HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The rich heritage of the Indian culture was brought to life at the Pennsylvania State Capitol during Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month thanks to the Nandanik Dance Troupe from Pittsburgh.
High school and college students and adults performed the dances dressed in costumes that represent all parts of India.
“We are presenting a collage of a little bit of classical Indian dance, a little bit of folk Indian dance, and a little bit of contemporary Indian dance,” artistic director Nandini Mandal said.
“The costume that they’re wearing is from the southern part of India and then I’m presenting a dance from the eastern part of India which is in the Bengali language so the language is spoken in Bangladesh,” Mandal said.
“The dance outfit consists of five or six different pieces. The top portion, then the pants, and then there is a fan that opens up when we dance. Then, the bells which play a very important part in any stomping, any movement, are very crucial to our dance form,” Hiral Shah said.
State Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin, Cumberland) invited the dance troupe to the capitol to celebrate the formation of the state legislative Asian Pacific American Caucus. As the first Asian American woman elected to the House, Kim wants to make sure the voices of the Asian-Pacific American communities are heard.
“I just wanted to give someone just a little taste of what the Indian culture which is so diverse on its own to come here and just illuminate the capitol. We look a little different, but we’re all the same and you guys are valued and that’s what I wanted for them to come here and feel that today,” State Rep. Kim said.
“I’ve always danced for fun and I love performing so to get to perform here is so great and to represent my culture and my roots here is really fantastic,” Sanjana Reddy said.
“To get appreciation, and love from people in the Capitol and to notice that it really means something to them for including us and making us a part of the event is a really big deal for us and it’s truly heartwarming and special for us,” Shah said.
The state’s legislative Asian-Pacific American Caucus is a four-member team that will work on issues facing the Asian-Pacific American Community.