In the first week of April every year, all the students of IIT-Bombay eagerly await their results. These are not exam results, but the tally of the inter-hostel championships that took place throughout the year.
This tally determines which hostel is the best in which field and academic achievements are strictly excluded. Fourteen hostels battle it out in general championships in three categories — culture, sports and technology. General championships are a platform where the best in the institute fight it out for glory of their hostels.
Cut away from all life for four years, it is the hostel that becomes home for most IITians. It gives them a sense of belonging. The seniors become their mentors and their roommates their best friends. The selection to hostels is random, but once part of a hostel a student owes it allegiance almost like out of a Harry Potter book. In fact, most alumni donate for the upkeep of their former hostels because of the bittersweet memories which stay with them for life.
“Hostel life is the best part of being an IITian. It’s what defines your stay at any IIT. From birthday treats to long philosophical discussions, to cheering your team at inter-hostel events, every moment is an experience,” said Rahul Gaur, the IIT-B cultural secretary. “So when you help win a championship, you are doing it for the pride of your hostel.”
A general championship includes a variety of events conducted during the academic year. For example, there are 12 events in the cultural sphere, 12 in sports and five in technology.
Sidhartha Das is part of Hostel 4, which has won the sports championship for seven years in a row. “We have a reputation for sports and the environment in the hostel is such that it provides the impetus to perform well and keep that reputation in tact,” said the football player.
The best example of this allegiance is when two rival hostels play a football match or during the performing arts festival, when each hostel puts up a musical and exhibits its technical expertise through the fascinating sets the students create.
“At the IITs, study is routine, it is these extracurricular activities that make a hostel stand out as cool. We all respect Hostel 4 for its sporting achievements. Our hostel is very dear to our hearts,” said Vishrut Chaslani, from Hostel 2 which won the technology championship this year.