One UC Santa Barbara student, clad in a silver lengha, strode across the Robertson Gymnasium floor beneath a green dupatta held up by her bridal party as loudspeakers blared the Bangla song “Shopner Cheyeo Modhur.” Another, wearing a gray kurta, awaited her, flanked by colorfully attired groomsmen. In front of a gold and maroon mandap, fourth-year biology major Diya Bhandari and the groom, who wished to be anonymous for personal safety reasons, performed their vows, agreeing to tolerate each other’s imperfections and remain faithful to one another.

When they kissed, the crowd erupted with applause as at any other wedding — but no clergy was present to officiate, for the lovers were engaged in a mock shaadi, or pretend wedding. 

Courtesy UCSB Indus

The wedding simulation headlined a night of South Asian cultural performances organized by South Asian organization UCSB Indus as part of its annual end-of-year banquet, featuring a stand-up act and South Asian dance routines both classical and contemporary.

Approximately 250 people came to watch the ceremony and following performances and to participate in the dance floor which lasted for more than four hours until midnight. 

Although Indus did not include a mock shaadi in last year’s banquet, board member Kailash Ramesh, a second-year double major in applied mathematics and statistics and data science, said that the club has held such ceremonies before.

“We’ve thrown this two years ago, in fact,” Ramesh said. “It’s a thing that many South Asian institutions within universities do. We tried to make it specific to UCSB … Even though the idea is not original, our take on it is.”

The festivities began at 7:30 p.m. with naan, gulab jamun, mango lassi and more catered from Masala Spice, an Indian restaurant in Goleta. Attendees mingled and dined until 8:50 p.m., when the ceremony commenced.

The non-denominational service, featuring congratulatory speeches from Indus board members, lasted about 10 minutes. Afterwards, third-year biology major Aidan Dsouza delivered a stand-up monologue, before emceeing the ensuing culture show.

The show opened with a Bollywood routine by an autonomous student group. Next, six members of Agni, UCSB’s classical Indian dance group, performed a Bharatanatyam dance. Taara, UCSB’s Bollywood fusion dance team, followed with large-scale choreography. The Indus board closed out the show with another Bollywood-style dance just before 9:30 p.m. At that time, Indus staff announced that the floor was open for all to dance.

Fusion Sounds, a Los Angeles-based DJ company, provided the music for the open dance floor. For more than two hours, attendees danced to upbeat Indian film music with electric instrumentation. The DJs mostly played Bollywood songs in Hindi and Punjabi, but they also played several South Indian songs, including the popular Tamil songs “Lungi Dance” and “Why This Kolaveri Di,” and the Telugu hit “Oo Antava Oo Oo Antava.”

The dancing ended shortly after 11:30 p.m., with clean-up continuing until midnight. Afterwards, Indus board members were satisfied with how the event had gone.

“This year, we wanted something special,” Ramesh said. “The idea of replicating someone’s happiest day of their life is, in my opinion, the greatest way to send off a great year.”