Bhangra is one of the most vibrant of the Indian folk dances originating from North India. This traditional folk dance was developed in the Majha region located in Punjab, is essentially performed during the harvest season. Since the state of Punjab was partitioned soon after India acquired Independence from the British Raj in 1947, this dance form is also extremely popular in Pakistan. In fact, this vibrant dance form is said to have taken shape in Sialkot (now situated in Pakistan). Furthermore, it is also said that this dance form is closely linked to a “Punjabi martial dance” known as “Bagga”.

a. History/origin of the Bhangra dance:

According to history the original version of this dance form was first established in the city of Sialkot. It is also said that it was post-independence when Punjab was eventually divided that this dance form was then carried to India namely to a city called Gurdaspur. Furthermore, it is the Bhangra performed in this city (Gurdaspur) which has now been recognized as the “traditional form”. In addition, this dance form as of today is also extremely popular in Pakistan. It is also considered to be performed mainly during the “harvest festival” i.e. Vaishakhi. As of today due to the large scale migration that the state of Punjab has witnessed, this dance form has not only spread to countries such as USA and United Kingdom (via the expatriate community) but, has also evolved into form that is commonly referred to as “Modern Bhangra”.

The early British Bhangra lyrics, which focused basically on dance, partying, and having fun, were generally practiced more repetitively and with less substance than their counterparts in South Asia. There was a time in the mid-1990s when British musicians like Apache Indian, with his album No Reservations, used music as a vehicle for negative social commentary. The song moved increasingly from Punjabi to English to a mixture of the two, making the music more similar for an international market.

b. Costumes used in the Bhangra dance:

This dance form can be performed by men and women alike, and hence the costume used varies accordingly. Therefore the dress code followed in this dance form by a performer is as follows:

1. For men:

The costume includes a Pag i.e. turban, a kurta i.e. a silk shirt comprising of four buttons, tehmat i.e. a loincloth tied around the waist, chagi i.e. a waistcoat, and Rumal i.e. scarves tied around the fingers.

2. For women:

The attire includes a traditional Punjabi female dress suit known as salwar kameez that includes a colourful shirt and long baggy pant and chunnis i.e. a colourful cloth usually wrapped around the neck.

c. Music used in the Bhangra dance:

The Bhangra music has an extremely lively rhythm and is based on a fast “eight-beat taal” known as Kahaerava. In addition, the bhangra music is created using traditional Indian instruments that include Ekta, Sarangi, Chimpta, Dhol, Daffali, Dholak, and Dhad. The wooden drum with a two sided barrel played with thin cane sticks provides distinct and bass sounds. Furthermore, the lively music used for this dance form is backed up by lyrics of Punjabi folk songs referred to as “Dhola”. The epitome of music is expressive and enchanting, which attracts the attention of the viewers. The original lyrics and the English version are as follows:

ਕੰਨਾ ਨੂੰ ਬੁੰਦੇ ਸਿਰ ਛੱਤੇ ਨੇ ਕਾਲੇ

ਦਹੀ ਦੇ ਧੋਤੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੱਖਣਾ ਦੇ ਪਾਲੇ

ਰੱਲ ਮਿਟੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਗਏ ਨੇ

ਸੱਜਣ ਕੌਲ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਲੇ

ਤੇਰੇ ਬਾਝੋਂ ਵੇ ਢੋਲਿਆ

ਸਾਨੂੰ ਕੌਣ ਸੰਭਾਲੇ

In English:

kana noo bunde sir chhate kale

dahi de dhote mere makhna de pale

ral mitti vich gaye ne

sajan kol nahi pale

tere bajo ve dholeya

sanu kaun sambhalay

Style of Bhangra dance

The Bhangra style is a rich, artistic form of dance that has its roots in Punjar, warriors, and Folklore. Anyone can join and shake their legs with the group.

The interesting thing about Bhangra is that it is not just a solo dance but involves a large number of subgenres as well. Dhamal, Jhumar, Daankara, Luddi, Giddha, Julli, Gatka, Saami, and Kikli are major genres of Bhangra. The dance style is all about grace, speed, balance, fun, and symmetry. The rhythm of the musical instrument is more energetic and catchy to hear when they are performing Bhangra.

The traditional Bhangra consists of live, vivacious music with a dhol beat that attracts people to move unintentionally with the beats. The dance as well as the music style has evolved and largely gone international.

Famous Bhangra Dancers :-

Inderjit Nikku, Jagmohan Kaur, Jasbir Jassi, Jassi Premi Jas, Sukhshinder Shinda, and Manpreet Toor are some of the well known Bhangra dancers.

d. Training availability and dance technique used in the Bhangra dance:

As for the technique, this dance form essentially involves a group of dancers moving rhythmically in a circle to the beat of the Punjabi folk song. Over the years due to high migration that Punjab experienced the traditional Bhangra as slowly evolved into a rather modern form. This modern version of bhangra basically entails western influences not only in the dance movements but also in the music used. In terms of training, there are a number of institutes/schools that are available throughout the country that teach the basics of this extremely exciting and popular dance form.

Checkout these popular Bhangra tutorial Videos for Beginners :

Learn how to do Bhangra
Easy Bhangra Dance Tutorial || Candlelight || Top 3 Beginner Bhangra Steps || BHANGRAlicious
Learn Bhangra Dance Online Tutorial For Beginners | Single Dhamaal Step By Step | Lesson 1
Despacito | Bhangra Performance | Luis Fonsi – ft. Daddy Yankee | Way Of Bhangra (2017)
YEAH BABY || Garry Sandhu || Shehnaz Gill || BHANGRAlicious Dance #YeahBaby #ShehnazGill
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