On the evening of Oct. 21, Tech’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) hosted the Moon Festival on Tech Green. Moon Festival is a celebration of mid-autumn and harvest season popular across East and Southeast Asia and is traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
Moon Festival has survived over 3,000 years, and it continues to run strong both across Asia and around the world as carried out by the diaspora. Traditional Moon Festival events include gathering with friends and family, lantern lighting, dances and food.
“Traditionally, this event is meant to promote the gathering of family and friends and giving thanks for the harvest,” said Kenta Xu, fourth-year CMPE and co-president of VSA.
VSA worked in conjunction with other multicultural student organizations to provide a diverse line-up of events and entertainment for the Tech community.
Promotional materials promised the event “… would serve many traditional Asian Cuisines and will have plenty of entertainment, games, and prizes!”
This year, VSA’s Moon Festival had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, but event organizers did not let delays diminish the event.
The celebration drew impressively high attendance. The music, crowds and brightly lit lanterns along Tech Green were enough to catch the attention of students walking by.
“So we were coming by after taking the flu shot, and we saw some events were going on. And we decided, ‘Okay, let’s go,’” said Roshani Bulkunde, ECON graduate student.
Event Organizers said this was the goal behind hosting a large free admission event in the heart of campus — to be inclusive by inviting all members of the Tech community to participate in and learn about cultural practices they may be unfamiliar with.
“Because we wanted to be as inclusive as possible, Georgia Tech’s VSA invited basically anyone on-campus or off-campus who wants to come and enjoy Vietnamese culture as well as other Asian cultures,” Xu said.
With the help of other multicultural student groups such as the Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and Indonesian Student Associations, Moon Festival featured games and performances from across Asia.
“I appreciated the food and the variety of performances that showcased different cultures …there was even a Hindi a capella group which I thought was really cool,” said third-year EAS Sara Delawalla.
This year’s event was also able to rely on its success from the 2019 Moon Festival. Several attendees who enjoyed their experience at the previous event were excited to return to the celebration.
“I remember the vibes were good when I went in freshman year,” Delawalla said.
Some of the most popular features of this year’s Moon Festival were the games. The Japanese Student Association brought Kendama — a Japanese cup-and-ball game. Crowds gathered around a table to play Bau cua tôm cá, a Vietnamese gambling game where players bet on which space the dice will land on the playing mat.
Winners received tickets, which could be spent on a variety of prizes including plush toys, stickers and event t-shirts.
Competition was high-spirited and, at times, cutthroat. Some players gave up on the games altogether, resigning to picking up tickets that were dropped on the ground to win the coveted prizes.
A Boba plushie was a highly sought-after item. Audible groans could be heard through the crowd when event organizers announced there was only one left.
As is true with any Tech event, free food draws a crowd. VSA provided a wide selection of cultural foods free to attendees, which was a main feature that piqued the interest of event participants.
“I chose to go to the Moon Festival because I heard there was going to be free food and entertainment, specifically, I was really excited to try Vietnamese coffee,” said Sneha Roy, second-year CS.
The entertainment section of the evening displayed Pan-Asian performances.
Features included dancing by GT VSA Fan Dancers and GT Seolstice, singing by Taal Tadka, a South Asian fusion a cappella group and a Chinese yo-yo performance by Jerry Han, third-year CS.
Xu emphasized the games, food and performances were all to accomplish the central goal of the holiday — a gathering of friends, family and community members.
“It’s seeing everyone happy — a bunch of people gathering, taking pictures and laughing,” Xu said.
“That’s my favorite part of this and that’s why I want to keep it going each year.”
VSA is open to all students, no matter their racial or cultural background. To learn more about VSA and future events, follow @gt.vsa on Instagram.