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Bhangra Dance

Joe Thomas

Bhangra is a lively form of music and dance that
originated in the Punjab region in Southeast Asia. As
many Bhangra lyrics reflect the long and often
tumultuous history of the Punjab, knowledge of
Punjabi history offers important insights into the meaning of the music. While Bhangra
began as a part of harvest festival celebrations, it eventually became a part of such diverse
occasions as weddings and New Year celebrations. Moreover, during the last thirty years,
Bhangra has enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide, both in traditional form and as a
fusion with genres such as hip-hop, house, and reggae. As Bhangra continues to move
into mainstream culture, an understanding of its history and tradition helps to appreciate it.
The birthplace of Bhangra is a region extending over Northern India and Northern
Pakistan. “Punjab” is translated as “Land of Five Rivers.” The people of the Punjab are
called Punjabis and they speak a language called Punjabi. There are three main religions
in the Punjab area and these are Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam. The religion has been
invaded and ruled by many different empires and races, including the Ayrans, Persians,
Greeks, Muslims and Mongols. The 19th Century saw the beginning of the British rule over
India which led to several heroic freedom fighters, the subject of many Bhangra songs. At
the end of the British rule in 1947 Bhangra was split between Pakistan and India. This
partitioning resulted in a large migration of Punjabis into the United Kingdom which
eventually led to the popularity of Bhangra in western societies.

The Bhangra
Although Bhangra has said to have existed since as long as 300 BC, over the past 4
decades it has experienced new highs in popularity and innovation. The term “Bhangra”
has gradually evolved and now refers to many different sub-classes of dance and music for
many different social and religious occasions. Some of these sub-classes include Jhumar,
Luddi, Giddha, Julli, Daankara, Dhamal, Saami, Kikli, and Gatka.
Alongside these different dances, a Bhangra performance typically contains many
energetic stunts. The most popular stunt is called the moor (the peacock) in which a dance
sits on someone’s shoulders while another person hangs from his torso by his legs. Other
popular stunts include two-person towers, pyramids and many spinning stunts.

The width of a dhol skin is about fifteen inches in general. Many Bhangra songs make references to the duppatta. Bhangra also features a variety of string and other drum instruments. while the supp and chimta add extra. A lungi is a colorful piece of cloth wrapped around the waist. Finally. A salvar kameez is composed of a long colorful shirt and baggy. light sound to Bhangra music. The string instruments include the tumbi. The primary and most important instrument that defines Bhangra is the dhol. men wear a lungi while doing Bhangra. vibrant pants. similar to the violin. the dhad. played by beating it with two sticks. The dhol is a large. Although it has only one string. and chimta. high-bass drum. Men also wear a kurta. Bhangra Instruments Many different Punjabi instruments contribute to the sound of Bhangra. dafli. The sapera produces a beautiful. and the dhol player holds his instrument with a strap around his neck. dafli. and damru are instruments that produce more drum beats. sarangi. Women also wear duppattas. high-pitched stringy beat. colorful pieces of cloth wrapped around the neck.also known as turbans . sapera. and damru are the other drums. The dhad. supp. mastering the tumbi takes many years. Women wear the traditional Punjabi dress. .to cover their heads. The sarangi is a multi-stringed instrument. dholki. men wear Bhugaris . dholki. but with much less bass than the dhol drum.Bhangra Costumes Traditionally. which is a long Punjabi-style shirt. salvar kameez. The tumbi is a high-tone. Although the most important instrument is the dhol drum. Finally. single-string instrument.