Mayur Show showcases South Asian culture

Credit: Theodore Teichman/Assistant Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Assistant Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Assistant Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Assistant Photo Editor

On Saturday evening, students gathered in Rangos Auditorium to watch the annual Mayur Show. This year’s theme was “Meet the Kapoors,” and featured various dance and vocal performances. The show was arranged by Mayur, the South Asian Student Association. The “hosts” of the show were the imaginary Kapoor family and Simran Patel, portrayed as a stereotypical Indian family and their soon-to-be daughter-in-law.

Simran is completely ignorant of her Indian roots, having grown up in the United States. She falls in love with and gets engaged to Ranjeet Kapoor, who has recently moved to the U.S. from India. He wants Simran to appreciate his culture and he invites her to visit India to meet his parents. Ranjeet and Simran then and go on a journey through their home country, beginning in South India. The first was a performance was by CMU Payal. The traditional South Indian dance featured a skit depicting scenes from the Hindu holy scripture, Ramayana.

Some of the teams that participated were from outside Carnegie Mellon. Notable groups included Pitt Avaaz and Pitt Zisha, vocal performance and dance teams, respectively, run by South Asian students from the University of Pittsburgh. One of the highlights of the first half of the show was a solo called “Gaurav and his Ukuleke,” in which first-year engineering major Gaurav Balakrishnan expertly played his instrument while singing in both Hindi and English. A brief intermission was bookended by two fashion shows, one featuring Western styles and the other, Indian. All the while, the Kapoors were making light on the differences between Indian and American culture, coming on stage to introduce acts.

CMU Bhangra brought a flavor of North India to the show in the second half, as the Kapoors shared their Punjabi heritage with Simran. The loud, celebratory dance is native to the Punjab region, and one of the biggest dance activities on campus. Vocal performances by the Saans, Avaaz, and Deewane a capella groups blended American and Indian music. Singers started off with American pop songs and transitioned back and forth with traditional and contemporary Indian songs. After Simran performs in Sahara, Carnegie Mellon’s newest Indian dance team, the Kapoors conclude that she is suitable to marry their son. Simran learns the virtues of Indian culture, while at the same time preserving her American upbringing, a sentiment shared by many Indian-Americans who live in between two unique cultures. Ranjeet also takes in Simran’s culture by learning how to rap, (though not up to Simran’s standards). The couple lives happily ever after.

The performances were wrapped up by local Indian-American singer/songwriter Jai Matt. The crowd went wild when the singer pulled event-goers up on stage to dance. Next, the long-awaited meal was an opportunity for the audience to interact with the performers. The food was catered by various Pittsburgh-area South Asian restaurants — Silk Elephant, Tamarind, and Ali Baba.

Mayur, in particular, celebrates all South Asian cultures, across all religious and linguistic bounds. It is responsible for events like the Diwali-Eid Gala, which celebrates both Hindu and Islamic holidays. As the largest South Asian organization on campus, one of Mayur’s goals is to promote interest in South Asian culture by reaching out to “students of other nations and cultures.” This theme was evident not only in the diversity of the audience, but by that of the performers as well.

All of the proceeds of this year’s Mayur show will be donated to relief efforts for the Chennai Floods. Chennai and other parts of South India were inundated after record rainfall in November and December last year. The floods killed at least 500 people, and inflicted severe damage on the region’s infrastructure. Recovery is an ongoing process.
Overall, the event was successful in bringing together a diverse audience and exposing them to different South Asian performances both on and off campus. Following the main show was an after-party at the Loft in Shadyside, with more performances by Jai Matt.

Students of Indian background make up a large percentage of both the undergraduate and graduate population here at Carnegie Mellon. Many clubs, including Mayur, are dedicated to celebrating Indian culture and, for many Indian Americans, they are a good way to stay attuned to their heritage.