- Sincerely, Southern
Celebrating South Asian culture in the Boro
By: Javon Huynh, Multimedia Reporter
On a recent Wednesday in March, the normally quiet Georgia Southern campus came alive with the sounds of Bollywood blasting in front of the bookstore as students of Indian descent dressed in traditional clothing danced to the catchy beats.
Thanks to GSU’s South Asian club, the organization was able to introduce the student body to Holi, the Festival of Colors. The festival is an important holiday in the Hindu religion that celebrates life and forgiveness.
The event ended with a fun battle as participants threw brightly colored powder at each other to signify resolving conflicts.
The South Asian club offers a place for South Asians to feel confident and connected to their culture and heritage by bringing their traditions alive and promoting them as a safe place for all students regardless of background.
“GSU is the type of school where the community you build is a large determinant of your enjoyment during your time here,” Pragya Gupta, the club's president said.
To foster a welcoming environment, Gupta ensures that the club hosts meetings that are easily accessible and convenient for all members by making sure to host many gatherings and celebrations around the schedules of all those who join.
With over 100 active members, the club regularly meets every Thursday via Zoom or at group hangout locations to discuss activities and plan for future events.
For active member Anu Pradeep, the South Asian Club allowed her to discover her identity.
“Being a brown person in America is not just a skin color or ethnic background, it is the shared experience and culture that we all go through,” Pradeep said. “So, to be able to relate and grow with others similar to me is an experience I can only gain from the South Asian Club.”
The members of the club are all open to learning about different walks of life and the varying ways people have connected to their heritage. The South Asian club has been an inspiration for many students who have found a family within the community.
“I try to create the welcoming environment I wish upon everyone,” Gupta says. “We already have quite a diverse club, with different nationalities, ages, and even ethnicities, and as we get closer, we realize there's always more to learn about each other and ourselves. Conversation, acceptance, and compassion are key.”
Ryan Balrup, the club's secretary, shared that performing for Holi was his favorite event.
“I was one of the performers for the dances, which I never thought in my life I’d ever do,” Balrup said. “I don’t think I’m a great dancer and I’ll never claim to. It made me get out of my comfort zone and helped me be prouder and more confident in myself.”
In addition to Holi, the club also organizes events for another big cultural event called Diwali, India’s Festival of Lights that begins in November and celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
These events have been a welcome addition to the University’s Multicultural Affairs office.
Not only have these events raised more awareness for the traditions of GSU’s South Asian community, but it also provides an opportunity for the club to do more outreach as it continues to welcome new members and raise awareness of the unique issues that South Asian students face to a wider audience.
“I am truly happy with the more club-like and member-centered shift this organization has taken, as I have seen it increase in solidarity, understanding, and comfort among the members,” Balrup said. “I would love to continue this, along with setting up new initiatives to shed light on South Asian issues, increasing visibility, and fundraising in creative ways to allow for a more personable and active role in day-to-day campus life.”
Through events like Diwali and Holi, the club offers opportunities for cultural exchange and learning for all students. Overall, the club is a welcome addition to Georgia Southern University by allowing students to appreciate different cultures and celebrate its diverse