Puts Cultures on Center Stage
by Catharine Richert
the South Asian Students Association is putting on their annual
cultural show, Mizaaj, which will incorporate dance, poetry, drama
and song in order to present various aspects of South Asian culture.
Sophomore Shahana Siddiqui has participated in the cultural show
for two years. [The show] is basically a space for those of
us of South Asian heritage to come together a and perform something
that is a part of our heritage, that is a part of our ancestry,
Siddiqui said. Although not all South Asian countries are represented
on campus, Siddiqui feels that Mizaaj is a taste of South Asian
culture rather than a detailed representation. We always,
always keep in mind that people of South Asian heritages are very
diverse and were very different. We do share that one common
bond of coming from the same region, Siddiqui said.
Indeed, the varied backgrounds of the shows participants bring
many perspectives to the showcase. What makes this show really
interesting is that there are both South Asian international students
like myself as well as South Asian Americans who were brought up
here, junior Radin Ahmed said.
The diversity that Siddiqui mentioned has been carried over into
the repertoire of the performance. This years show is
very diverse, Ahmed said. We havent really had
skits before, so well have a couple of skits as well as traditional
song and dance. Spoken word will also be included in the show
for the first time. Eggshells, the skit in which Ahmed
performs, is about a middle-class South Asian family and the clash
between the conservative mother and her sons and daughter-in-laws.
Junior Aneeqa Kayani will be singing a song from the movie Mission
Kashmir called Bhumbro. Kayani hopes to show that South
Asian culture is not as traditional as it is perceived to be. Its
a good way of uniting us South Asians and showing Oberlin College
what South Asian culture is all about, the very traditional culture
and what South Asians are modernized to be, she said.
While participants feel it is important to represent their heritage
as accurately as possible, they also hope the show serves as an
educative yet entertaining program for the audience. As can be seen
from the modern nature of Kayanis piece, she hopes the show
will deconstruct stereotypes of South Asian culture. I hope
the audience realizes that South Asia has developed with the rest
of the world and it has modernized, yet it has managed to keep its
culture very much alive, Kayani said.
Sophomore Sehban Zaidi did not participate in the cultural show
last year because he wanted to experience his first year of college
detached from any aspect of his heritage. I was trying to
find my own feet outside of that region, Zaidi said. But
this year I realized the significance of the cultural show. In light
of what happened on Sept. 11, every culture from that part of the
world [South Asia] has been shown in a very negative context. A
lot of people have the wrong views, took tradition to mean religion
and religion to mean culture. I feel like its our duty to
educate people and put stuff out there so they can realize it themselves,
Zaidi also hopes the show will provide some cheerful, fun entertainment
for the Oberlin community, something that is often missing from
many campus performances. Its done in a very lighthearted
tone. I feel like thats something always missing from Oberlin:
humor. People take themselves very seriously, he said.
will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, in Warner Concert Hall.