Akshay Iyer ’16, Sidhartha Jandhyala ’16, and Charan Mohan ’15 are brothers of the South Asian interest fraternity Delta Sigma Iota, which recently hosted six a cappella vocal ensembles from universities across the country to compete for the first annual Sangeet Saagar title. Teams from Case Western, MIT, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and the University of Virginia participated. Additionally, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Samaa and NC State’s own Grains of Time performed as exhibition acts.
Electrical engineering major Iyer, former president of Delta Sigma Iota and lead organizer of the Sangeet Saagar competition, was the driving force behind taking the event from vision to reality.
“I was very keen on bringing together a lot of different groups of people to make this event possible – university affiliates, local South Asians,” said Iyer. “Unity is an important pillar of Delta Sigma Iota and we kept this in mind throughout the organization process.”
Held on Saturday, January 31 for a crowd of 500 in NC State’s Talley Student Union, Sangeet Saagar – which means ‘ocean of music’ in Hindi – raised more than $2,000 for charity. To create an event of this scope from scratch, Iyer emphasized the importance of clearly defining responsibilities and action items.
“Organizing something for the first time involves a very different mindset compared to reorganizing a recurring or previous event,” he said. “You have to be prepared to make lots of small mistakes and corresponding adjustments and refinements. There are also seemingly endless directions to go in and hundreds of decisions to make. You have to stick to your vision and make sure that the basic essentials don’t go unfulfilled when you are caught up in the details. There’s a lot of overhead work, coming up with a name, a logo, sponsorship packets, raising awareness, and attracting quality teams. It’s a rewarding challenge.”
Mohan, who has held numerous leadership roles within Delta Sigma Iota and is former president of NC State’s Multicultural Greek Council, spearheaded public relations efforts for Sangeet Saagar.
“I think the most rewarding moment was being at the ticket counter when we sold out,” said Mohan, who is triple majoring in biochemistry, human biology, and political science. “Another big takeaway was seeing the success that can be achieved through collective effort and action. One of the major highlights of the Park program is the development of servant-leaders. In my time as a leader on campus and working with Delta Sigma Iota, I have been able to apply the skills I have learned through my experiences in the Park program.”
Iyer echoed this.
“In our Leadership Academy modules, we cover strategies like ‘Effort/Performance – Performance/Reward’ in maximizing productivity,” Iyer said. “These strategies come in handy when you have to motivate 40 event organizers and volunteers, especially when they are all busy students.”
The inspiration to develop this event stemmed from the Delta Sigma Iota brothers’ passion for education.
“Education is one of our key pillars, so we wanted to give back to education-related philanthropies,” said Jandhyala, biomedical engineering major and current president of the fraternity. “We wanted to give back to our cultural ties as well.”
Proceeds from Sangeet Saagar ticket sales benefited two nonprofits: Drive Education NC, an organization Jandhyala helped to create which supports technological initiatives in local public schools, and Ekal Vidyalaya, a service organization dedicated to education and village development in rural India. The latter is the chosen philanthropy of UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Delta Sigma Iota, who partnered with NC State’s chapter to bring Sangeet Saagar to fruition.
“The most positive takeaway,” said Jandhyala, who also designed the logo and marketing materials for Sangeet Saagar, “is being able to say that we were the ones who started the first national South Asian a cappella competition in the Southeastern United States. Furthermore, the competing teams said that our competition was one of the best they ever participated in. That’s a huge plus for us.”
Iyer said, “We sold out this year, and we’ll sell out next year as well.”
Story by Shehab Imam