Over the past few weeks, Binghamton University students have been getting into the fall spirit in a variety of ways. While there have been no shortages of pumpkins and Halloween decorations all over campus, the Pakistani Students Association (PSA) celebrated the fall season with biryani, Bollywood music and dance performances in their first-ever Fall Mela, or Fall Fair, on Friday in Old Union Hall.
After paying a $10 admission fee, attendees were able to enjoy South Asian food and drinks like Rooh Afza, mango lassi, falooda, biryani, pani puri, samosas and kebabs. Tables were set up around the room, each featuring a different activity. One table displayed traditional earrings and bangles, as well as regular, festive, plastic-beaded necklaces. Guests could pick and choose jewelry to keep from the collection. Others included a station where guests applied mehndi to one another, a table for playing Carrom (a South Asian tabletop game), water pong, a Fall Mela 2019 photo booth and a table for food and drinks.
Party guests visited each table and intermingled while PSA played Bollywood music and introduced their executive board. Shortly after the introduction, Masti, BU’s Bollywood-fusion dance team, performed an energetic dance to a medley of popular South Asian music. Despite technical difficulties with the music frequently pausing, the audience and dance team members clapped and sang along while Masti performed. The night ended with a gulab jamun-eating contest.
Christine Kurien, a member of Masti and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said despite the difficulties, the crowd was enthusiastic.
“There were some technical difficulties which caused our music to turn off while we were dancing, but I was so proud of how we handled this by finishing our routine without any music,” she said. “We really embodied the Masti spirit. PSA and the crowd were so supportive and hyped, which really set the tone for our performance.”
Shamalena Sookoo, a sophomore majoring in biology, said Masti’s performance was her favorite part of the event.
“I loved the Masti performance,” she said. “They were so amazing and I could tell they were having so much fun and I love that.”
Paige Foley, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said cultural events like Fall Mela are valuable for the BU community.
“PSA always throws very good events,” she said. “The food was awesome and the people are so nice. The performance was very fun to watch. I think it is important to celebrate the cultural diversity on campus and PSA does a very good job of doing that.”
Sookoo emphasized the importance of visibility, diversity and a willingness to learn at cultural events, and said she hopes the event introduced attendees to Pakistani culture.
“There were a lot of people of all backgrounds there and that was really cool to see that people weren’t afraid to step out of their boundaries to learn about a different culture,” she said. “I was really happy to see that. I really hope they do this again and it gets bigger.”