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The Daily Tar Heel

Sangam Mixes Comedy, Culture

About 400 people enjoyed a traditional Indian dinner before joining another 700 people to attend Sangam Nite Live, which included parodies of "Saturday Night Live" skits and a variety of song and dance performances by Sangam members, complete with an SNL band.

The estimated $400 to $500 in proceeds from the event go toward "HEELing India," a relief effort sponsored by Sangam and the Campus Y to support the tens of thousands of victims of the Jan. 26 earthquake in west India.

Freshmen Jayur Mehta and Udayan Seksaria organized the event. "Fund raising was especially done through the dinner that sold out of 400 tickets," Seksaria said. "The earthquake victims will get a huge profit from the dinner."

Seksaria said the SNL theme, mixed with an array of traditional Indian-culture shows, would help attract a more diverse crowd. "The 'Saturday Night Live' theme was chosen to support the concept of blending the East with the West," Seksaria said.

Traditional Indian dances, songs and dress alternating with skits such as the SNL cheerleaders and theme music from the band entertained the crowd.

Cultural arts expressed through performance varied from Bharat Natyam, one of India's oldest dance forms involving intricate hand gestures and facial expressions, to blends of hip hop and Indian rhythms, representing Indian-American culture in the United States.

Sangam members also used their voices and their clothing to share their cultural pride.

Sonia Daswani, vice president of Sangam and host of Sangam Nite Live, said a lot of effort was put into making the evening a success. Performers had their own rehearsal schedules that began three to four weeks before the show, Daswani said. Also, rehearsals for the entire cast were held last week.

The estimated $400 to $500 raised from the evening's events will go toward the $20,000 goal amount of "HEELing India," Seksaria said.

A total of $8,000 has been raised so far for the project through a mixer at Gotham, Pit sits and Sangam's formal at the Sheraton. A concert is planned for April to further raise funds, Seksaria said.

Response to the "HEELing India" project, including the crowd at Sangam Nite Live, has been overwhelming, Seksaria said.

"I was standing in the lobby and everyone walking out said they really enjoyed the show."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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