As the name suggests, the Chinese Students Association’s Celebrasia event is designed to celebrate Asian culture, particularly through traditional food and performance art. However, Celebrasia is no melting pot. Saturday’s event aimed to honor the unique attributes of individual cultures, as well as recognize the connections between them.
“Celebrasia is the coming together of many different organizations to celebrate their different cultures and show that we’re not just a mass of Asians,” said Business senior Derek Siew, the CSA president. “There’s intricacies and differences between each Asian Culture.”
Held in East Hall’s Math Atrium, this year’s Celebrasia showcased 10 performances and featured 18 tables from various student organizations.
The event’s theme, “The Four Nations Festival,” played on the four elemental nations represented in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” a cartoon that drew much of its inspiration from Asian culture. The Math Atrium was decorated with symbols of the four nations — which are earth, water, fire and air — including colored streamers and lights.
The theme played a large role in displaying the intricacies of Asian culture. In the past, Celebrasia themes have received criticism for not relating to Asian culture, so this year, Engineering sophomore Eric Chan, a CSA representative, says the group aimed to change that.
“This is a pretty bold event,” he said. “Last year I know we did Harry Potter, and the year before we did something with pirates, but this year no one really expected ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ ”
All 18 participating organizations had their own tables, which were decorated to feature the Avatar theme as well as the culture represented by the organization. Groups present included the Filipino American Student Association, the Taiwanese American Student Association, the Vietnamese Student Association and the Japanese Student Association. At the tables, event attendees could sample food from the organizations’ cultures.
Engineering sophomore Vishal Subramanian said he came in part to see performances from his friends.
“I thought it would be a really enriching experience to come out here and taste the food and see what all of these organizations are about,” Subramanian said.
The song and dance performances included traditional and modern arrangements, and some that mixed elements of both. Some groups focused on entertainment while others had educational aspects in their performances. The Filipino American Student Association performed a tribal dance from the T’boli Tribe that traditionally celebrates a good harvest. The performance strayed from the stereotypical Filipino dance.
LSA junior Tiffany Lao, performance chair for FASA, said people often think Filipino dances are always light and happy, but that is not necessarily true.
“Usually there’s a lot of cutesy really smiley happy dances but there’s also more serious dances,” Lao said. “It’s a really multifaceted culture and we try to embrace all of it.”
In conjunction with the new emphasis on a more culturally relevant theme, the CSA organizers wanted to stress the full richness of Asian culture. In past years, Celebrasia has only hosted East Asian countries. LSA sophomore Christy Leung, the event’s co-chair, said they tried to invite groups representing more diverse countries this year.
“We invited SAAN — South Asian Awareness Network — and the Pakistani Student Association,” Leung said. “We really tried to branch out and add more diversity to our lineup this year.”
LSA junior Pareesa Memon, president of the Pakistani Student Association, was surprised by the invitation to participate in the event because the Asian community and South Asian community are usually separated.
“We just want to show that Pakistan is part of Asia and give it more of a presence in that realm because it usually isn’t recognized as such,” Memon said.