Originating from North India is a renowned traditional dance form known as “Bhangra”. This dance form essentially performed during the “harvest season” has been developed in the Majha region located in Punjab. In addition, 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:
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 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”.
b. Costumes used in the Bhangra:
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 males:
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 females:
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:
The music created for the Bhangra possesses 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. Furthermore, the lively music used for this dance form is backed up by lyrics of Punjabi folk songs referred to as “Dhola”. 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
The English version:
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
d. Training availability and dance technique used in the Bhangra
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.