July 17, 2018 | ° F

South Asian A cappella group hosts showcase at Rutgers

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

The Rutgers Asian A cappella Group hosted a “an Evening of Colors” Saturday night in Scott Hall. A cappella groups from different universities along the east coast performed, with some of the night’s proceeds going to a mental health advocacy group.

The award-winning Rutgers Asian A cappella Group (RAAG) organized and hosted a showcase Saturday night in Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus.

The event, "Shaam-e-Rang," translates to an “Evening of Colors.” It brought together Rutgers teams, including RU RAAG and Nuttin’ But V.O.C.A.L.S., as well as five groups from around the country. 

Family, friends and members of the Rutgers community convened in Scott Hall around 7 p.m., and Parth Shintre, a RAAG member and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, addressed the crowd. 

The event is one the group would love to continue, said Sanjana Mehta, RAAG president and business manager. She said she hopes to eventually host a competition on a larger stage.

“The show sold out in the end,” the Rutgers Business School junior said. “The turnout was amazing. We didn’t expect so many people.” 

Mehta said the whole RAAG team has been working tirelessly, at four to five hours every Friday since April to get "Shaam-e-Rang" off the ground.

Part of the event's proceeds went to SAMHAJ NAMI, a New Jersey advocacy group that seeks to promote mental health awareness in the South Asian community, Mehta said.

NAMI - the National Alliance on Mental Illness - is the umbrella group that SAMHAJ falls under. The group is particularly dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental illness and offering support - including bilingual support - to families involved and affected by mental illnesses.

The group provides workshops for social service agencies and schools to learn more about the growing South Asian community in New Jersey, with the goal of helping them to provide better care. 

Shreya Sethi, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she loved both Penn State’s and the University of Maryland's performances, although RU RAAG’s closing performance was her favorite of the night.

A handful of times during the night, the venue suffered some mild technical difficulties which caused some of the mics to cut out abruptly, usually only once or twice per performance, said Siddarth Siddabathula, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.

He called it incredible that all the groups continued to play through technical difficulties. No team chose to pause or restart mid-song. 

The technical difficulties did not stop Siddabathula from enjoying the performance. He is excited to come back, he said. 

“They must trust each other a lot to keep going after audio cuts like that," he said. 

Geoffrey Schiller is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in journalism and media studies and German. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Geoffrey Schiller

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