The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


“Garba Goes Wild” at Umphrey Lee

Sisters Integrating Service and Tradition Among Society host annual philanthropy event
 Garba Goes Wild at Umphrey Lee
“Garba Goes Wild” at Umphrey Lee

“Garba Goes Wild” at Umphrey Lee

Service, Samosa and South Asian culture took center stageSaturday night as Sisters Integrating Service and Tradition AmongSociety presented “Garba Gone Wild,” an eventcelebrating great traditions for a worthy cause.

The Umphrey Lee Ballroom was transformed into a breeding groundfor Indian food, music and dance as many students from all acrossTexas were treated to a night of Indo-American entertainment.

“This is the first big cultural event we’re puttingon this year,” said senior electrical engineering majorPrathibha Nagarajan.

As president of SISTAS, Nagarajan explained theorganization’s base of service, specifically fosteringmistreated children.

“Our philanthropy is child abuse prevention andawareness,” she said. “Right now, we’re workingwith Promise House, which is a shelter for pregnant or parentingteens.”

All proceeds from Saturday night — $5 for SMU students and$7 for all others in attendance – went to Udavum Karangal, anorphanage in South India that opens its arms to anyone — fromchildren with mental disabilities to those who have been abused toelderly citizens. Established in 1983 by Vidyakar, an orphan whowas abandoned at a movie theatre, the center currently housesnearly 1,800 residents given a second chance at life.

“We want to give back to anybody who needs help,”Nagarajan said.

The desire to lend a hand drove Nagarajan, along with four otherwomen, to start SISTAS on Jan. 14, 2002.

“My freshman year, we were a bit lost,” Nagarajansaid. “We got together and started a support group for SouthAsia-based women.”

According to the information board that greeted Garba-goers onSaturday, SISTAS, which became officially listed on campus twoyears ago this month, “is an organization dedicated touniting women of diverse ethnicities through service andcelebration of the rich cultures and traditions of SouthAsia.”

Those cultures and traditions were present on Saturday eveningas the smell of Indian cuisine, courtesy of Masala Grill, filledthe ballroom.

From sambar (a type of lentil soup) to pakora (closelyresembling onion rings) to chana (a collection of Garbanzo beans),attendees were not left to dance on an empty stomach.

Traditional Dandia music followed.

A human mural of colors circled a statue in the middle of theballroom, resembling an ancient Hindu tradition, as Garbabegan.

Originally formed in the Indian state of Gujarat, the basics ofGarba are singing and clapping rhythmically while going around thegoddess.

“The Raas part of the dance,” according to aninformation packet provided by SISTAS, “is performed in twocircles formed by men and women. [The dancers] move in clockwiseand anti-clockwise directions with two sticks (called dandiyas)held in their hands.

“Raas is a very energetic, colorful and playful danceproviding opportunity for acting and exchanging messages througheye contact.”

First-year biology major Siljo Kuruvila was drawn to theevent’s unique history.

“This is my first time learning to dance with the[dandiyas],” he said. “I really like the fact thatthere [are] hundreds of years of Hindu tradition behindthis.”

While the history behind the Garba and Raas runs deep, SISTAS atSMU hopes to start a tradition of their own. Nagarajan hopes forher organization to continue growing, and she sees a full-fledgedsorority in the future.

“We want to someday become an official member of the DeltaKappa Delta national sorority,” she said, “which wasstarted on Oct. 1, 1999.”

The founding members of SISTAS researched for nearly two yearsbefore deciding Delta Kappa Delta was for them. The motto of thesorority is “Sisterhood Built through Service.”

The next move in the process, as Nagarajan explained, is to waitfor an open spot on SMU’s Multi-cultural Greek Council, whichcurrently houses five culture-based fraternities andsororities.

In the meantime, however, SISTAS hopes to generate diversity oncampus.

“We want to spread cultural awareness,” Nagarajansaid. “We hope to make a difference in someone’slife.”

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