Aesha Patel: Co-President of the UConn Indian Students Association

Name: Aesha Patel

Year & Major: Senior/Physiology and Neurobiology

Hometown: Westfield, MA

Q: Can you describe the organization you're involved in?

A: The Indian Students Association (ISA) is a cultural and philanthropic organization that strives to enrich the UConn campus with Indian culture. We host many large-scale events that are open to anyone and everyone on campus, and you don’t have to be a part of ISA to come to them. I love this group because it helps me stay in touch with my roots despite being so far from home. ISA is really like a family.

Q: How long have you been a part of ISA and what is your current position in it now?

A: I joined the Indian Students Association during the spring of my freshman year. It was the best decision I have ever made. I know many students say that joining a club can change them, but the impact that this organization has made on me is something I am so thankful for. Because of this group, I have been put in a position where I can make an impact at UConn. I am currently the Co-President of the organization, and this year I will be jumpstarting an initiative to bring school supplies, shoes, and backpacks to an orphanage in India. It’s something I am very proud of and excited about!

Q: What are the type of events that ISA hosts? 

A: ISA hosts many cultural events to celebrate holidays like Garba, Diwali, and Holi. We also have philanthropic and social justice events to raise awareness about big issues in the Indian community. Our biggest event of the year, the Diwali Show, is actually coming up soon on November 4th at 6:00 p.m. in Rome Ballroom. We, as a board, look forward to this event so much because we get to really make it our own and customize it every year. We have student performances, Indian food, and also put on a skit to explain the story of Diwali. We have an extra fun spin on the Diwali story this year so everyone should definitely come and check it out!

Q: Can you tell me a little about the Festival of Diwali?

A: There are actually five days of Diwali, but the actual day of Diwali is historically the story about Lord Ram. He triumphs over the Demon King Ravan who had kidnapped his wife Sita. To celebrate this day, everyone lit candles and lamps all over the kingdom to celebrate Ram coming home with Sita. Diwali today is taught as a holiday that teaches people that good will always triumph over evil, or light over darkness. The Festival of Diwali is celebrated as the Indian New Year where people wear new clothes, eat amazing food, go meet all of their friends and family to wish them the new year and light candles and firecrackers at night. It’s my favorite time of the year!

Q: How long does it take you to plan the Diwali show?

A: Oh gosh, a better part of this whole semester goes into planning this event. This event takes so much time and requires a lot of attention to detail because of the number of performances, planning the skit, coordinating the food, decorations, lighting, etc. It’s a lot of work but it always pays off because the community comes together and celebrates an auspicious day.

Q: Who typically performs at the show?

A: The performances at the show are usually centered around UConn dance teams, a cappella groups, and individuals in the community that want to perform. The colors, music and liveliness of the event is really attributed to the many performances that we have.

Q: When and where is the Diwali show this year?

A: It will be in Rome Ballroom at 6:00 p.m. on November 4th. Everyone should come for the food, music and performances. It will be a great time!

Q: Anything else you want us to know about ISA or the Diwali show?

A: You don’t have to be a part of ISA to enjoy all that this organization has to offer! The show is completely free and open to anyone that wants to come; we love to see Indians and non-Indians come to the show because that means ISA is actually spreading cultural awareness and that's what we're all about.

 

Come out to the Diwali show to see all the hard work Aesha and the rest of the ISA board did!

All photos courtesy of Aesha Patel and Kim Sun.