By Lucas Ryan
While most people were out celebrating Halloween Saturday night, at Minnesota State University, Mankato a sold out Middle Eastern night was taking place. A variety of people of different ages and ethnicities filled the Centennial Student Union at MNSU and enjoyed a night of celebration with dances and Arabian food.
The International Student Organization, the Elizabeth & Wynn Kearney International Center and the Department of Student Activities sponsored Middle Eastern Night.
The event started in the basement of the CSU with a variety of activities, including Arabic calligraphy and try henna tattooing.
Students could have their name written in calligraphy, while henna is a dye that women typically wear on their hands and feet during weddings or other celebrations. The dye is drawn onto women in intricate Middle Eastern designs.
Authentic Arabian food was served downstairs and included a selection of different types.
The food ranged from Hummus to roasted Tandoori chicken and was truly authentic.
MNSU student Ayato Inagaki was one of many students enjoying Middle Eastern night. He explained that the food being served is different from what most people are used to eating in the United States and that Middle Eastern food has a distinct taste.
“It (the food) has a strong taste,” Inagaki said. “I enjoyed it very much.”
At 7:30 p.m. the event moved to the ballroom of the CSU for the entertainment portion of the night. The entertainment kicked-off with a flag parade featuring flags from many Middle Eastern countries, including Sauri Arabia and Iran.
The flag parade was followed by welcome speeches from the International Center Director Thomas Gjersvig, Middle Eastern Students Association Advisor Wayne Allen and Middle Eastern Students Association President Ahmed Kabalawi. The speakers thanked the crowd for coming and also thanked the students that made this event possible. Allen also expressed his pride in the diversity of the crowd that was in attendance.
After the speakers were finished the entertainment portion of the night continued with several traditional dances.
Among the dances was a Dabka group dance,performed by students from Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis.
During the dance the crowd clapped to the beat and cheered as the students moved to the music. The Dabka dance is a traditional dance performed at weddings and other joyous celebrations in parts of the Middle East.
Belly dancing and a Saudi dance were also among the dances preformed.
The entertainment for Middle Eastern night also included an Arabian wedding and a fashion show.
The night ended with a prize drawing for a one-hundred dollar gift certificates, in which students had to answer questions in an online survey about the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
International Student Association president, Tawsif Mahmud, helped organize the event.
Mahmud thought the evening was a success but gave the credit to all the students that helped set up the event.
“This is one of the best nights ever,” said Mahmud. “All the students worked really hard.”
The Middle East region encompasses western Asia and northern Africa and includes many countries and customs.
Throughout Middle Eastern Night people in attendance saw and learned about many of these traditions. While there are many different customs in this part of the world a similar culture is present throughout this area.
“The main thing that we wanted to do is show a mixture of nations into one culture,” Mahmud said. “What is Middle East; this is what we are trying to show.”
Middle Eastern night was a way to celebrate and learn about the sometimes misunderstood culture in the Middle East. By experiencing a few of the traditions that are common in the Middle East, people got a firsthand look at some of the beautiful customs in this part of the world.