Radiant costumes and rhythmic music filled Constitution Hall Saturday night as students celebrated GW’s win at the South Asian Society’s 9th Annual Bhangra Blowout.
GW won the 10-school competition for the third time since 1995, the most wins of any one team in the history of the competition. The University of Maryland won last year.
Ten Bhangra groups from colleges all over the country and Canada joined the dance competition this year to raise money for South Asian charities and the South Asian Society Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1998 with event proceeds. Money figures were unavailable by Sunday night.
The Blowout, co-sponsored by the Student Association and funded by club sponsors, started with an all-day carnival in the Smith Center and ended with an official Blowout after-party at the Old Post Office Pavilion.
Bhangra is a form of folk music and dance that originated in village regions of India andPakistan as well as the land of Punjab, which is a territory in northern India and western Pakistan. The event was part of the Program Board’s International Week.
More than 3,800 students, family members and residents in the sold-out crowd cheered as Cornell University was given the trophy for runner-up. They flooded the aisles when GW was awarded the winning title.
Five judges with expertise in Bhangra performances critiqued teams based on artistic and technical elements, traditionality and overall performance. Although GW walked away with the winning trophy, many students felt the most important part of the Blowout was the celebration of unity and culture.
“There are so many people, not just Indians, who participated,” said freshman Poonam Sood, SAS public relations chair. “This is a way to show our culture, have fun with it and, most importantly, show (it to) others.”
In addition to the student dance competition, the Bhangra Blowout invited other performance groups such as GW’s Liquid Arts Group, New York University’s New York Masti and Brown University’s Super Mega Hit Group to participate.
Freshman SAS member Monica Chawla agreed that cultural unity is the most important part of the event. She said that part of the reason she came to GW was to learn more about her own Indian heritage.
“People are competitive in this competition, but we are all just meeting each other and getting to know each other,” Chawla said. Student groups started auditioning to participate as early as January, and each team paid a $200 registration fee.
Bhangra Blowout was originally held at J Street but moved to Constitution Hall for the past three years because of growing popularity.
Emcees Nina Pabby, a second-year medical student, and sophomore Rupin Thomas hosted the show and provided comedy skits between each act.
“This year we decided to add more humor to the show and incorporate different acts,” Pabby said. “Our hope is that each year the show will get bigger and bigger.”
SAS President Vikas Gupta, a junior, said the event’s growth can be attributed to the growing number of students involved.
“We made it a point to advertise to the entire GW community,” Gupta said. “Knowing that everyone knows about Bhangra and the event makes us proud.”
Gupta said the competition has been growing so much each year that eventually they may have to hold it in the MCI Center.
“The greatest part of the event is that everyone celebrates together, and people come back all the way from places such as California each year to participate,” Gupta said.