Shakti's Sangamam chronicles South Asian culinary, cultural traditions

Shakti, Geneseo’s South Asian culture club,  led its guests on an adventure in its annual Sangamam dinner on Saturday March 2.

This year’s theme expanded beyond India’s culture and highlighted the similarities and differences among the numerous South Asian countries.

“I think when people think of Shakti they usually just think of India,” Shakti Treasurer sophomore Ramsha Ansari said. Ansari also contributed as co-director and stage manager of the evening’s performance. “There’s a lot [more] to South Asia than people might think.”

The night began with an impressive buffet. Shakti tried to reflect the cultural differences in the food dishes as well, according to Ansari, with vegetarian fried rice from Sri Lankan culture, chicken makhani from India and gobi manchurian from Pakistan. Other dishes included bhel puri, beef kabobs, samosas, aloo curry and naan.

For dessert, mango shrikhand was served to represent all the South Asian cultures together as mango is a popular fruit throughout the region, according to Ansari.

The evening featured a performance titled, “Aajao: Let the Adventure Begin.” The story began with two strangers facing pressures about their future endeavors. Riya and Sameer, played by senior Diana Monno and junior Haider Murtaza, respectively, decided to escape their everyday lives. Their paths crossed and from there, they embarked on a journey to some of South Asia’s most celebrated cities.

Riya and Sameer traveled to Kashmir, where they met an enthusiastic tour guide named Rohit played by junior Samrat Ashok. Rohit brought Riya and Sameer to the marketplace, where they met a fortuneteller - played by junior Reshma Nair - who foresaw love for Riya.

Next, Riya and Sameer crashed a wedding in Punjab with bhangra dancing provided by Geneseo Bhangra. At their last stop in Mumbai, India Riya and Sameer acted as extras in a Bollywood movie before their journey ended abruptly when Sameer confessed his true feelings for Riya. The two had a falling out before going their separate ways back to New York City.

After time apart, Riya and Sameer realized their true feelings for one another and the show ended with the two continuing their lifelong journey together.

“Every year we always get the comment, ‘The story line’s always focused on India,’ so this year that’s why we wanted to do the traveling,” Shakti Co-President junior Chamodi Rajapakse said.

After final bows, Shakti executive board members honored senior Asav Vora, who served as president for five semesters until spring 2013. Senior Zac Clark who handles public relations for the organization was also recognized for his enthusiasm, directing and decorating abilities.