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Students share their culture at 'A Night in India'

Armstrong's Pavilion C filled with the sound of popular Indian music, laughter and conversation. The smell of traditional Indian paneer tikka permeated the room while some ate, some played trivia games and others received henna tattoos. Some were even wearing traditional Indian clothing.

The Indian Students Association held its second-annual "A Night in India" event on Saturday night with the goal of spreading awareness and understanding of Indian culture.

The room was filled with different stations with information on the country of India and the organization's philanthropy projects, henna tattoos, a photo booth and a table of traditional Indian cuisine. Some members of ISA hosted trivia games with questions about Indian culture and history.

The Indian Students Association, or ISA, is a student-led organization consisting of roughly 70 students, Indian and non-Indian alike. They wish to both learn more about Indian culture and spread knowledge to other students on Miami's campus.

"Miami is not the most diverse school," said ISA president Shervani Patel. "We want to diversify it a little bit and bring our culture to Miami."

For the last two years, ISA has hosted the "A Night in India" event in order to spread knowledge and understanding of Indian culture, as well as to raise awareness of their annual Diwali event.

Diwali is a traditional Hindu holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, which signifies the triumph of light over darkness. ISA hosts a dance event in Hall Auditorium in order to celebrate Diwali and teach Miami students the importance of the holiday. Each year's Diwali event has a theme. This year's, called "How I Met Your Bhabhi," is themed after the popular sitcom "How I Met Your Mother."

ISA also hosts a large event in the spring in order to celebrate Holi, another Hindu holiday, which celebrates the arrival of spring. This event takes place in central quad, where participants throw colored powder at each other.

In addition to the events ISA hosts, it completes a philanthropy project each semester. This year's project, which was advertised at Saturday's event, is raising money to donate to World Relief in order to help the victims of the three hurricanes that ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico this summer.

ISA hosts a "Bridge to Asia" dinner every year in order to raise money for its philanthropy projects. At this event, members of ISA cook lots of traditional Indian food and charge $5 attendance. All of the money raised from the event goes to the philanthropy fund, which makes it possible for ISA to complete its projects.

ISA also hosts several smaller events throughout the semester, such as blood drives and fundraisers at Chipotle.

One of the organization's main goals is to help Indian students maintain their traditions.

According to Tulsi Patel, the Diwali Co-Chair, she became involved with ISA for just that reason.

"I've always been a part of the Indian culture," Patel said. "I love dancing, and my culture means a lot to me. I was born and raised in America, but I really like having two different cultures."

Students interested in learning more about Indian culture, or becoming more in touch with their Indian roots, can email the president, Shervani Patel, to express interest.