Bhangra is a traditional folk dance from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. This dance is characterized by its use of Punjabi Boliyan texts, a style of distich singing. Boliyan is used to express emotions about a specific situation, especially love, money and relationships. It is traditionally sung by women. Bhangra’s music can consist of many types of instruments, but always contains the dhol drum. The dhol is a large wooden drum.
The dance itself is traditionally performed within a circle. Men and women dance to the dhol rhythm, although sometimes a dance can only be male or only female. It generally involves a lot of arm and shoulder movements and is fast. Depending on the style, props such as sticks or swords can also be used.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this dance is the style of clothing worn, which is always very bright and colorful. They are made to represent traditional clothes used in rural areas of the Punjabi region. Men usually wear a turban, which is tied differently than the everyday turbans used by Sikh practitioners. They also wear very long wide shirts, called kurta, and baggy pants surmounted by a loincloth, called lungi. Above their shirts, men wear a jugi which is a vest without buttons. Women wear a salwar kameez. This set consists of a pair of wide pants that are tight around the ankle and a long tunic shirt. They also wear a long scarf around the neck, called chunnis.
- Origins –
As mentioned above, this dance originated in the Punjab region of India. Beginning with the 20th Century, Bhangra’s dance form was traditionally used as a means of celebrating the harvest. It grew in popularity in the middle years of the century and, in 1947, was used to open the Baisakhi Festival, which is celebrated in April of each year. The dance subsequently became part of weddings and New Year celebrations.
- Dissemination and development –
Since Bhangra became popular in the mid 1900s, it has undergone a series of significant changes. Today people enjoy dancing both in Punjab and throughout Southeast Asia. It has become popular for parties, parties and nightclubs. The musical style has also changed and now shows a fusion between traditional Bhangra music and western style pop and Hindi movie songs. Now Bhangra enthusiasts enjoy three types of dance, including the traditional, the free form and the modern.
The free form style of Bhangra developed after independence was granted to India in 1947. The separation of India and Pakistan placed most of the Bhangra region in Pakistan. At the same time, Sikhs and Hindus left Pakistan to settle in Punjab, India. By 1950, the free form of Bhangra had emerged here. A dance group was commissioned by the Maharaja to perform in 1953, which some consider the first performance to be free. The free form continued as a dance style for the stage, incorporating the traditional steps with dances by Luddi, Gham Luddi, Jhumar and Dhamal. Growing in popularity throughout the 1950s and from the free form of 1970 it had established a relatively standard style. This style has been spread throughout the world by Punjabi immigrants.
Modern Bhangra developed in 1990. This style combined the traditional steps of Bhangra with western dance styles. Music is often a pre-recorded dance mix. It has become popular in the international communities of Punjabi and is often represented in competitions.
- Notable professionals –
Some of Bhangra’s most famous performers are Inderjit Nikku, Jasbir Jassi and Sukshinder Shinda. Inderjit Nikku is originally from the district of Ludhiana, in the Indian state of Punjab. Sukshinder Shinda is from Birmingham, England, and Jasbir Jassi is originally from Punjab in India.
- Greater importance and inheritance –
Bhangra is now a widely recognized dance that attracts audiences and participants from all over the world. His dance moves have been incorporated into training routines and presented at festivals and competitions. Dance offers people with a common Punjabi background a way to express and honor their culture.