The GW Pakistani Students Association hosted a vibrant kick-off to South Asian Heritage Celebration month Friday night.
The event was called Rangeen, which means “colorful” in Hindi, and the decorations and performances throughout the night embodied the meaning. Rangeen was held in the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom and drew about 200 students from GW, American and Georgetown universities who danced and ate traditional Pakistani food.
Zan Mir and Shahzeb Mirza, both seniors and co-presidents of the group, said they aim to introduce people to the three cornerstones of Pakistani culture: food, hospitality and philanthropy. In the spirit of philanthropy, all proceeds from the $5 tickets went to the The Citizens Foundation, an organization that constructs and operates schools in underprivileged parts of Pakistan.
The co-presidents said more and more people have attended the celebration each year since their freshman year. The sense of community at Rangeen keeps members of the organization motivated when planning the event, Mir said.
“It’s important that the University takes a month out to celebrate South Asian culture,” Mir said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to showcase Pakistani culture.”
The evening was hosted by Pakistani social media star Muhammad Moiz, better known as Desi Bombshell, who is a Fulbright Scholar and graduate student studying global health policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.
He premiered two episodes in English of a Snapchat series he usually records in Urdu. In the series, Moiz takes on the persona of Shumaila Bhatti, a middle-class Pakistani girl living in the U.S.
The Continental Ballroom was transformed with flags that mimic those hanging in traditional Pakistani markets and activities for attendees, like a photo booth and henna tattoo station.
Treats like samosas, triangular pastries stuffed with an aromatic mix of curried potato and vegetables, and jalebis, deep fried dough in a pretzel shape coated in a sugary glaze, covered the buffet table.
Student dance groups, GW Raas and GW Chamak, performed both traditional dances and contemporary choreography throughout the night.
Mirza said members of South Asian student organizations support one another by attending their events and performances.
He said he hoped students who attended Rangeen learned more about Pakistani culture.
“We hope to promote a Pakistani culture that is more than just preconceived notions,” Mirza said.