Students celebrate culture, cuisine at Gateway to India

By Ian Currie

For one day every year, Waco transforms from a city in the heart of Texas into a journey through the Indian subcontinent.

The Indian Subcontinent Student Association will present the 19th annual Gateway to India on Saturday. The day features two main events, the 19th annual Culture Show and the sixth annual Taste of India.

The Culture Show will take place inside Waco Hall, with Taste of India taking place immediately afterwards outside Waco Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

The show will feature a variety of cultural performances: dances, songs and a fashion show. The Taste of India will provide attendees an opportunity to discover the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent.

The culture show will be hosted by Superwoman, a Canadian Youtube artist of Indian descent, who creates and uploads videos online. Her most popular videos often gain over 3 million views and cover a range of topics from Bollywood to family relationships. She also tours the nation presenting comedy shows and hosting events.

Dallas sophomore Sahar Bhojani, who is a culture show chair for ISSA, said Superwoman is a massive attraction and a big drawing card for the event.

“We are excited to have found someone famous, funny and culturally appropriate,” Bhojani said. “She has all the qualities we were looking for in an emcee.”

The event will be the first time that Superwoman performs in Texas.

The seven acts will compete for cash prizes that range from $100 to $500. All the acts qualified through an audition process held the ISSA, who determined which acts would perform at the event. Auditions ran between December and January, and acts found out that they were performing at the end of February.

These acts will compete in a single category competition. The acts include fusion dance teams and singers.

There are also three exhibition acts, who are not competing, all made up of Baylor students. The ISSA also has a non-competitive dance team performing at the event.

Longview sophomore Kinjal Patel attended the event last year for the first time and enjoyed it so much she joined the ISSA dance team to perform at this year’s event.

“The cultural dances were fantastic,” Patel said, “I will be performing this year with ISSA’s own dance team.”

Another important feature of the Culture Show is the fashion show, where anyone can take part.

Participants dressed in cultural apparel will have an opportunity to walk the runway.

All participants in the fashion show are from Baylor.

“It is an evening full of entertainment and enjoyment,” Bhojani said, “Gateway to India is a good night to spend with friends and family.”

Dallas junior Aleena Daredia, Culture Show chair, said the show’s variety of performances are important to the event’s overall success.

“It is more impactful to experience and understand culture, rather than merely being told about it,” Daredia said.

The show chairs hope to increase cultural awareness at Baylor through this event.

The university has been helpful in the organization of the show, with the Department of Multicultural Affairs, student government and Baylor Activities Council all helping in the organization of the event.

The event routinely draws over 1500 people, from Waco and surrounding areas.

“A lot of people are excited about the event, and that makes us excited,” Daredia said.

The Taste of India portion of the event will feature a variety of finger foods, including samosas and naan bread.

The entertainment for this portion of the event is a performance by Bollywood fusion rappers, who will be releasing many of their songs at the event.