Entertaining ourselves has developed a whole new depth of meaning during 2020. Escape from our home offices and makeshift study rooms is essential to not only keep up with our work but have some much-needed fun too.
Among the various trends that have come with COVID-19 isolation — from baking your own bread to sanitizing every surface available, perhaps the crowning jewel is Tik Tok dances and challenges.
For the Jikaria sisters — Omika, Rishika, and Aashika — that’s how their TikTok account started, as a way to beat the boredom and have fun. The trio of Gujarati American sisters all came home once isolation kicked off. While they never expected their dances and videos to take off so immensely, they are more than grateful for the community they have created so far.
“As uncertainty, fear, and darkness are pervasive throughout mainstream media right now, we are grateful to have found a source of joy and positivity that we can share with others.”
Their TikTok account is full of Bollywood and Hip-Hop fusion videos, combined with original choreography and an abundance of culture. All three sisters have been dancing their entire lives in styles like classical Russian ballet, Bharatnatyam, ballroom, jazz, and contemporary. Aashika dances on Georgia Tech’s collegiate level dance team, Goldrush, Rishika danced for her college’s Garba-Raas and Bhangra teams, and Omika is trained as a semi-professional salsa dancer. The sisters said, “Dance has been a constant in our lives. As we grew older and developed a more personal connection to art, dance became an antidote to the stress of school.”
This antidote prevails today in their lives, with 319.5k followers and 4.1m likes on their TikTok videos, the girls quickly realized their videos were more than just an outlet.
“One of our first videos that gained traction quickly, was a remake of the “Oh Na Na” challenge using dandiya. We noticed that people enjoyed seeing us engage with our Gujarati identity. This inspired us to create dances to fusion mixes and incorporate our South Asian-American identity into the dances we choreograph.”
Creating these videos and dances allowed the Jikaria sisters to explore their identities and share their culture with an audience in an unprecedented way.
“Growing up, we felt as if our Indian and American identities were mutually exclusive; we did not think that both identities could co-exist. It was easy to feel as if engaging with our Indian identity made us less American and vice versa, mainly due to limited representation of South Asian Americans in mainstream media and in positions of societal influence,” they said.
“Once we went to college and met other South Asian Americans, we each became more comfortable with our unique, mixed identity. Now, we seek to bring that to our content.”
As the Jikaria sisters continue to take the TikTok world and other forms of social media by storm, they remind me, a fellow Gujarati American girl to be proud of my culture. Our identities extend beyond our homes and families. Art allows an outlet to express those identities — and as they’ve displayed in their videos, that’s something to revel in.