Masti Mela honors Pakistani culture


Masti Mela celebrated South Asian culture with food and free henna design. Photo by Agata Poniatowski.

Baruch students showcased Pakistani and South Asian culture during a series of tabling events that celebrated Masti Mela on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Masti Mela, which translates to “Fun Festival” in Urdu and Hindi, was hosted by the Pakistani Student Association during club hours.

On the second floor atrium of the Newman Vertical Campus, six tables were set up in order to accommodate the crowd.

Two of the tables were designated as a preparation space, in which a member of the PSA assembled the refreshments. The next two tables over held the refreshments, while another member presided over the table and offered them to passing students. The final two tables were henna stations that featured four henna artists.

The line for henna noticeably lengthened after students began to trickle out of their morning classes. Students who did not want to wait to get a henna tattoo were attracted to the event due to either the music or the food.

According to some members of PSA, a music playlist used during the event had been updated to reflect the modern Pakistani culture. In the middle of the tables, Hurmat Hashmi, the president of PSA, showcased her culture through dancing. Members of PSA offered gol gappe and mango lassi to interested students.

Regarding the food, Hashmi said, “We are giving out free snacks, including gol gappe, which is very popular in places like Pakistan and India. You know in America, we have chips or crackers or popcorn. Over there, their version is gol gappe. It’s like a round cracker. Inside it you put chickpeas and a sauce, and it’s pretty tangy and pretty spicy.”

Members of PSA created the event to introduce their culture to Baruch students. The intention was also to promote South Asian culture and pride.

“[The crowd] really enjoys it,” Hashmi said. “My people right now—they have to work really fast to give out the snacks and drinks and henna, but everyone looks excited. Everyone wants to try new foods, new drinks.”

The event enticed plenty of people who felt unfamiliar with South Asian culture and cuisine. Students interacted with PSA members to ask about the gol gappe and mango lassi. Some students also asked about the history and significance of henna art.

Milton Henriquez, a junior, indicated that he learned about Pakistani culture during the event, citing it as the first time he tried both mango lassi and henna.

“I learned what mango lassi is, which is basically mango with yogurt mixed together. It didn’t sound too appetizing at first, but it’s actually really delicious,” he said.

When asked why he felt drawn to the event, he cited his background as the prime influence.

“I like exploring other culture because I’m a New Yorker—a native New Yorker—and I think the henna looks cool. I’m assuming that the music is music that you can listen to in Pakistan, which is awesome. It sounds pretty good.”

The single drawback about the event that Henriquez mentioned was the lack of student interaction. Henriquez indicated that he would want the event to have more participation from other students so that they could learn about and partake in the culture more easily.

PSA’s biggest event will take place on Nov. 11. According to Baruch's event calendar, “Hungama” translates to “uproar and excitement.”

The aim of the event, is for students to take a break from midterms and de-stress with South Asian cuisine and music.