By Emily Bellavy
One of Ryerson’s newest student groups kicked off seven days of cultural awareness on Monday, with Incredible India: India Awareness Week.
“This event showcases Indian culture, food and traditions; it provides a chance for non-Indian students to learn about our culture,” said Falitaa Chhabra, vice-president of the Indian Students Association. Behind the teal pashmina that hung from the ceiling in the Credit Union Lounge, students were encouraged to listen to the sounds of booming Indian pop music, sample a saffron-infused biryani dish and study Bristol boards displaying a mosaic of information about the country.
“I love the Indian culture, especially the food,” said Lora Flanagan, a third-year business administration student. But the purpose of this event is not free mehndi tattoos and savoury food. It’s to introduce the Ryerson community to a prevailing Indian student demographic on campus, organizers said.
“We want to make it known that we (Indian students) exist on campus,” Chhabra said. “This association provides a platform for Indians to interact with each other and non-Indians who have an interest as well.”
The ISA was formed last November and currently has about 350 members. Chhabra said she helped bring the ISA into fruition because she grew tired of the lack of initiative to organize an Indian students’ group.
Alam Ashraful, RSU vice-president student life and events, is on the board that considers proposals for new student groups. He supported the establishment of the ISA. “India is the largest democratic country in the world and I’m glad that Ryerson is representing it,” he said.
Marilyn White, a third-year social work student, sees the ISA as an influential student group that could spread cultural diversity at Ryerson. “If (ISA) continues on, it will bring us closer together,” she said. At the end of the semester, Chhabra will graduate from the Hospitality and Tourism program and leave the association behind.
But, she says, she’ll be leaving the ISA in good hands. “We hope that people take this into the future,” she said.
Incredible India: India Awareness Week ends this Friday. The ISA hosts DJ Nasha at the Ram in the Rye this Friday. Doors open at 9 p.m.