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A Night in Gujarat at Western University

Western’s Gujarati Students’ Association celebrated their heritage and culture on November 29th at the University Community Centre with their event, “A Night in Gujarat.”           A group photo from the Gujarati Students’ Association Facebook Page

The event was free for members and non-members, encouraging Western students of all backgrounds to take part in the activities. Throughout the night, approximately 65 students attended the event.

The Gujarati Students’ Association was founded two years ago and became a University Students’ Council ratified club only last year. One of the co-founders, Karan Vansjalia—completing their honors specialization in physiology—stated, “One of the best decisions I have made thus far in my life is this club. Western University is one of the most diverse universities in Ontario, and has the largest Gujarati population.”

Gujarat is a state in India that borders Pakistan. The state is influenced by many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam, making it very culturally diverse.

“What we as a club try to showcase is a sense of family—it doesn’t matter where you came from or what you believe. We are all a part of the same Western community, giving us all a reason to come together and celebrate our differences,” says Ashka Shah the co-president of the club and a fourth year student pursuing her double major in medical sciences and biology.

The night began with a trivia game in which attendees could test their knowledge on Gujarat and Indian culture.

“Honestly, I had forgotten a lot of the things the game asked us… it felt refreshing remembering what my parents told me while was growing up and re-living those experiences with a little friendly competition,” says Sahil Kothari, a second year student completing his honors specialization in chemistry.

The questions covered topics on geographical knowledge about India, traditional cuisine in the Gujarati culture, and famous Bollywood stars and their songs.

Following the trivia game, the room was split up into many stations where attendees could choose between playing cards, playing Bollywood charades or playing the traditional Gujarati game Carrom. Similar to billiards and shuffleboard, Carrom is a “strike and pocket” table game of South Asian origin.           Picture of a person playing Carrom by PBase

Another feature of the night was the photobooth and henna tattoos. The photobooth consisted of customized props including speech bubbles with common Gujarati sayings on them. Many individuals also took part in getting henna tattoos done, a very common tradition in not just Gujarati, but many South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.           A photobooth picture from the Gujarati Students’ Association Facebook Page

The final portion of the night was a small dance set up by the executive team, playing Bollywood and Garba songs, which are traditional Gujarati folk songs.

Other events the Gujarati Students’ Association hosts are: dance performances with their Garba team, the annual Garba event in collaboration with the Hindu Students’ Association and “Kai Po Che” (the Indian kite festival).

To learn more about the heritage of Gujarat and get involved in the club’s activities, visit their Facebook page!

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Saloni Pandya has graduated from the University of Western Ontario, with a double major in Health Sciences and Globalization.Currently, Saloni is pursuing an MSc in interdisciplinary sciences all the while editing news articles for fellow reporters. She enjoys learning, from biology to issues on the global scale. However, when Saloni is not caught up in her work, you can find her reading a good John Green book or binge watching a show on Netflix.
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