On March 25, 2022, the IU Navruz Student Association (NSA) hosted their annual Navruz Festival. Navruz is a traditional holiday celebrating the Spring Equinox and it is observed in many different communities across Central Eurasia, from the Balkans and the Caucasus to Central and Inner Asia. After a year of online events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSA was excited to hold the festival in-person again. The festival featured a live concert from the Bloomington Silk Road Ensemble and catering from Samira restaurant. Dr. Rovshan Alimov, Minister Counselor of Uzbekistan to the UN, graciously joined the IU community for this celebration.
The Bloomington Silk Road Ensemble is led by Shahyar Daneshgar (vocals and percussion), Senior Lecturer in the Central Eurasian Studies department, who was joined by Jack Szczuka (piano and accordion), an undergraduate in the Jacobs School of Music and the Central Eurasian Studies department, Jermaine Butler (bass, oud, percussion), a graduate student in the department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department, Alvise Filippo Stefani (violin), a graduate student in the department of French and Italian Studies, and Emma Walsh (percussion), an undergraduate majoring in Percussion Performance at the Jacobs School of Music, on percussion. The group performed original compositions and new arrangements of traditional music from across Eurasia for an overflowing auditorium, and their energetic and heartfelt performances inspired members of the audience to dance in front of the stage.
Following the performance, the audience streamed out of the auditorium to line up for dinner catered by Samira Restaurant. As they sat down to enjoy their meal, Dr. Rovshan Alimov addressed the crowd and expressed his pleasant surprise in seeing such a big Navruz celebration so far from Uzbekistan. Prior to the concert, Dr. Alimov had presented a lecture which discussed the role of Uzbekistan in the ongoing turmoil and national security crisis in Afghanistan. As guests finished dining, they enjoyed more impromptu musical performances and dancing from members of the Bloomington Silk Road Ensemble and other guests.
Matt Hulstine, the president of the Navruz Student Association, says: “It was great to be back in person this year. We really enjoy putting on a good event for the IU and Bloomington community, and we were blown away by the attendance after being online last year. We can’t wait to have another amazing festival in spring 2023!”
Funding for the Navruz Festival was provided by the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the Center for the Study of the Middle East, the IU Funding Board, the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Islamic Studies Program, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute, and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies Living-Learning Center.