UC Santa Barbara Indus hosted its annual End-of-Year Banquet and Culture Show on May 27 at Corwin Pavilion. 

Attendees gather in an event of food, dancing and singing performances. Courtesy of Indus

The event consisted of food, dancing and singing performances, as well as an open dance floor to end the night. Attendees were encouraged to wear traditional clothing. 

Indus — UCSB’s South Asian cultural organization — invited members and performers to spotlight the group’s accomplishments and programming throughout the past year. 

The banquet commenced by inviting attendees to eat food provided by Masala Spice outside the pavilion such as samosas, gulab jamun and mango lassi. After half an hour of eating and conversing, participants entered the pavilion to watch the performances.

Second-year environmental studies major, Indus club Events Coordinator and  President-Elect Siaa Singh expressed that the banquet’s goal is to invite cultural performers to showcase their abilities.

“This year, we decided to do a cultural show with a lot of our clubs that are dedicated towards South Asian heritage, such as the Bollywood dance team on campus and the classical team on campus,” Singh said. “All of them had reached out and were wondering if there was a way for them to showcase what they’ve been working on throughout the year.”

Students perform to the audience of banquet attendees. Courtesy of Indus

The first act of the event included a comedy skit by comedian and banquet MC Rajveer Oberoi, who talked about common experiences of South Asians in the United States, including experiences with immigration. 

“I know for a lot of students that are international students, they’re dependent on the school for sponsoring their visa. A lot of the time they have to go home, which is supremely unfair because they work just as hard as every other student and they also deserve to be here,” Singh said. “Have empathy and have compassion because it’s a big deal leaving your home country.” 

Oberoi’s skit was followed by dancing and singing acts from groups such as the Indian classical dance team Agni, Bollywood fusion dance team Taara, Beachside Bhangra and other groups formed by friends and members of Indus. 

Beachside Banghra’s first-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology graduate student Abhayjit Saini described the significance of performing Bhangra, a North Indian Punjabi dance traditionally performed as a way to celebrate a good harvest, at the banquet.

“The purpose of performing at Indus was to show the presence of the Punjabi community on campus and to show a sense of brotherhood amongst all different Indian subcultures given the current political circumstances in India,” Saini said. 

Singh said celebrating South Asian cultural identity at the banquet focused on cultural food and dance.

“South Asian culture is very deep-rooted and etched into color, music, festival and especially food,” Singh said. “So that’s why I felt like it was important to throw an event that really celebrates togetherness, especially coming together for a common purpose, which was celebrating our culture that is so etched into dance and eating good food.” 

As cultural dancing and singing acts performed, audience members clapped along and cheered in support. 

After an hour of performances, the show ended with a final dance performed by the Indus board and an invitation for all attendees to freely dance on the dance floor.

Fourth-year biological sciences major and Indus Co-President Maham Memon expressed the Indus’ purpose is to create a home for South Asians on UCSB’s campus. 

“When you walk around UCSB, you don’t see that many South Asian people. I think it’s so important for people to feel that community here, especially during religious and cultural holidays because a lot of people can’t go back home,” Memon said. 

Indus will continue hosting its annual banquet and culture show, as well as religious holiday celebrations such as Holi and Diwali, to highlight South Asian culture and provide a community for South Asian students as well as provide an opportunity for non-South Asian students to learn more about South Asian culture. 

“It’s important to be aware that Christmas and Halloween and Valentine’s Day and Easter are not the only holidays that are present on campus, and there are so many more things you can celebrate and share with people,” said Memon.

Singh shared her goals with Indus moving forward. 

“To accommodate for an increase in population, I definitely want to make events more frequent,” Singh said. “With the club, I want to have more kinds of discussion panels where people can come in and talk about the South Asian experience in the U.S. or the immigration experience, and I just want to create a safe space for international and South Asian American students alike to just come hang out and feel like they belong.” 

A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the June 1, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.