Traditional dance performances and classical Indian music illustrate the deeper meaning and history of yoga beyond the West’s idea that the activity is simply an exercise.
The Milan, a classical Indian arts showcase, took place on Saturday night in the Student Activities Center. Put on by the Hindu Students Association, the show was a culmination of the group’s efforts to educate students about Hindu culture during Hinduism Awareness Week.
Biochemistry junior and HSA co-chairman Karthik Bande said the primary focus of Hinduism Awareness Week and the Milan showcase was to show students there are several forms of yoga, which originated from Hinduism.
“The yoga classes many people go to today represent only one aspect of all the yogas described in Hinduism. They only practice Hatha, the physical kind of yoga. There’s also yoga of the mind and yoga of the spirit,” he said.
Bande said he hopes that Milan will help students recognize the Hindi values in the type of yoga most people are familiar with.
“If you go to a yoga session, they don’t explain how it ties into Hinduism or pay proper respect to it,” Bande said. “In putting on this event, we’re trying to bring awareness to that aspect.”
Bande said the event featured music and dance performances to show that yoga can be visually displayed in ways other than stretches and poses.
“You can practice yoga by singing or dancing, and that’s what the purpose of this event was,” Bande said.
Sirisha Pokala, HSA co-chairman and nutrition sophomore, said she shared Bande’s sentiments about yoga and the importance of educating people about it. Pokala said the HSA chose to focus on yoga because it has become so popular recently.
“We figured a lot of people would be interested in the events we coordinated for ‘Awareness Week’ since yoga’s something everyone really likes and would like to know more about,” she said.
Pokala said HSA organizes several other events throughout the year that have large turnouts but are not as openly educational about Hindu values.
“It’s really nice to have a week like this where people can actually learn about Hinduism and what it stands for,” she said.
Vishaal Sapuram, Asian cultures and languages senior, performed in the arts showcase, where he played classical Indian music on a traditional stringed instrument called a chitravina. Sapuram has been widely acclaimed for his musical talents and has had television performances in Malaysia and India.
In performing in the Milan showcase, Sapuram said he hoped to be a good representative of Hindu culture and said he felt the event was significant because of the perspective it provided to students.
“It’s important for people to see traditional values and what is meaningful to a lot of people in a different part of the world,” Sapuram said.
Printed on Monday, February 20, 2012 as: 'Hindu Awareness Week' reveals yoga's original values