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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The remarkable thing about Mela

Published: November 21, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

MELA MAGIC-MAKERS: From left to right, Kamolika Roy ‘09, Shannon Cabell ‘09, and G. Athena Oliver-O ‘10 are Mela participants.<br /><br /><i>PHOTO BY Napoleon Lherisson/The Hoot</i>

MELA MAGIC-MAKERS: From left to right, Kamolika Roy ‘09, Shannon Cabell ‘09, and G. Athena Oliver-O ‘10 are Mela participants.

PHOTO BY Napoleon Lherisson/The Hoot

The remarkable thing about Mela is people from eight different countries—Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan–come together as South Asians to create a beautiful illustration of their culture, the masterpiece that we know as Mela. As a Pakistani- American and a South Asian, I could honestly never get tired of watching this thrilling show. It makes you feel like you are in South Asia with out even leaving Brandeis. This show is definitely worth seeing and always a magical experience.

Words could never do justice to the beauty of South Asia and many of its people. It is a region of the world that will always hold a special place in my heart. Mela is full of energy and excitement and a representation of this enchanting beauty within South Asia. It is a dazzling display of lights, colors, song, dance, poetry, jewelry, music, food, fashion, and so much more!

So lovely is the sound of the poetic, fluid languages and the music filled with beautiful rhythms, emotions, and energy—all about love, happiness and friendship.

The sound of pianos, flutes, violins, drums, guitars, sitars, tablas, dholkis, and harmoniums create the most magical melodies. The very beautiful classical dance—with foot and hand movements and gestures that flow gracefully with the music and translate into so many different emotions all flowing like water—is one with music.

The dancing spreads a happy energy that becomes contagious, allowing even the most unwilling of dancers to have a thrilling time. The culture is a vibrant celebration of life, love, joy, and happiness.

Mela is a lovely illustration of the joy of being South Asian and this vibrant culture which is so much a part of our lives at SASA. Like a patchwork quilt we are all different, but we come together as one to produce something completely amazing. And this is the essence of the Mela that we must always love.

South Asia itself is made up of many different people representing a number of religions including Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, and others. So many different languages are spoken: English, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Pashto, Balochi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Marathi, Guajarati, Nepalese, Sinhalese, Sanskrit, Dhivehi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and the list could really go on forever. Languages may be modified or change completely but the power and message of these words will live on in a very special way.

Whatever language one may speak or country one may be from, the people of South Asian share a fascination with the arts, poetry, literature, dance, drama, music. Even as we move forward, these precious gifts and treasures continue to be important elements of the culture. While Mela may just last one evening, the immense passion and enthusiasm will be in the hearts and everyday lives of South Asians. Whatever happens, the love will always survive.

The different voices and ideas of all the students combine to produce all the separate acts intertwined by a common theme of rediscovering our roots. It is possible to embrace one’s roots and simultaneously adopt elements of new cultures in a very creative and seamless manner. Being open to new ideas is the very thing that allows us to move forward. This idea of blending elements is not new to South Asia, which has ancient Indus, Turkish, Persian, Arab, Chinese, and Aryan influences constantly shaping and reshaping our conceptions of culture.

Mela is a mix of the new and old, traditional and modern, exotic and familiar, just like our heritages. You really have to be there to get a full idea. Discovering the voice and rhythm within us and never letting it fade away is the true essence of our heritage. It is reminder that once you discover your true passion or talent, you must never let it go to waste. You may be surprised what you discover along the way.

The best thing about Mela is being able to share our heritage with all of Brandeis. Every single country has its own wonderful qualities, and there could never be enough hours to fully explore all of the magical treasures with South Asia. It’s simply wonderful!

Equally wonderful are the special students behind the show. Everyone works hard to make the show special, spending an entire semester planning and practicing. It is easy to see how much they care about their culture and love what they are doing. Mela would not be possible without the earnest devotion of every single member of SASA.

This article is a tribute to the special people within South Asia and all those who make Mela possible at Brandeis.

May that lovely spirit that brought us here always live on and continue to be a source of beautiful hope and pride.