This H.A.S to Happen 2020
Written by Rabeeyah Cheema
Racial Equality Officer 2019-20
In March, I had the chance to collaborate with the Hindu and Sikh Society for an SU Campaign. The society approached me in December with the idea for a campaign that represents Hindu and Sikh students on a SU level and after two months of planning and organising – ‘This H.A.S. to Happen’ was created. It was an amazing week that allowed brown students across campus to come together and celebrate their culture and discuss their experiences.
Langar on Campus
The week started off with a Langar on Campus event. Langar is the Sikh tradition of serving a free, vegetarian meal to all visitors who come to the Gurdwara, regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity or economic status. It’s traditionally eaten whilst sitting on the floor to show that everyone is equal and is an amazing tradition that brings everyone together.
We were lucky enough to work with the Gurdwara to bring Langar straight to the Uni. After going to the Temple to help cook the food in the morning, we set up our tables in front of the SU just as lunch time was nearing. Within just over an hour, the food had all disappeared and we had served over 300 people a free Indian meal. We also managed to raise over £80 to give back to the Gurdwara for all their work. It was an amazing event and having committee members explain the beauty of Langar hopefully helped educate people on the tradition.
A couple of days later, it was time to dance! Myself and Sohum Pandya (President of HASsoc) collaborated with North East Bhangra at Northumbria University to bring a Dance Workshop straight to Newcastle. Lots of people came and seemed to have a brilliant time learning the classic, traditional Indian dances.
Here to Discuss
What seemed to be the most successful event, however, came the next day at the Discussion Event. On a more serious note, Sohum and I believed we should be discussing topics that impacted our community. Topics such as homophobia and sexism within our community, our experiences as brown students in Newcastle, opinions on arranged marriages and marrying outside of your religion, and much more were discussed at the event. The turnout was better than we could dream off, with a diverse group of students coming together to talk, ask questions and even debate the topics. The feedback gathered highlighted how necessary and informative an event like this was, and I hope this can be somewhat of a regular event that we can put on for not only brown students but all – the feedback showed how much people learned from listening to brow students talk. This was amazing to read as it really showed how the campaign reached it’s aims of educating people on brown experiences.
To end the successful week, the society took a group of students down to the Gurdwara. The students loved their experiences and the Gurdwara, kindly, fed them even more food which was so appreciated.
Overall this campaign was better than I could ever hope. All the hard work payed off and speaking to the brown students who came to the events made it even better. Representation on a Student’s Union Wide level cannot be understated and I am so proud to have been able to contribute to it. Of course it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing help and support from the Hindu and Sikh Society, in particular their president, Sohum Pandya so thank you to them as well. And a big thank you to everyone who came to the events, shared the posts or even read our webpage. It was all for you guys so I hope everyone enjoyed!
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