Sanskriti: "A cultural extravaganza"

By Rachael Hamilton ‘16Staff Writer

If you are a fan of bright colors, dancing, singing, and free Indian food, there is only one place to be on April 6: Sanskriti, the 5C South Asian Cultural Show put together through the collaborative efforts of EKTA, the Bollywood dance club, and the Hindu society.

So what exactly is Sanskriti? According to co-chairmen Prachie Banthia (PO ’14) and Avantika Saraogi (’13), Sanskriti is “a fun celebration of the different kinds of things that are part of South Asian culture.” Sanskriti is an interactive performance that not only highlights the cultural variations of the performance pieces themselves, which stem from all across India, but also the cultural diversity that it celebrates among its performers and audience. The event features performances ranging from Bollywood to classical Indian dance, classical Indian singing to instrumental pieces, and even a couple of fusion pieces featuring hip-hop and beat-boxing.

“Sanskriti is a great platform for South Asians to celebrate their own culture, but also for other people who don’t have that cultural background to experience it and to be a part of it as well,” said Banthia and Saraogi on the diversity and collaboration of the performers.

The 50-plus Sanskriti performers, who have been preparing and practicing for Sanskriti all year, not only represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, but also represent each of the 5Cs and CGU. Sanskriti’s objective is to entertain as well as educate the Claremont community about the unique aspects of South Asian culture while embracing the coming together of all cultures. This is evident through some pieces, in which the majority of the performers and some of the choreographers are not of South Asian descent.

“We made this organization so people who did not have the cultural background could be a part of it. That’s the whole point: for us to make a diplomatic effort to get people that don’t know much about this culture to be a part of it.”

Not only do the performances themselves act as a means of highlighting the diversity within South Asian culture, but also the variety of the costumes adds to the diversity of the show. In total, there are about eight different styles of costume, each one bright, colorful, and uniquely suited to the style of dance. With each of the performers in anywhere from two to four acts, some performers will go through four costume changes; what makes these costumes all the more special is that the majority of them were bought and made in India, adding to the cultural authenticity of the show.

With all the excitement brewing over Sanskriti, it is hard to believe that only three years ago, Sanskriti did not exist. Though Sanskriti had existed previously, it disappeared and was brought back to life last year by Banthia and Jessica Kaushal PO (‘14). As freshmen, they created the Bollywood dance club and EKTA, and in their desire to do something more, got support from all the 5Cs and put on Sanskriti at Garrison last year.

At the revival of Sanskriti, Banthia and Kaushal did not expect a huge turn out, so imagine their surprise when people had to leave when all 700 seats at Garrison quickly filled up. In light of Sanskriti’s popularity, the showcase this year will be held at Big Bridges at Pomona, and is free and open to all the 5Cs and the surrounding Claremont community.

Although last year’s Sanskriti was a huge success, both Banthia and Saraogi anticipate this year’s performance to be an even bigger success. With a wider variety of pieces, more dedicated performers, and better content, they are expecting the audience to improve with it.

Although Banthia and Saraogi are nervous about moving to a bigger venue for Sanskriti’s second performance, they are anticipating a good turn out.

“Even if our audience is lower than we expect, when you have a great audience, an audience that is really supportive and stuff, it’s all that really makes a difference. Maybe it’s not as true with the classical pieces—especially coming from a Bollywood perspective, it’s very true because it’s all about performing and interacting with your audience and doing fun stuff like that. And it will be better for us, not in terms of we’ll be prouder of the show with more people watching, but I feel like the performers will be more excited, they’ll work more off the energy if there are more people there so we are really excited for an audience that has a lot of energy,” said Banthia and Saraogi.

So what should the audience take away from Sanskriti? For Banthia and Saraogi, “more than anything we want people leaving smiling and to say that they would come again.”

Sanskriti opens at 6:30 p.m. with free Indian food, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m. at Big Bridges.