of the problem was the largenumber of parents who arrived after the box officehad closed.

While the house staff managed to find room formany of the late-coming parents, others were leftwithout tickets at the door.

"People were asking, 'How sold out is soldout'?" said Majumdar, a member of the house staff.

While part of the crowd can be attributed tothe influx of parents, some also say that the highturnout reflects the student body's interest incultural events.

"Half of it was probably due to Junior ParentsWeekend," Bhatt said. "And people on campus seemto be much more interested in ethnic organizationsand activities."

Having their parents present in the audiencepresented a special opportunity for the cast ofGhungroo, Bhatt said.

"It's a lot of fun to have your parents outthere, to show them you're still maintaining yourcultural ties when you're at college and away fromhome," Bhatt said

House manager Vikas S. Sohal '97, who describedthe seating for the two shows as "pretty crazy,"said a big part of the problem was the largenumber of parents who arrived after the box officehad closed.

While the house staff managed to find room formany of the late-coming parents, others were leftwithout tickets at the door.

"People were asking, 'How sold out is soldout'?" said Majumdar, a member of the house staff.

While part of the crowd can be attributed tothe influx of parents, some also say that the highturnout reflects the student body's interest incultural events.

"Half of it was probably due to Junior ParentsWeekend," Bhatt said. "And people on campus seemto be much more interested in ethnic organizationsand activities."

Having their parents present in the audiencepresented a special opportunity for the cast ofGhungroo, Bhatt said.

"It's a lot of fun to have your parents outthere, to show them you're still maintaining yourcultural ties when you're at college and away fromhome," Bhatt said

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