Ashoka puts on 29th Diwali show in Edison Theatre

| Senior Cadenza Editor

Over the weekend, Ashoka staged its 29th annual show for Diwali, the festival of lights in South Asian tradition. More than 200 Washington University students came together to perform and produce this year’s Diwali: “Unbreakable Kaira Shree.”

Each year, a skit—which informs the name and theme of the show—is performed during Diwali to highlight a different facet of the South Asian experience. This year’s skit followed Kaira Shree (think: Kimmy Schmidt), a fictional recent Wash. U. graduate, navigating professional and personal life after moving to New York City. The focus of this year’s skit was incredibly timely, with Kaira witnessing and experiencing sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Junior Reeya Shah performs in Ashoka’s 29th Diwali show, “Unbreakable Kaira Shree,” to celebrate the festival of lights.Ryan Yang | Student Life

Junior Reeya Shah performs in Ashoka’s 29th Diwali show, “Unbreakable Kaira Shree,” to celebrate the festival of lights.

Sophomore Richa Sinkre, who appeared in the skit in the title role of Kaira Shree, commanded the stage with a powerful performance, delivering on the central feminist messages of the production. She, along with the rest of the talented cast, infused comedic timing with equally well-timed dramatic moments to round out a well-executed performance.

The skit was divided into scenes, broken apart by dances from five groups, a fashion show, a performance from a cappella group Sur Taal Laya and a philanthropy presentation.

The first act of the show was closed out by Chaahat, Washington University’s co-ed Bollywood-fusion dance team, whose piece was based on box office hit “La La Land.” Beautiful costumes and the use of voice-overs throughout the performance helped shape the cinematic vibe of the dance.

Another movie-inspired piece shined on the Diwali stage with dandiya raas dance group WU Raas, whose dance drew on themes and clips from the beloved Pixar film “Up.” Their performance infused lights and vibrant colors, successfully drawing back to the central motifs of Diwali.

The final performance of the show was from WashU Bhangra, highlighting north Indian folk dance. Bhangra brought high energy and beautiful colors to the stage, wrapping up the Diwali show on a high note.

All proceeds from this year’s Diwali will benefit the South Asian Mental Health Initiative and Network, a non-profit group that encourages culturally-competent mental health care and fight the stigma surrounding mental illness in the South Asian community.

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