Virtual Iftar – come dine with us!

As the month of Ramadan begins, Student Inclusion invited Muslim and non-Muslim members of the University to join them for a virtual Iftar celebration!


During this event, speakers talked about their experience of fasting during Ramadan whilst sharing a virtual dining experience! Student representatives from the Bristol Islamic Society, Muslim Medic and Black Muslim Society joined staff from Student Inclusion to talk about their personal experiences and what the month of Ramadan means to them.

Event speakers included:

  • Robiu Salisu, Student Inclusion Officer (BAME) – host
  • Aamir Mohamed, President of Bristol Islamic Society – giving a recitation and reminder of what Ramadan is
  • Nimra Naeem, President of Bristol Medic Society – sharing the experience of Muslim Medic Students during Ramadan
  • Fatima Abdulsalam, President of Black Muslim Society – talking about what Ramadan means to you

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islam. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark when Allah (or God) gave the first chapters of the Quran (Holy Book) to the Prophet Muhammad, during which period they fast – meaning that there is no eating or drinking during the hours of daylight.

Revisit the event!

In case you missed it – you can watch the recording of the event here:

Diwali celebration

The Hindu Society, with the Global Lounge, bring you a warm and welcoming virtual celebration of Diwali

Wednesday 11 November

Diwali, commonly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, lasts between 4 to 5 days and, like Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, follows the ‘lunar calendar’ meaning that the date changes each year.

Namaste

Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

This year, the Bristol Hindu Society celebrated Diwali with a virtual event which was open to all, introducing the festival to those who may not know much about it, whilst allowing those who would normally celebrate with family and loved ones the opportunity to come together and celebrate online. Akash, president of the Bristol Hindu Society, introduced the event, kicking things off with a beautiful Aarti – a type of prayer which the society typically start their events off with.

Akash went onto explain that while there may be many possible origins of Diwali, the core essence remains the same: ‘the victory of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance,’ going on to say that it is also not a festival ‘limited only to Hinduism and Hindus’ but that ‘Diwali, in itself, is a celebration of the idea of India. Everyone celebrates for different reasons.’

Some typical features of celebrating Diwali include:

  • lighting diyas – an oil lamp usually made from clay
  • fireworks – to guide the spirits of ancestors
  • rangolis – patterns made of coloured sand or crushed flowers to beautify the house and a sign to welcome visitors

‘Who needs measuring spoons when you have your hands!’

After the introduction to Diwali students talked about how it’s felt not being able to celebrate with loved ones at home this year, and shared with each other how they were celebrating Diwali during lockdown, which included dinner with housemates, Bollywood music and movies, and eating / making homemade sweets!

Students also shared with each other how they would usually celebrate with family – with a large focus on food, including an insight into Indian cooking and a mother’s tip when it comes to recipes: “Who needs measuring spoons when you have hands!”

The community-feeling really shone through during these conversations and even for those who don’t celebrate Diwali, it was a wonderful insight into this annual celebration.

‘Wear Indian clothes just to get into the feel of it. At Christmas people wear Christmas jumpers, so in the same way, wear some Indian clothing to get in the mood.’

Students ended the event by giving tips on how you can celebrate Diwali at home, including:

  • watching popular Indian movies (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum is recommended!)
  • buying or making homemade sweets
  • lighting sparklers
  • celebrating virtually with family and loved-ones
  • having a go at cooking Indian food that you would normally have with family – or – treating yourself and ordering online
  • wearing some traditional Indian clothing to get you into the mood and playing some music
  • using candles or fairy lights to decorate your spaces at home

Check out the full event here, and be inspired to make Diwali just as special this year – where ever you are!

NHSF Bristol Hindu Society:

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Day of the Dead

The Mexican Culture Society and Global Lounge celebrate Day of the Dead
Monday 2 November

What is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday where family and friends gather to remember those close to them who have died.

The Mexican Culture Society explored and celebrated this annual festivity with The Global Lounge, with guest speakers delivering live and interactive presentations from both the UK and Mexico, explaining what happens during this annual festivity!

Although celebrations couldn’t take place in-person, the Mexican Culture Society planned a full programme of events to mark this important holiday, which honours and celebrates the deceased.

Speakers introduced the festivity and its importance in Mexican culture, including how it’s celebrated in the capital of Mexico, Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco) as well as El Xantolo in the Huasteca region. Speakers shared their experience of living in these parts of Mexico and what you can expect to experience during the Day of the Dead celebrations – which lasts several days – including music, shrines, and the cemetery! Also explained was one of most recognisable symbols of The Day of the Dead celebrations – a tall female skeleton wearing a hat with feathers – La Catrina, who was borne from illustrator José Guadalupe Posada.

Let’s talk about food!

