SABA Diwali Show-Lights, Bhangra, Action

One hundred backless/halter neck sari blouses, skin-tight churidar kameezes, peacock dancing caps, limb snapping dance moves, unabashed choreography, MIB wannabes, plenitude of Tanishq jewelry and heavy-duty Samosas in Burden Hall on a Saturday evening? The occasion-the awaited and uproarious Annual SABA Diwali show of course!

With India lodging a population of 1.1 billion people, 200 million cows (check Wikipedia folks, I’m not making it up! India is the only country which has a bill of rights for cows), over 1000 ethnic groups, and 1500 regional dialects-it was hardly surprising to see that Burden Hall engaged a zesty, savage and boisterous audience of 1000 HBS students on the evening of October 21.

Diwali, the Indian New Year, celebrates the emergence out of darkness and into light and knowledge. However, for SABA it was an emergence into color, extravagance and spirited exertion! Moving away from the dull grey, blue and black sweatshirts that shield us from the Boston chill, the SABA posse defied the evening nippiness for kaleidoscopic chiffon saris, chromatic silk sherwanis and vibrant pan-Asian fusion fashion gear.

While the non-HBS Indians of this planet were busy monopolizing the New York cabbie scene, coalescing the bhangra/hip-hop underground culture, engulfing the Silicon Valley, accumulating their medicine/ engineering degrees in hordes and churning out films at a healthier cycle time than Hollywood, the gallant SABA MCs spent their evening revealing their unexposed skill at ridiculing themselves.

The MCs’ jokes were crisp and risque, the commentary candid and the mimicry sumptuous. If present, the Public Speaking Club VPs would have fountained with tears of pride! The audience decided to do the next best thing-they rewarded the MCs with appreciative vivacious guffaws, deafening roars, and unadulterated laughter at every punctuation mark.

For people like me who had been busy hogging fish and chips in London instead of watching the latest John Abraham/ Bipasha Basu rain dance routines, the SABA Bollywood and classical dances provided a revision course in latest booty moves, Indian mythology and desi vogue. After all, only Bollywood can pack in salsa, garba, tap, foxtrot, Bhangra, a sultry rain-dance, tango and a waltz in a three minute film song.

The captivator of the evening was Bhangra. Bhangra, or the North Indian rhythm of the soul, encompasses a frantic dance that exercises almost all of the 600 muscles in your body. The EC and RC bhangra competition electrified the stage. The teams boomed, thundered, thudded, crunched and walloped-Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dog-please call the HBS RC team for hip-hop training sessions. We screamed our lungs off in allegiance to our sectionmates and gasped in horror, admiration and pure disbelief at the acrobatics.

Some of the RCs still sport hoarse throats and weak larynxes from all the vocal chord intensive cheering that went on in Burden last Saturday. Before I run off to grab my sore throat drops, Dear ECs-please note that you only won because you got the sympathy vote-we RCs rocked!

All those who could not attend the show can check out the RC/EC bhangra competition at

October 30, 2006
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