On March 4th, 2016 I attended an event called Bhangra Sutra hosted by UNC’s Bhangra team, Bhangra Elite. This event showcases various performance groups from UNC and the surrounding areas. The main purpose of this event is to bring different performance groups together to promote South Asian culture by requiring each of the acts to include Bhangra in their routine. Bhangra is a style of Indian dancing that is highly prevalent in the U.S. through collegiate and intercollegiate dance teams and competitions. Most universities in North America have at least one Bhangra team. These teams are very inclusive of all ethnicities, not just Indians. Every year UNC’s Bhangra team, Bhangra Elite, has Bhangra Sutra to not only include people in the team but show everyone that this dance style is inclusive. In addition to spreading awareness, Bhangra Sutra (the event) raises money for a different philanthropic organization each year. This year the proceeds went toward Youth Villages and Active Minds. Youth Villages is an organization that provides for children with special mental health needs and Active Minds is an organization works to increase awareness and reduce stigma of mental health on campus.
The decision to chose these two organizations as the beneficiaries was evoked by the passing of UNC alumna, Priya Balagopal, as a result of her suicide. Priya graduated from UNC May, 2014. While she was at UNC, she was very involved in the Indian community and mental health organizations, such as Youth Villages and Active Minds. Priya had depression and anxiety, but was incredibly strong. She worked to eliminate mental stigma especially within the South Asian community. This year’s Bhangra Sutra was in honor of her dream. This event shows how the South Asian community has grown to be more aware of mental illness and how we are working to improve even more. Though Priya had to suffer, her hard work and legacy will make a difference for many others. Priya was an integral part of the Carolina community and because of her work with the Campus Y, Youth Villages, Active Minds and more, her voice will still be heard by the people who knew her and by all of the people that her work will impact. Rest in Peace Priya.