Attendees got to find out about popular food, Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) and the significance of its shape and structure – find out how to make ‘Bread of the Dead’ by heading to the Mexican Culture Society’s video on YouTube!

They also talked about a traditional mesoamerican dish, made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf – tamales! Not only available as a savoury and spicy food – but also sweet – this is a popular Mexican food with big cultural importance. Tamales, or ‘tamal’ in Spanish, are even mentioned in proverbs and phrases – ‘whenever something goes wrong, eat tamal. Whenever something goes fine, eat it as well’.

Like the sound of tamales? Have a go at making your own!

The event ended with an explanation of Calaveritas Literarias – short verses written in the form of epitaphs to mock celebrities, politicians, friends and family members! These rhymes or phrases – which were once banned – are popular in Mexico around October and November during Day of the Dead celebrations.

See the full event below, and discover more about this fascinating festivity.

The programme of events:

00:00 – 02:00 – Welcome from the Global Lounge
02:01 – 08:44 – Introduction to the festivity
08:45 – 22:35 – Celebrations in Mexico City (San Lorenzo Tenzonco)
24:15 – 41:07 – El Xantolo
42:03 – 50:22 – La Catrina
52:10 – 1:02:21 – Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)
1:02:22 – 1:12:46 – Tamales
1:15:45 –1:21:33 – Calaveritas Literarias
1:25:02 – Event end

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A glimpse into the world of Indian dance

University of Bristol staff and students come together for a spectacular performance by postgraduate students, Aditya Sharma and Deepa Lakshimi.

The first big Global Lounge cultural event of 2020 didn’t disappoint, as members of the University community enjoyed a mesmorising performance by MSc Management (Marketing) student Aditya and MA Law student Deepa. Held in the Bristol SU‘s Anson Rooms, attendees enjoyed a stunning classical dance performance and delicious meal, organised by the Global Lounge, in collaboration with the postgraduate students, and professional dancers.

Almost 200 people attended the Indian dance event on Thursday 6 February, with a free delicious, authentic Indian meal and refreshments provided after the show, which many stayed on to enjoy whilst socialising and talking to the performers.

Aditya and Deepa showcased two very distinct and popular forms of Indian dance: Kathak [ka·tack] and Bharatanatyam [baa·ruh·tuh·na·tym], the first being a form of North Indian classical dancing which tells a story, and the latter a form of Indian classical ballet. Each of their performances was accompanied by a spoken introduction, explaining each dance and its meaning, as well as its cultural significance. Whilst staying true to the dance form, both performers presented a modern, fresh and personal take on the traditional roots of Indian choreography.

‘We did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous.’

Having attended previous Global Lounge events and seen a possibility to showcase his own culture and passion for dance, Aditya approached the team with the idea to hold an Indian dance event and, along with Deepa, curated a performance especially for the Global Lounge: ‘I heard about the Global Lounge when I first arrived in Bristol during the Welcome Week, and also attended a couple of their events which led to me getting in touch with them about holding my own. I’ve constantly been following their updates and events – everything they do is always so exciting.’

Aditya is a senior Kathak dancer with eight years’ experience, and the founder and artistic director of Yatra Dance productions (a classical dance choreography unit in Bangalore). Deepa Lakshmi is a senior Bharatanatyam artist from Chennai. She has been training in the discipline since the age of four and has received many accolades during her dance career.

 

Despite Deepa and Aditya’s experience and achievements, both were still nervous about the night and how their performance would be received: ‘we did not expect this kind of reaction. We were very nervous, wondering how the audience would bounce off us, and would they be able to relate to the dances?’

‘It just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it.’

The elaborate performances and beautiful outfits made it an immersive and captivating experience, with both dancers commanding the stage and transporting the audience to another time and place, into the lives of the protagonists of their stories. Both dancers carefully curated their technique and style to showcase the art form in a modern and exciting way, while maintaining the roots and traditions of the choreography, music and performances – which clearly resonated with the audience. Speaking in the dressing room after the event, Deepa said: ‘it just shows that art, music, dance; you don’t need a lot of commonalities to understand it. If you have the music, your feet are going to start tapping and you’re going to start dancing – you don’t need to know the background to enjoy it.’

‘The Global Lounge helps you get that one step further.’

In the giddiness of their post-performance adrenaline rush, both students were beaming after the show and – while still a little out of breath – spoke of their excitement at being able to perform in front of their peers, and to others in the University community. Both spoke of their passion and desire to give something back to the University, speaking positively of their time at Bristol and the support they’ve received: ‘the University really supports anything to do with cultural experience and I think the Global Lounge helps you get that one step further. The team are really, really helpful and go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need. They’ve made our entire journey really comfortable, and I think the University as a whole does a fantastic job.’

See some of Aditya and Deepa’s performance below, and check out all of the Global Lounge’s upcoming events.