Dancing for charity and culture

Surabhi Srivastava

A night of crazy music, jumping beats and exposure to Indian culture

Fall is a season with changes in the air and a spread of vibrant colors. It also comes with a change in entertainment. For the Indian community, fall marks the season for Dandiya.
Rather than sitting back and watching the show, Dandiya is a handson, or rather, stickson event where everyone participates in several styles of dances. These styles include clashing sticks in large circle formations that people join in gigantic groups in order to celebrate a religious Hindu festival.
The Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) has a reputation for hosting the best Dandiyas in the Bay Area. SEF, a charitybased foundation, helps collect money for eye treatmentfor the blind in India. This, along with the fact that it hosted this Dandiya at the Santa Clara Convention Center, which has the capacity to fit 3,500 people, made it one of the most popular Dandiyas in the area.

With its large capacity, the SEF dandiya catered to a wide variety of people. Walking into the Santa Clara Convention Center, countless types of groups can be found: middle-aged women on a night out, an Indian who brought his non-Indian coworkers along for a cultural experience, a massive group of high school students mingling with one another.

"My experience at the SEF dandiya was really good. It’s a huge place with a lot of people so you can really have fun dancing with not only your friends but also with all the new people you get to meet," senior Sita Kumar said, who is a frequent participant in dandiyas.
The Dandiya was not only rich in its chances for forming social connections but it was also filled with high energy and quality music.

"It was loud, and my throat hurt [from singing along]. It was fun though. The beats were rocking and the music was pumping and it was a crazy night with my brown friends," senior Suhas Shekar said.

The SEF Dandiya attracted many students from not only MVHS, but also from schools in FUHSD and other neighboring school districts. Members of Mountain View High School’s Indian club came together as a group to reconnect with their culture. Students from different schools also had a chance to meet and build a network with each other. The most prominent reason the popularity of these Dandiyas has been growing each year is the positive review passed along by word of mouth.

"I went to the SEF dandiya because some of my friends said they were going and they said from past years that it was really fun and you meet a bunch of new people our age there," junior Pavan Kanekal said. "This is the first year I went and I’ll probably go again next year and try to bring more friends."