By Contributing Writer Abigail Field
On Saturday, October 20th, the Pakistani Student Association hosted its second annual Mehndi Night in the Woodland Commons, and it was a night all who were in attendance are sure to remember. Upon entering the building, guests were met with the smell of delicious food that they would later be able to partake in, as well as beautiful Pakistani decorations throughout the entrance hall, as well as the event hall. The event itself boasted a dance floor and tables for guests.
The night commenced with speeches from Provost Mohammed Karim, Vice Chancellor Shannon Finning, and Vice Chancellor for Talent and Chief Diversity Officer Angela Callahan. Provost Karim’s speech consisted of interesting facts and information about the very diverse country of Pakistan. VC Finning’s speech discussed how the cultural inclusion and celebration at Umass Dartmouth was heartening given the insular and polarized nature of the world right now. VC for talent and Diversity Officer Callahan’s speech touched on the “cultural competency” of an event such as this.
Following speeches, introductions to the event were made. Mehndi Night is a celebration of the culture around Pakistani weddings in particular, and this event certainly did not disappoint. Numerous dance numbers, songs, and scenes from a traditional Pakistani wedding were preformed, many with involvement from guests. A particularly exciting part was when guests were invited to feed the “bride” and “groom” sweets and wave money over their heads. In a real wedding with real money, guests were informed, this money would have later been given to charity.
Following riveting dancing from the Step team as well as Pakistani dancers, guests were encouraged to partake in utterly delicious food which had been laid out on tables in the entrance hall. Once everyone had gotten their food, there was a mesmerizing belly dance performance. Finally, the “bride” and “groom” were “married” and there was more dancing and singing. It was a truly beautiful event that was a joy to be a guest at.
Osamah Maqsood (Marketing, 2020) is the president of the Pakistani Student Association, and Mehndi Night was his idea, implemented first last year. Additionally, he choreographed the dances. “We wanted to show Pakistani wedding culture to the United States, to Umass Dartmouth,” he said. “We got to show song, dance, and celebrate couples and marriage. We were able to bring that culture here so everyone could enjoy it. There is a stereotype that Pakistan is not safe, and that is simply not true! It has very rich culture. Sing and dance with us! Taste the food!” He also went on to say that, as far as he has been able to find, Umass Dartmouth is the only school to have had this kind of event.
Attendees absolutely loved the event. “This is the first time I have attended Mehndi Night,” said Bhumi Patel (Biology, 2020), “I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved the performances and how similar it was to my culture.”
There indeed was a general excitement going into the night about what to expect. “I saw it last year and they said they’re going to beat it!” Provost Karim had said prior to the commencement of the event. This seemed to be the consensus, and people were certainly not disappointed.
“The dance numbers were exhilarating!” Jacob Hunsinger (English and History, 2020) said. “I especially enjoyed the Step team incorporating Pakistani dance moves into their routine.”
And so, it would behoove the reader to go to the third annual Mehndi Night on campus come Fall 2020. That is, of course, only if they’re interested in having an amazing time!