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Jashn-e-Jazbaa 2020: Navigating an Online Cultural Experience

By Riddhi Verma and Anjana Ashok, UG22

Despite the limitations of the online platform that the pandemic forces, different clubs and societies have tried their best to make their events memorable and interesting for this year’s Jashn-e-Jazbaa. Surprisingly, the online platform permitted space for a lot of creativity as well, and many clubs and societies came up with interesting events that would’ve been impossible otherwise.

With finals week fast approaching, accompanied by the deadlines of assignments, all of us have been hoping to engage in more cultural events and activities before the semester ends. Jashn-e-Jazbaa serves as the perfect outlet for many to interact and engage with Ashokan culture, especially for first-years who are yet to experience it in its full glory on campus.

Kalinga has also managed to make this Jashn-e-Jazbaa memorable with their online parody newscast on IGTV. The main editor of this newscast, Yukti Saumya, says, “I think this newscast would only have been possible online because it’s pre-recorded. We would not have had the guts to try this IRL”.

Pawsitive held a fun-filled event where they screened and voted for the funniest home videos of Ashokan’s pets. Sanaya Katrak, a core team supervisor says, “I can’t say the online platform made Jashn-e-Jazbaa more enjoyable, however, it’s nice to see how new creative ideas and events are coming up given the new limitations”. Nonetheless, given the online situation, she says turnout—something which is anyway hard to gauge on campus—became more “difficult to guess”. Katrak says the turnout “was decent”, but, “with so many events happening simultaneously people have to pick and choose”.

And there were many events! The core team of Kintsugi acknowledged the trouble they had with participation and decreasing turnouts: “With many new people coming in, less space and opportunity to get to know each other, fostering a sense of community has been a challenge”. To find a solution, they’ve upped their marketing throughout this semester, and are trying to make the best use of the advantages the online format provides to reach more people. For one, they say, “We’ve really increased our viewership for our blog and our Instagram page. We utilized the advantage of overcoming the difficulty of distance and transport to get a therapist, which may not have been possible on campus. We’ve tried to incorporate more in-team events to still foster a community within the club and to help with working together in general.” For the Jashn-e-Jazbaa, they organized a fun game of taboo and added that their stress-relieving activity of mood-board making was a great success.

The Head of Choir, a music group under Vistaar, Reya Daya, talked about their experience, as well. She says that though no amount of technology can make up for the human connection they felt while singing together live, they’ve been finding solutions to accommodate the current situation.

Reya and their team have been using BandLab to make music for the last two months. The hardest part of this type of music production was figuring out how to coordinate with many people while recording online, but they’re extremely proud of all the music they have been able to put out. With their resources, they were able to create music videos, which elevated their performance at Jashn-e-Jazbaa, despite the constraints of the novel platform. The song they showcased was their most recent project. Reya says that after weeks of effort, “the final product was better than any of us imagined we could have done had you asked us two months ago!”

Similar to the Choir team, Siyahi, the Art Society, was a little worried about how to navigate online experiences; after all, art is based on visuals and interactions. Nonetheless, Charvi Kaul, the Head of Siyahi, says, “Thanks to the enthusiasm and effort of the members, we were able to make the best of the situation.” For Jashn-e Jazbaa, they held an event called “Paint Ashoka By Numbers”, where they painted number outlines according to a color scheme, recreating different spaces on campus. They also hosted events for festivals, such as making paper-cup diyas for Diwali and masks for Halloween. In general, their sessions persisted as calming activities, even online. Their activities were planned in a laid-back atmosphere. There are no compulsions— their events are a time where you can take a break from your busy schedule.

The new clubs this year have also tailored some entertaining and engaging events for this year’s Jashn-e-Jazbaa. Hallyu, the Korean Culture club, held a trivia night which allowed people to showcase their knowledge about the Korean culture, and meet people with similar interests and make some interesting friends! Vanishree, the Head of Hallyu, says that the trivia was a compelling bonding experience for fellow enthusiasts. They also wanted to do something relaxed and wholesome. They opened a short sign-up for penpals, hoping to combat the heavy screen time, and create an environment that is both understanding and helpful.

This year’s Jashn-e-Jazbaa is a testament to the fact that Ashokan culture always finds a way to survive and transform amidst uncertain times. Many people were able to share their experiences through comedy, poetry, music and more. The events truly helped foster meaningful connections during a time when we are all yearning for a more human touch.

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