Binghamton University’s Sikh Student Association (SSA) decked out the Old Union Hall in colorful balloons, lights and a collage of pictures reflecting Sikh traditions and figures for their first-annual Punjabi Gala this past Friday. Whether it was food, entertainment or dancing, the three-hour gala had something for everyone.
It was evident that a lot of thought was put into the gala, right down to the minuscule details. Each table was beautifully curated with candles and rose petals as the centerpieces, and there was also a place to take photos that consisted of an orange backdrop to reflect a traditional color in Sikhism.
Manjot Kaur, president of SSA and a sophomore majoring in computer science, explained the inspiration behind the gala.
“We really just wanted to show off Punjabi culture because it is unique and we do love celebrating it, from the dance to the fashion to the food and just the overall energy in a Punjabi celebration,” Kaur said. “I think we really wanted to bring that to campus and show off to everyone who we are.”
Initially, as individuals began to arrive, there was mingling among the crowd and background music that kept the space lively. Eventually, attendees began to make their way toward their respective tables as the lights began to dim and the background music faded softly — indicating the start of the gala.
The gala started off with an energetic E-Board entrance from SSA, which set the tone for the rest of the night.
This entrance was followed by several performances — girls giddha — a popular folk dance for women in the Punjab region — boys bhangra and several coed bhangra dances.
Jasmeet Kaur, events coordinator of SSA and a sophomore majoring in economics, described her experience as one of the choreographers for the coed bhangra dances.
“Bhangra has been something that has been a huge passion of mine since I was a little girl,” Kaur said. “I love doing bhangra. I’m on the BU Bhangra team and I’m so glad I get to be able to continue doing it in college. This was my first time choreographing any type of bhangra dance, so I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
All of the performances proved to be infused with high energy, and artistically showed off Punjabi culture. The combination of traditional bhangra music, the performers’ intricate hand and feet movements and their traditional South Asian attire worked to create various mesmerizing performances.
Kaur explained her favorite part of putting the gala together.
“I loved coming up with decoration ideas and [deciding] how to make our event unique from other events,” Kaur said.
Once the performances came to a close, the dinner portion of the night started. While the dinner proved to be an overall satisfying meal that included naan, rice, palak paneer and chicken tikka masala, it was the gulab jamun — fried balls of dough soaked in a syrup consisting of rose water, saffron and other aromatic flavors — that gave the meal a full circle feeling.
After the dinner portion, there was a food-eating competition with the street food snack golgappa, which is most common in India but is known in other South Asian countries as well. This event added an interactive portion to the gala, as it had a fairly large audience involvement.
The night ended with an open dance floor that continued the energetic atmosphere felt throughout the evening and simply brought together all attendees in a fun and carefree way.
Kaur described her hopes for future SSA Punjabi Galas.
“I think in the future it will be bigger,” Kaur said. “It will be better, we will be able to put on more events once we have the budget and we will be able to do different collaborations.”