The 23rd edition of Insti’s Annual Techno-Entertainment fest kickstarted on January 13th. Shaastra 2022 – themed “Code to Chaos” was organised to be a completely online and virtual experience, avoiding all offline events amidst the surging Omicron wave. However, Shaastra did create a festive ambience for those at IITM – with lights and lamps lit up across the campus and the iconic pair of dice positioned at Gajendra Circle.
The fest was hosted on a website (www.shaastra2022.com) that was curated as a one-stop destination for all events, workshops, shows and exhibitions. The futuristic design for the site was based on the idea of a hypothetical IITM Campus on Mars. The platform allowed users to enjoy an immersive experience of walking along the familiar roads that encompass OAT, Gajendra Circle, NAC among other landmarks. The inclusion of a virtual help desk with coordinators providing real-time assistance helped newbies navigate their way through.
Shaastra Spotlight comprised several dignitaries from the tech world and beyond, with popular names like Jane Goodall, David Patterson, Shashi Tharoor and Carolina Marin forming the lineup. The diverse series of lectures by various eminent speakers spanned the fields of art, science, technology and entertainment – and was certainly a highlight of this year’s Shaastra. As a part of the Gaming-Tech Summit, informative talks and skill-building sessions were conducted by experts from both industry and academia in the field of VR/AR and Haptics.
Shaastra 2022 consisted of a plethora of events ranging across Coding, Business, Design and more. It included the flagship Shaastra Programming Contest, the Tata Projects Sustainability Challenge and Drone Applications Hackathon to name a few and the events saw registrations crossing 1000 with a turnout of over 400 participants.
A healthy sponsorship with 35 sponsors this year implied competitive prize pools that matched and surpassed those of some offline tenures. The Blitz Chess Tournament saw over 40 titled players contesting for the championship. Shaastra’s workshops were organised by professional trainers as well as the Institute CFI clubs. The workshops also saw a great turnout thanks to the convenience offered by the online mode. Additionally, participants had a unique login on the website that provided access to paid events and workshops which not only made it secure and seamless but also gave them a realistic vibe by assigning venues at virtual locations, similar to how it would have been in an offline scenario.
Shaastra Nights are one of the most anticipated events of the fest, and this year’s artists truly added to the excitement. First up was Spectre, featuring India’s only female illusionist and magician – Suhani Shah. Saturday evening was lit up by Biswa Kalyan Rath, performing his act as a part of Chaos – the night that hosted Kenny Sebastian in the previous edition. The comedy shows were not only streamed live on the Shaastra 2022 Virtual Realm but also accessible by the Zoom links which were made public to the entire institute for ease of access and added interaction with the artist. Shaastra 2022 offered further perks to its organising team with an exclusive comedy show featuring Rahul Dua as the closing event on January 16th.
Shaastra 2022 had on display a vibrant set of exhibitions – including the popular Institute Open House organised by CFI clubs and competitive teams. This was made possible at stalls on the platform that acted as a bridge to virtual meetings. Companies like Ather Energy and Yaskawa Robotics also had exhibits of their state of the art technology. The Envisage team had their own mesmerizing game exhibit as well.
Shaastra 2022 surely lived up to the expectations, and avoided repeating flaws from the first online version. With the rise in Omicron cases and the consequent lockdown, the fest was definitely a pleasant escape from reality and cruised out of possible COVID woes. As students find themselves entering into yet another potentially online semester, Shaastra might have just been the proverbial calm before the storm.