University of Pittsburgh
December 22, 1999

PITT'S NEW INDIAN NATIONALITY ROOM TO OPEN By invitation only

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 23 -- The Indian Nationality Room, the 26th room in the University of Pittsburgh's ethnic collection of rooms created to preserve Pittsburgh's diverse cultural traditions, will be dedicated on Sunday, Jan. 9, at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony in Heinz Memorial Chapel, followed by an invitation-only reception and room visit in the Cathedral of Learning (CL).

Prior to the 3:30 p.m. reception, media are invited to view privately the Indian Room, 327 CL, at 3 p.m. while other guests attend the formal dedication in Heinz Chapel.

Following the formal dedication ceremony, ethnically costumed participants, representing many of the Nationality Rooms, will process from Heinz Chapel to CL where they will be welcomed by Tabla and Mrdrangam drummers. Media and invited guests can experience Indian culture by sampling traditional foods and enjoying classical Indian dancing.

The Indian Nationality Room celebrates India's educational heritage and architecture during the third through ninth centuries—a period known as India's Golden Age—when literature, art, architecture, and education reached new peaks of creativity. The room, based on a monastery courtyard/classroom at India's ancient Nalanda University, features replicas of stone columns, brick floors, walls, pilasters, and sculptures still visible at the archaeological site.

Committee members decided to use Nalanda University for the room's concept to focus on the importance of ancient Indian educational traditions, which reached their culmination at Nalanda. They said they also felt it was an appropriate choice since the Nationality Rooms are housed at a university.

Deepak Wadhwani, designer and architect of the room, developed the room's monastery courtyard design after a site visit to Nalanda in 1994. Along with Wadhwani, Maxine Bruhns, director of the Nationality Rooms Program, went to the National Museum in New Delhi in 1998 to select artifacts to be replicated for the room.

The Indian community has set two records in the history of the Nationality Rooms Program. It is the first community to raise the funds to design, construct, and dedicate its classroom in less than seven and a half years, and the first to dedicate its room in the new millennium.

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