The Global Lounge was lit up Thursday evening, November 12, with the music and laughter of the South Asian Society of HKU’s South Asian cultural night. Both students and outsiders alike enjoyed the merry night of cultural display.
Soft lighting and slow traditional tabala and sitar music — instruments native to the subcontinent — set the mood. The décor consisted of fairy lights, flags of the participating countries and a beautiful Rangoli near the entrance. Most of the attendees donned traditional clothing, with the guys generally in Kurtas and the girls in Kameez with elaborate patterns.
The night started with a minute of silence to mourn victims of the earthquake that recently hit Northern Pakistan, followed by the national anthems of all the South Asian countries: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. A plethora of performances by HKU students followed, including a traditional Bangladeshi dance performance, a bhangra performance by the Pakistani students and various Bollywood dance performances.
The dance performances were interspaced by a variety of musical performances consisting of mainly Urdu and Hindi songs. One of the highlights of the night followed:food. Attendees chose between a vegetarian meal of lentils, curry, rice and naan bread and the non-veg option of biryani, chicken gravy and naan bread. There was also a mini bar with a variety of drinks on sale.
Students appreciated how the cultural event highlighted the uniqueness of each country in South Asia.
“South East Asia is a very culturally diverse area, and the chance to learn and experience the different cultures from that part of the world was extremely enriching,” said Chris Guay, an exchange student from McGill. “It is interesting to note the similarities and the stark differences within the South Asian countries.”
“Oh and the food, it is to die for,” Guay added laughingly.
Hamza Siddiqui, a Pakistani freshmen, said the event made him appreciate the uniqueness of each South Asian country.
“Even though I have lived in Pakistan my whole life, it was still a unique experience for me to watch the traditional performances on display, especially the Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan ones,” Siddiqui said. “This event showed that despite all our differences, our core values and traditions are the same, and that there is no cultural divide except for that created through misleading propaganda.”
Hassan Naveed, another Pakistani student, said the singing of his country’s national anthem struck an emotional chord for him.
“I was particularly moved while singing our national anthem,” Naveed said. “I have been away from home for three months now but, while singing the anthem, standing beside my fellow countrymen, I felt I was back.”
Though concerned about representing Pakistan well, Naveed ultimately felt positively about his role in the event.
“This was my first time dancing, and I was very nervous,” he said. “However after the performances, we received positive comments which is good. The pressure of representing my country is always there and I hope I can set a good example as a Pakistani.”
After dinner the dance floor was opened up for everyone with popular music tracks from India and Pakistan blasting at full volume. The party carried on into the night, with participants grooving to the tunes and enjoying the atmosphere.