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Festival to promote South Asian culture

Ohio State is one of the largest campuses in the country, and by extension has an incredibly diverse population which features students, faculty and staff from all corners of the earth. For those of South Asian descent, this weekend presents an opportunity to celebrate their heritage.

Buckeye Mela, organized by the Indian American Association, the South Asian Student Association and the Indian Students Association, is an annual weekend promoting South Asian culture, and takes place this Friday and Saturday.

Attendees can play dodgeball, basketball and cricket tournaments, as well as partake in a block party at the RPAC Pavilion. It concludes at the Capitol Theatre with Srujan, an intercollegiate South Asian dance competition.

All proceeds from the event are donated to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

“This is possibly the most fun charity event at Ohio State,” said Sudeep Nigam, a fourth-year in electrical engineering who works as one of the three co-chairs of Buckeye Mela.

Nigam said that one of the goals of this year’s Buckeye Mela is to attract students who might not necessarily be of South Asian descent.

“We want it to be a university-wide event,” Nigam said. “We have sports tournaments which are open to everyone and we have awareness events which are open to everyone.”

Buckeye Mela was founded in 2008 by the Indian American Association. It began as a small cultural event intended for OSU students alone, but has become something much bigger.

Avinash Gupta, a third-year in finance and accounting, is another one of the event’s co-chairs. He believes the event presents an opportunity for students to see aspects of a culture they may not know much about.

“In two days you’re going to experience a bulk of the South Asian culture,” Gupta said.

Vaishali Mahna, a third-year student in political science and finance, is Buckeye Mela’s third co-chair. She said that she expects about 1,200 people total to come out to the event this weekend.

“Every time you buy a ticket or you decide to participate in a tournament, you’re raising money for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank,” Mahna said. She added that last year’s Buckeye Mela raised about $9,600 for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

Srujan, the intercollegiate dance competition which will occur Saturday night at the Capitol Theatre, will feature South Asian dance teams from across the country, including Virginia and Texas. Three teams from OSU will perform as exhibition acts.

Making Buckeye Mela a reality costs about $25,000 and takes almost a year of planning. Much of the money comes from the event’s sponsors.

“We’re usually able to raise more than that,” Nigam said. “There’s nothing that goes to the planning committee at all.”

Srujan tickets for OSU students begin at $10 and can be found at http://www.buckeyemela.com.

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