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Indian Student Association’s Harvest Festival celebrates South Indian culture

Students in the Indian Student Association make decorations at the 2018 Harvest Festival. Credit: Courtesy of Indian Student Association

Despite the bitter winter weather, Ohio State’s Indian Student Association is bringing pieces of its culture to students through Fresher’s 2.0: The Harvest Festival celebration Friday at Curl Market.

The celebration will include a variety of traditional Indian festivals including Pongal and Sankranti — both of which are celebrated in the southern region of India.

“Basically, this is a celebration of having a wonderful harvest season,” Megha Bhagavan, a fourth-year in psychology and the outreach chair of ISA, said.

Mahek Shah, president of ISA and a fifth-year in information systems and economics, said southern Indian culture differs greatly from northern Indian culture and often does not get as much mainstream exposure.

Harvest Festival culture includes kite-flying, singing, dancing, food and traditional Indian clothing. ISA has re-created these traditions through a kite-decorating activity; a performance by Ohio State’s South Asian a capella group, Dhadkan; and customary Indian food.

Bhagavan said the intention of the festival is to expose a larger audience to Indian culture.

“We want [students] to understand that our mission is to bridge the gap between India and the United States,” Bhagavan said. ”We want them to feel at home.”

The Harvest Festival also has a philanthropic agenda. Admission for the event is a $5 donation, three canned food items or an item from the donation list for the nonprofit Sakhi for South Asian Women.

Sakhi for South Asian Women exists to end violence against women, especially those of South-Asian descent. Its donation list comprises winter gear for women and children, but also includes toiletries and hygiene products. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the charity.

ISA has been successful in its efforts toward philanthropy, raising more than $3,000 last semester. Shah said ISA hopes to continue its charitable efforts into the future.

“This event is two-faceted — not only to welcome in the new year and make new friends, but to learn about a new culture that you may have not been aware of,” Shah said.

While this event is fairly new, the success of the 2018 celebration has inspired ISA to continue the tradition. The second annual ISA Harvest Festival is Friday in Curl Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is based on donation.

 

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