Akshar Sidana Shares Indic Heritage with CMS


Aastha Patel and Jaliya Rodriguez

There was an  assembly held on Monday, January 23, 2023, at Colonia  Middle School for Indic Heritage Month. 

What is Indic Heritage month? To start off, the word Indic comes from the Indic region.  It starts with the letters I – N – D- I because India used to be its own subcontinent but over time, other countries were added to the region. The name got changed to Indic after combining them all. 

Indic Heritage month is a month to bring awareness, recognition, and acknowledgment of the significant contributions made by Indic Americans across the United States. This celebration focuses on multicultural education around the various cultural identities of the Indian Subcontinent (which includes: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.),  according to the DEI Committee at Colonia Middle School.

 At the assembly, the students learned 3 different types of Indian dances. The 2 types of Indian dances were bhangra and garba. The Indian dances are being taught by Akshar Sidana who is a Woodbridge Township school board member of Indic Heritage.

When talking to Mr. Sandana, he was asked how he learned Indian dancing? He explained how his mom is a classical Indian dancer who dedicated her life to the art of dancing and performing. He was given the opportunity to learn dance his whole life but he started taking it seriously at the age of 14. 

He continued by explaining more detail about Indian dancing. There is classical dancing which has to be more precise, disciplined, and has to be executed properly. Then there is regional dancing which changes from region to region in India. 

For example, if you go to northern India, you will see completely different dances and outfits compared to southern India. Then there are folk dances that exist in the tradition and culture. They don’t need to be as precise since they are a more essential part of life.

Where do the dances taught at CMS  originate from? First, Garba originates from the area of Gujarat and is usually performed in a festival for harvest; Navratri – means 9 nights  

Bhangra comes from the northern state of Punjab. In 1947 half of Punjab went to India and half went to Pakistan so it is part of both Indian and Punjab culture.

What made Mr. Saldana come to Colonia Middle School? He had a discussion about teaching and informing the students as well as staff of the different dances and regions of India so he took this opportunity.

What does he think is interesting about these Indian dances? Mr. Saldana explained how they are built into everyday life. 

The regions and festivals of the regions all include dancing so it’s essential in day-to-day life.

Dancing is absolutely necessary and a very important part of everyday life in India and he was happy to share it with the Colonia Middle School community.