BNB proceeds will go toward ending child marriage in India

February 6, 2020 — by Selena Liu and Viraaj Reddi and Kaasha Minocha

The Indian Cultural Awareness Club’s officers and choreographers have been planning this year’s Feb. 14 and 15 Bombay in the Bay (BNB) performance for months. BNB, ICAC’s annual Bollywood dance show, features multiple dances that participants audition for as well as ones they don’t. Dancers can be beginners, experts or anywhere in between. 

The acts include a classical dance, freshman dance, singing performance, sophomore dance, bhangra dance, tamasha dance, junior dance, senior dance, all-girls dance, and all-boys dance. The entire performance will take about one hour and all acts will have unique costume designs. While both shows will include all the acts, the performance’s first night will be $15 per ticket, and the second night will be $20, because of the addition of food trucks.

This year, all BNB profits will be donated to a non-profit organization in India called Vikalp Sansthan, which is dedicated to ending child marriage by empowering girls and educating boys and men about women’s rights. 

While BNB profits are usually targeted toward education, this year’s charity is focused on a unique social issue that ICAC hasn’t worked with before, according to senior officer Krisha Minocha.

One of Vikalp’s founders, Usha Choudhary, has been working to stop child marriage in Rajasthan, India, a region with over 68 million people, for more than 17 years. 

When Choudhary was 14, she visited her grandparents’ house. There, she met some guests, whom she believed had just come to visit her family. Soon, she realized her relatives were wedding her to a man 10 years her senior.  

“I was treated like a doll. They brought ornaments, fruits, decorations and completed the ceremony within 10 minutes. I was shocked at what was happening to me,” Choudhary said. 

Choudhary, after several fights with her family, successfully stopped her own marriage. That also inspired her to continue her own education. 

After this experience, Choudhary decided to create change and began to empower other girls in Rajasthan to stand up for their rights. By holding workshops to foster self-love and self-respect in the girls, Choudhary hopes they become comfortable advocating for their goals and their rights — including their right to an education. 

Additionally, Choudhary and her colleagues inspire girls to participate in sports to encourage higher self-confidence, stronger social support systems and improved physical and mental health. 

When Choudhary traveled to California to get a feel of American culture last September, Minocha reached out to  meet and discuss Vikalp. Minocha also wanted Choudhary to give a small presentation at her home about what Vikalp’s mission is to Saratoga women. 

“I knew we were donating the money to the right people as 

Choudhary and her colleagues are so passionate about what they do. We know whatever we give them will be greatly appreciated and used for something extremely meaningful,” Minocha said. 

Meanwhile, to work toward creating the best performance possible, choreographers like Riya Lodha have been teaching dances since the beginning of the second semester. ICAC officers have also been coordinating other aspects of the event, such as performance decorations and ticket prices, since October, and the officers are expecting around 200 performers and 900 audience members on the day of the show.

As a three-year BNB participant, senior officer Rishi Jain emphasized how the officer team took into consideration mistakes from previous BNB performances to help make decisions about this year’s event. For example, the officer team has decided to replace their traditional post-performance dinner with food trucks. 

“In past years, there was always dinner included, but not many people ate the food, so this year we’re trying to de-emphasize the food aspect by giving less food with food trucks,” Jain said.

Beyond adjusting their performances from previous years, the officers have been working to overcome various obstacles. 

Along with social studies teacher Hana Chen, campus supervisor Helen Jarrett has been added as an adviser; their splitting of duties has posed a challenge for the officers, according to Jain. 

Lodha also spoke about the challenges of organizing the dances, noting that availability was a major issue. 

“People just can’t come to practices on time or they have prior commitments, and you have to teach them the same dance separately over and over again,” she said. 

In addition, dances from different grade levels conflict. Senior officer Vishnu Seshadri noted that grade levels often clash when dances want to use the same songs or costume colors, but upperclassmen ultimately have priority.

Despite the conflicts and challenges, Jain looks forward to a successful BNB performance and hopes for good attendance at the event.

“The whole show comes together to combine the efforts of all of our performers and is definitely a team-dependent event,” Jain said. “We hope that this year’s BNB performance will be the best one yet.”

 

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