The long awaited South Asian Student Association annual culture show, MELA, took place on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2023. The showcase — complete with dynamic dances, poetry, and musical performances — filled the audience’s hearts with self, communal, familial, and cultural love, which is right on par with this year’s theme “Bhalobasha: Unified Love.” The word Bhalobasha is a Bengali word that in essence means expressing love through language and actions. With deep roots in Bengali culture, Bhalobasha has informed people’s fundamental views of how to live, empathize, and love themselves and others. Through their showcase, SASA inspired the audience to embrace the meaning of Bhalobasha. 

SASA kicked off their showcase with the unveiling of their beautiful backdrop, designed by design coordinators Uma Kanzaria ’25, Ananya Dalal ’26, and Kyra Bhagat ’26 and painted by various student volunteers. The backdrop depicted a peaceful scene :a lush green field circled by graceful doves. Lining the sides of the backdrop are the flags of various South Asian countries. Across the top of the backdrop was the word “love” written in 19 different languages. The backdrop alone was a touching testament to the theme of the show for it showed love and peace unifying various cultures. 

After the audience took in the lovely backdrop, the actual showcase began. The audience watched in awe as various Brandeis students performed classical and modern Bollywood dances, played music, and even walked the runway of Levin, showcasing outfits from all over South Asia.

One of the most touching performances of the night was by Pakistani poet and Brandeis alum, Usman Hameedi ’12. Hameedi’s poem artfully captured the experience of being a child with immigrant parents in the U.S. His piece related to many audience members with common anecdotes like the mispronunciation of ethnic names in school. Ultimately, his powerful piece helped the audience find a love for their culture, and their identity as a child of immigrant parents. 

Through all their acts and speeches, SASA perfectly captured the meaning of Bhalobasha. Whether or not one was from South Asia, all audience members were inspired to carry the love, joy, and compassion demonstrated in the showcase home with them.