A lone keyboard and microphone stood on the stage along with a starry background as people lined up outside of Robsham Theater on Saturday evening. Screams and cheers of excitement flooded the theater as the lights dimmed, signaling the start of the South Asian Student Association (SASA) at Boston College’s 24th annual culture show, titled Aasha.
The masters of ceremony Arjun Garg, CSOM ’25, and Syed Hassany, MCAS ’25, appeared on stage to delight the audience with witty banter and comical quips. They presented the meaning of the show’s title, Aasha, which means “hope” in Hindi. Sathvika Dabbi, co-coordinator of the show and MCAS ’22, said that the show’s theme spoke to the difficulties people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wanted to make a show that reminded us that we will get through this, and we are getting through this,” Dabbi said. “And Aasha really represents how coming together multiplies that hope.”
The pair also introduced the first act of the night, a moving musical performance of the song “Nachdi Phira” by Sancia Sehdev, MCAS ’25, and Meenakshi Menon, MCAS ’25. Dazzling dance performances followed the first musical act. Each performance was accompanied with a practice video displaying the hard work that went into each routine.
The first dance performance was a classical routine from the SASA members, which, according to the show’s program, incorporated mudras, which are hand gestures that create a common language of expression.
Next up was the Bollywood fusion dance team Masti, which performed to popular songs infused with a Bollywood sound, including “Streets” by Doja Cat and “MIA” by Bad Bunny.
Other dance styles that SASA group members showcased were Garba and Bhangra. The dance styles featured formation-heavy choreography accompanied by colorful traditional garments that lit up under the spotlights. The team also split into teams for a dance battle. Each team filled the stage with energy, and the dances represented two sacred Hindu figures: Shivan and Shakti.
One of the highlights of the event was the fashion show, presented by Fiza Usman, Lynch ’24.
“Growing up I always struggled to recognize the elegance in my South Asian heritage due to [the] lack of appreciation and representation I saw around it,” Usman said. “A show like this is exactly what I wish I had when I was a little girl. I hope it gives you a glimpse at a beautiful people and beautiful clothes.”
The show accentuated the beauty of the clothes with a kaleidoscope of color, sparkles, patterns, and flowing clothing—including salwar kameez, lehengas, chaniya cholis, and kurta pajamas.
Poetry and prose also took center stage. Tara Balan, MCAS ’25, presented an original poem about her experience in SASA titled “SASA Exposed.” Divya Kumar, MCAS ’23, then took the stage to deliver an empowering speech and announce that a portion of the culture show’s profits would be donated to the nonprofit Give2Asia. The group will also use the profits to send support to each of the five countries that the club represents: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
The SASA executive board, choreographers, and show coordinators all received applause from the audience and praised each other for their work on the production. Ishaan Kaushal, MCAS ’23, delivered a statement about posts on Herrd two weeks ago that racially stereotyped and attacked South Asian people. Kaushal ended the show with a final reflection on the theme of hope.
“Whether you are South Asian or not, I hope you felt the same sense of comfort and love and appreciation of cultures that may have not been your own tonight,” Kaushal said.
This story was updated at 8:55 p.m. on Feb. 20 to state that Fiza Usman delivered the speech before the fashion show.
Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Editor