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South Asian Community

The South Asian community at the George Washington University (GW) is a diverse group of students, faculty and staff that represent a variety of backgrounds and experiences under the unified goal of cultural awareness. Currently, the Asian student enrollment is 10% at the undergraduate level and 9% at the graduate level. The South Asian community is a subset of the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community at GW. APIA reflects the cultures of 49 different countries. The South and South Eastern Asian countries share a strong centralized cultural history and generally celebrate APIA Heritage Month in tandem with other Asian countries. The South Asian programs are organized by 17 student organizations that promote the traditions of South and Central Asian cultures. GW celebrates South Asian Heritage throughout the month of March. The programming showcases the rich history, culture and accomplishments of the South Asian community. The Multicultural Student Services Center provides logistical support for South Asian organizations to collaborate and promote cultural awareness.

South Asian Heritage Celebration

In 1992, May was officially designated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) by the United States federal government. It encompasses the Asian Continent and the Pacific Islands. President George H.W. Bush signed the proclamation after several decades of advocacy, passion and persistence by figures such as Congressmen Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California and Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga. 

In 2004, The George Washington University (GWU) presented its first annual Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration (APIHC). The school designated April as the official GW APIHC, allowing members of the community to participate before the end of the academic school year. Furthermore, they recognized a need to celebrate unique identities and culture individually, giventhe diverse ethnic groups, cultures, traditions and histories within the Asian Pacific Islander and South Asian cultures. Ultimately resulting in GW presenting its first annual South Asian Heritage Celebration (SAHC) in 2013. 

SAHC celebrates and promotes the values and traditions of Central and South Asian cultures. In doing so, the GW community is able to gain an in depth view into the South Asian experience through customs, arts, social institutions and its being at large. Be sure to keep a lookout for the various programs surrounding the SAHC. These include, student cultural shows, performances, distinguished guest lectures, seminars and educational events. The 2019 SAHC’s theme is, “Unapologetically Brown #NoFilter”, so don’t forget to join in, support and celebrate! 

The Multicultural Student Services Center (MSSC) provides logistical, content and ideological support for South and Central Asian organizations to collaborate and promote cultural awareness throughout SAHC. Students, faculty and staff with varying leadership experience and skill sets are encouraged to participate in SAHC. All activities related to SAHC are facilitated by MSSC senior staff and graduate student coordinators. The minimum requirement for involvement is to have a commitment to and passion for South and Central Asian culture. For more information, call 202-994-MSSC (6772).

South Asian Heritage Celebration 2019

The George Washington University

Calendar of Events



Friday, March 1st

Place: ‘Marvin Grand Ballroom, 8pm

Event: "Mujh se (mock) Shaadi karo gi?’- Will you mock marry me?"

Description: This event will serve as a Mock Shaadi which will highlight all aspects of Pakistani culture including traditional clothing, music, dances, Jewelry and food. Pakistani weddings are known worldwide for their colorful and bright demonstration of Pakistani culture, and this event would be a great way to showcase to the students at GW some of the oldest cultural traditions such as henna and dance battles at weddings.


Saturday, March 2nd

Place: Square 80, 12-4pm

Event: Back on Our Bakwaas

Description: Bakhwaas, n. [buh-qua-ss]: the act of being blatantly yourself regardless of what others say. Speak your truth and come show the community what you’re unapologetic about. #SariNotSorry


Monday, March 4th

Place: Marvin Continental Ballroom, 7-9pm

Event: The Fashion of South Asian Hyphenation

Description: Come watch the GW South Asian community strut their stuff in a fashion show inspired by the intersectionality of our communities! With pieces ranging from Pakistani couture to Mumbai street style, we'll have it all! Snacks will also be served.


Tuesday, March 5th

Place: District House Room B117, 7:30pm

Event: South Asian Women: Leaders in the APIA Community

Description: Celebrate South Asian Heritage Month with GW AASA as we highlight the achievements and progress of South Asian women within the APIA community. We will have a speaker that discusses the legacies of South Asian history and efforts to advocate for the community and individuals moving forward, and the role that identity as an individual of South Asian heritage plays.


Thursday, March 7th

Place: Marvin Center, Room 309, 7:30pm

Event: Religion in South Asia: An Overview and How it Affects the Diaspora

Description: Learn about several religions of varying presence that exist in South Asia such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and others by hearing from professionals and audience discussion. We hope you develop more insight into religious diversity in South Asia, and how it plays a role in the lives of students.


Monday, March 18th

Place MSSC 209, 7:30-9:30pm

Event: Boys Will Be Boys: Toxic Masculinity in the South Asian Community

Description: Toxic masculinity manifests itself among men in our community as refusal to seek treatment for illness, suppression of emotion, and unwarranted aggression towards others. Join us for a discussion about the impact of toxic masculinity in our community, its root causes, and how we can work to reconfigure notions of manhood.


Tuesday, March 19th

Place: Marvin 309, 7-9pm

Event: The Sexuality of Bollywood

Description: Why does the hero never kiss the heroine? Why does sex only sell when it's from male actors? Come explore these questions and more with mini-screenings and an informative panel on sexuality-related topics within the Bollywood sphere!


Friday, March 22nd

Place: Marvin Grand Ballroom, 8:30pm

Event: From Her

Description: The GW South Asian community is proud to present the first annual “From Her” Banquet! Join us to celebrate the accomplishments of South Asian women on campus and around the world. Join us for performances, FREE food, and a genuine night of appreciation for their contributions! We hope to see you there!



Tuesday, March 26th

Place: Marvin Amphitheater, 6:30pm

Event: Aaj kal ki Ladkiyaan: Girls these Days

Description: This panel will highlight taboo topics in South Asian communities such as the role of women insociety, discussing the issues of domestic violence, mental health and sexual assault and how they are prominent issues, yet often ignored. We will invite professional speakers and students to discuss taboo topics and try to normalize the idea.


Saturday, March 29th

Place: TBA

Event: Charity Formal

Description: Come dressed up in your favorite South Asian formal outfit and enjoy a full catered dinner, dancing, a cash bar, and more! Tickets will be on sale through the GW South Asian Society, and all proceeds will benefit a charity for women's education.


Saturday, March 30th

Place: Kogan Plaza, 12-3pm

Event: Punjab Day Mela

Description: The GW Sikh Student Association is proud to announce our most awaited event of the semester - the Punjab Day Mela! Join us to experience Punjab, the birthplace of Sikhism, right on campus! We will be featuring bhangra performances, FREE food, turban tying, and a chance to learn more about Punjabi culture! We can't wait to see you all there!


Sunday, March 31st

Place: Lisner Auditorium, 6pm

Event: A Conversation with Tan France: Presented by Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration and South Asian Heritage Celebration 

Event Description: Tan France will join the GW community for a moderated conversation about intersections of identity. This event is hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration and South Asian Heritage Celebration committees, and by the GW Multicultural Student Services Center."


Sponsored by: South Asian Society, Indian Students’ Association, Hindu Student Association,Sikh Students’ Association, Asian American Student Association, Pakistani Students'; Association, Iota Nu Delta Fraternity, Inc., Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration, and GW Student Association.


Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement


2127 G St., NW, Washington, DC 20052

202-994-6772 [email protected]