Indian Nationality Room Committee celebrates Republic Day with traditional music, dance


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

People participate in a celebration of India’s Republic Day on Sunday.

By Renee Dubaich, Staff Writer

Attendees enjoyed Bharatham dance performances, Hindi music and snacking on samosas and pakoras to celebrate Indian culture. The event honored India’s Republic Day, the national holiday commemorating India’s independence as a nation.

About 150 students, staff and community members attended the celebration at the Frick Fine Arts Building on Sunday. There were cookies and Indian appetizers made with potatoes, veggies, turmeric and chutney for attendees to snack on. The Indian Nationality Room Committee organized the event in collaboration with Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, the Asian Studies Center and Screenshot: ASIA.

The celebration began with the performances of the Indian National Anthem and India’s national song, “Vande Mataram.” Various Indian dances followed, each with different themes and narratives, portraying India’s beautiful landscapes and the three distinct Hindu deities — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The audience was lively, clapping and cheering through the performances, and singing along to the beloved patriotic song, “Mera Joota Hai Japani” from the famed Bollywood film “Shree 420.”

The various traditional dances performed were in the style of Bharatanatyam, folk and fusion. Bharatanatyam is a popular Indian classical dance characterized by Hindu religious themes and spiritual ideas represented by impressive footwork and controlled gestures. The dancers wore colorful and vibrant dresses adorned with bangles, bells and maang tikkas.

Ellen Porter from South Hills said she attended the event because she is a member of the Swiss Room Committee that helps raise money for the Swiss nationality room at Pitt. She said she attends events like this regularly and loves to check them out.

“I love Indian culture,” Porter said. “I have some friends that we met here, so we just wanted to check it out. I think all of the dancing was just amazing, how varied it was, how all the costumes were unique and different styles and it was really moving. It was fun. When they had the last song printed with words, I was learning Hindi so I could recognize some words, it was cool that we could sing along.”

Ranjani Shankar, chair of the Indian Nationality Room Committee, expressed her excitement for this first-time celebration at Pitt. She said the event was a way to get people involved with other Indian cultural events hosted by the committee. 

“Today’s event is based off of India’s Republic Day,” Shankar said. “This is the first time for us to host this event and I hope it is a success. Usually in a year, we just hold one event for India’s Independence Day. So this is the first time we are doing it here along with Asian Studies.”

Republic Day is a widely celebrated national holiday in India on January 26, commemorating the day the Constitution of India went into effect.

Rashmi Ravindra, a member of the Indian Nationality Room Committee, said the event came about largely due to an eagerness for in-person events as COVID-19 restrictions have loosened.

“For us, in the nationality room, we never did the Republic Day earlier, but this year we thought since these past three years we hadn’t had any in-person celebration,” Ravindra said. “So we thought we could make a beginning and start the year with an in-person event.”