U celebration unites world traditions and cultures

Traditional dancing and drums accented the third-annual cultural celebration.

Liala Helal

Entering Coffman Union’s Great Hall was like joining a global adventure that gave hundreds of people a glance at cultures around the world Friday.

Salsa dancers shuffled across the stage. American Indians played drums in a thunderous powwow. Young Latino children dressed in white performed a traditional Flamenco dance. A Chinese Lion Dance flowed across the stage.

Held for the third-consecutive year, eight performances highlighted traditions that represent many University students’ ethnicities and cultures.

Approximately 400 people attended the event.

“Unlike any other cultural show at the University, this one brings people from every area of the world together,” said Haseeb Sahar, a University student and Sigma Lambda Beta president.

The multicultural fraternity organized the event with Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority. To put the event together, organizers said, they sought the participation of campus and community cultural organizations.

Performances included a Pakistani alternative rock band, a belly dancer and a spoken-word group.

Each year, organizers try to incorporate groups they haven’t had before, said main organizer James Anunciacion.

“To my knowledge, there’s never been such a large-scale event that brings together the very diverse community here at the ‘U,’ ” he said. “You don’t ever have events with various cultures from all over the world rolled into one celebration.”

Jenny Bergren, Sigma Lambda Gamma president, said event organizers strive for diversity.

“We try hard to get a variety of acts from all across the world,” she said.

Attendees also enjoyed a free dinner featuring cuisine from various areas of the world.

Anu Chericheril, who performed in the spoken-word group Voices Merging, said all the group’s members have different backgrounds but still come together when performing.

“Even though we’re all from different backgrounds, we all have this love for words, poetry and delivering how we feel,” she said.

Julia Littlewolf, an American Indian Student Cultural Center board member, who danced in the powwow, said she was glad to perform.

“It’s really experiencing your culture,” she said. “I grew up with these dances, and I’m glad to show my culture to people who don’t understand it.”

Pakistani alternative rock band Ahaan’s name means “something that touches your soul” in the Urdu language. All band members are University students.

“It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for,” bass player Fahad Siddiqui said.

He said he was proud to be part of bringing cultural awareness to the University.

“Most cultural events are culture-specific,” he said. “But this one was everything in one.”

At the end of the event, Anunciacion smiled and said “mission accomplished.”

The event gets more successful, bigger and better each year, organizers said.

“I hope people really continue to take the time to learn about other cultures and traditions. This was a way to learn about each other in a fun environment,” Sahar said.

University student Michele Sahar volunteered at the event. She said people of varying cultures should gather together more, and that’s what the event does.

“It’s funny that people choose to separate themselves by their culture, yet we’re all in this world together,” she said.