Throughout my elementary, middle, and even high school days, my father would always joke: “Yamini for President!” Of course his joke was fully laced with seriousness, but to my immensely shy and introverted self, the idea was seemingly impossible. Fast-forward through years of me working through my public speaking anxiety and sharpening my leadership skills to this year, where I have the privilege of serving as President for UD’s Indian Student Association (ISA). After enrolling in the Honors College, one of the first things I looked into during my freshman year was becoming a member of this organization. And sophomore year, as I aimed to be more involved, I effectively became ISA’s Treasurer.
ISA aims to facilitate understanding between students to cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships among community members of all different backgrounds. We promote social and cultural activities originating from all over India, ranging from Punjab to Tamil Nadu. And although it is referred to as the “Indian” Student Association, we house an all-inclusive environment where any student can be a member regardless of their cultural heritage. While this is not an exhaustive list of our events and celebrations, below are some of our most prominent and memorable ones that you won’t want to miss.
Navratri is an annual Hindu festival celebrated in honor of the Goddess Durga for defeating the demon, Mahishasura. Spanning over nine nights, each region of India has its own traditions associated with the celebration, one of the most popular ones being garba. Garba is a dance originating from the state of Gujarat, generally performed around a centrally located picture or statue of the Goddess. Last year, ISA collaborated with a newer RSO, Gujarati Samaj of UD (GSUD), to host an unforgettable Garba Night, filled with dance, delicious food, and other festivities. While the event planning was more intricate than ever before due to the numerous health and safety guidelines, both executive boards worked closely together to make sure everything was being done safely and efficiently. As a result, the event was one of the most successful celebrations we’ve ever seen with over 450 community members in attendance!
Chai & Chill
Fun fact: Although you may have had a Chai Tea Latte before, what you might not know is that “chai” actually means “tea” (so really, you’re being redundant). For a large portion of the Indian community, chai is more than just a hot beverage. Chai is an integral part of our lifestyle. Whether it’s a morning routine, a midday break, or a late night snack, there is always room for this masala-infused, sweet drink. Through our Chai & Chill event, ISA offered a laid-back lounge experience to indulge in this lifestyle. Students were invited to bring their homework to study, to bring games to play, or to just bring friends to hangout, while enjoying a variety of flavors of piping hot tea and classic Indian snacks. If you missed it, or if you want to join in on the fun again, be on the lookout for our next Chai & Chill!
Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the biggest and most awaited celebrations in India each year, celebrating the triumph of good over evil. On this occasion, families and friends get together with an abundance of festive foods, colorful fireworks, and other activities. On November 11, 2022, for the first time ever, ISA hosted a big Diwali Celebration in Trabant’s Multipurpose rooms. The event’s program was a packed night with a wholesome Indian meal, traditional diya painting, and creative rangoli coloring. We also invited Delaware Kamaal, UD’s Indian fusion dance team, for a special performance, followed by an open dance floor, ending the night with dancing to everyone’s favorite desi hits. Taking the lead on such a large scale event for the first time was definitely a bit nerve-racking, but watching everyone have a great time made it all worth it.
Whether it’s board games, card games, or video games, everyone loves a little competition, and ISA is no stranger to that. Throughout the semesters, we have hosted several game nights including games such as competitive Kahoots, cultural Wordle, and Bollywood themed trivia. During our first 2022-2023 general body meeting, students got a chance to show off their Bollywood knowledge and compete for a gift card prize. Interested in high stakes and tough competition? Be on the lookout for another game night in spring with friends, snacks, and even better prizes!
Reaching even beyond the Indian community, Holi, better known as the festival of colors, is one of the most well-known celebrations. Based on ancient scriptures, Holi typically begins with the Holika bonfire, representing the end of evilness (sensing a pattern yet?). This festival also commemorates the arrival of spring season and the blossoming of love between family and friends. And that tradition is of course famously marked by splashing each other with a variety of colored powders. As always, the more the merrier, so ISA and Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA) collaborate each year and work to bring Holi to campus. With friends excitedly chasing after each other, colors flying through the air, and music blasting, you definitely won’t miss us if you’re passing by on the North Green. If you see us this spring, don’t hesitate to join in!
You may have gathered by now that ISA loves to go all out with a jam-packed schedule, year-round. And I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity to head such an amazing organization. Growing up as a minority brought on certain discriminatory actions and stereotypical labels against me, which initially made me hesitant to wear my culture on my sleeve. But I learned, my background has always been important to me, it has shaped me into the person I am today, and being Indian is a significant part of my identity that I will never be ashamed of. And I love that serving as the President of the Indian Student Association allows me to tap into that part of myself, while spreading cultural awareness and bringing our community together.
- “Finding Your Major(s) and Minor(s)” by Nadya Ellerhorst - December 9, 2022
- “Honors Wildlife Research” by Shayna Demick - December 1, 2022
- “Indian Student Association Spotlight – A President’s Perspective” by Yamini Vyas - November 17, 2022