The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Dancers "Rise Up!" Over the Weekend

But Sunday's event featured more than the popular Bhangra dance, a traditional harvest dance that has since been modified to incorporate reggae and hip hop.

Planners chose to intersperse traditional South Asian music with poetry and personal experiences shared by South Asian students from North Carolina to New York, mostly focused on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Pavithra Vasudevan, a junior at Duke University, said South Asians Rise Up! formed a permanent organization in mid-January after a few members applied for a grant and began planning Sunday's event.

She said the group has about 10 members from Duke and UNC but hopes to gain more members after Sunday's event.

Kriti Sharma, a sophomore at UNC, said the group planned the People's Bhangra Party to raise student awareness of issues faced by the South Asian community, especially after the events of Sept. 11.

Sharma said the party's unique format combined the cultural side of South Asia with often-overlooked political issues.

"We need to identify with each other not only as a shared ancestry but to unite in our contemporary struggles," Sharma said.

Speakers included a UNC student who was asked to leave a bar shortly after September's terrorist attacks. He said a police officer approached him because a bar patron had called police, claiming he saw someone who might be linked to the Taliban.

Another speaker, also a student at UNC, presented her passport and other paperwork that officials have told her "make her American."

She said that after Sept. 11, she was told to carry these around at all times in case she was stopped for a background check.

UNC sophomore Sunil Nagaraj, the political co-chairman of Sangam, a campus organization devoted to South Asian awareness, said he was surprised to hear about acts of racial profiling in Chapel Hill.

He said he attended Sunday's event because he felt both groups embrace similar ideals.

"We want to educate South Asians and other people on campus in minority issues that should not be ignored," he said.

Vasudevan said she has not only learned more about her heritage from the group, she has benefited from the friendships of other South Asians in Chapel Hill and Durham.

"It's been powerful to meet with people at a time that's been pretty alienating for a lot of people."

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