Bhangra is a type of traditional folk dance of Punjab, originating in the Sialkot area of Punjab, Pakistan. It is done in the season of harvesting. According to Manuel (2001), bhangra is especially associated with the vernal Vaisakhi festival.
Bhangra was mainly done by Punjabi farmers during the harvesting season. It was mainly performed while farmers did agricultural chores. As they did each farming activity they would perform bhangra moves on the spot. This allowed them to finish their job in a pleasurable way. After harvesting their wheat crops during the Vaisakhi season, people used to attend cultural festivals while dancing bhangra. For many years, farmers performed bhangra to showcase a sense of accomplishment and to welcome the new harvesting season.
The origins of traditional bhangra are speculative. According to Dhillon (1998), bhangra is related to the Punjabi dance 'Bagaa', which is a martial dance of Punjab. However, the folk dance of Bhangra originated in the Sialkot district of Majha. The traditional form of bhangra danced in the villages of Sialkot district was regarded as the standard. The community form of traditional bhangra has been maintained in Gurdaspur district, India, and has been maintained by people who have settled in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. Traditional bhangra is performed in a circle and is performed using traditional dance steps. Traditional bhangra is now also performed on occasions other than during the harvest season. According to Ganhar (1975), bhangra originated in Sialkot of Majha which shares high affinity with Jammu making it part of the heritage of Jammu which is danced on Baisakhi. Other Punjabi folk dances such as Giddha and Luddi have also been heritage of Jammu. Punjabi language influences can be observed when people dance such dances. Jammu falls within the Punjab region and shares an affinity with Punjab.
The 1950s saw the development of the free form traditional bhangra in Punjab, which was patronized by the Maharaja of Patiala, who requested a staged performance of bhangra in 1953. The first significant developers of this style were a dance troupe led by brothers from the Deepak family of Sunam (Manohar, Avtar and Gurbachan) and the dhol player Bhana Ram Sunami. Free form traditional bhangra developed during stage performances which incorporate traditional bhangra moves and also include sequences from other Punjabi dances, namely, Luddi, Jhummar, Dhamaal, and Gham Luddi. The singing of Punjabi folk songs, boliyan, are incorporated from Malwai Giddha. Bhangra competitions have been held in Punjab, India, for many decades, with Mohindra College in Patiala being involved in the 1950s.
Bhangra connects to a much deeper set of masculine values. Most of these values are set through labour, industry and self-sufficiency in agriculture, loyalty, independence and bravery in personal, political and military endeavours; and the development and expression of virility, vigour, and honour are common themes. Bhangra referred both to formal male performances and to communal dancing among men and women. In the past 30 years, bhangra has been established all over the world. It has become integrated into popular Asian culture after being mixed with hip hop, house and reggae styles of music. Certain bhangra moves have been adapted and changed over time but at its core remains a sense of cultural identity and tradition. We see bhangra take place mainly in the Punjabi culture. Many people tend to showcase bhangra as a source of joy and entertainment at weddings, parties, and all sorts of celebrations.
Many people also do bhangra as a source of exercise, it is an excellent substitution to the gym. Traditionally, bhangra is danced by men but now we see both men and women participating in this dance form. With bhangra competitions all over the world, we see all sorts of people competing in these events.
Nowadays, many second-generation Punjabi women who are connecting with their culture through bhangra. Many of these young girls tend to bring their bhangra moves into the club scene. D.J. Rekha was one of the first South Asian women to bring popularity to bhangra in the U.S by introducing her Basement Bhangra Parties. Many university and community clubs have started their own bhangra teams. Most of these teams have a wide variety of men and women who come from different backgrounds. Many businesses have created bhangra clubs with the mindset to teach younger kids bhangra. These programs have helped young children stay healthy and connected to the culture of bhangra. Sarina Jain was the very first woman who created the bhangra fitness workout, which is now known as the Masala Bhangra Workout. This workout has taught many people in Iceland the basic steps associated with bhangra, allowing them to learn bhangra in the comfort of their own home.
Raaniyan Di Raunaq is India's first all-women's bhangra competition. Even with the abundance of female bhangra performers, many see this dance form as only masculine. Historically, women have fought for the right to perform bhangra. Many women that compete in bhangra shows are judged according to a criterion that is made for male performers. Raaniyan Di Raunaq has customized a bhangra competition just for women or for those who identify as transgender or nonbinary. This competition has coveted a safe space for women to have the ability to compete and be judged equally.
The roots of modern bhangra music date back to the Sikh Punjabi community in Punjab during the 1960s. An early pop music and modern recording artist/group of this type of music in the United Kingdom was Bhujhangy Group, founded by Tarlochan Singh Bilga, Balbir Singh Khanpur, Gurpal, Rajinder Dhona, and Dalvir Kahanpuri in Birmingham in 1971. Bhujhangy Group's first major hit was "Bhabiye Akh Larr Gayee" Lyric by Tarlochan Singh Bilga the early 1975s, released on Birmingham's Oriental Star Agencies label. This was the first song to combine traditional Asian music with modern Western instruments.
A modern and commercial form of bhangra music was said to rise in Britain in the 1970s by Punjabi immigrants who took their native folk music and began experimenting by altering it using instruments from their host country. The new genre quickly became popular in Britain replacing Punjabi folk singers due to it being heavily influenced in Britain by the infusion of rock music and a need to move away from the simple and repetitive Punjabi folk music. It indicated the development of a self-conscious and distinctively rebellious British Asian youth culture centred on an experiential sense of self, e.g., language, gesture, bodily signification, desires, etc., in a situation in which tensions with British culture and racist elements in British society had resulted in alienation in many minority ethnic groups, fostered a sense of need for an affirmation of a positive identity and culture, and provided a platform for British Punjabi males to assert their masculinity.
In the 1980s, distributed by record labels such as Multitone Records, bhangra artists were selling over 30,000 cassettes a week in the UK, but no artists reached the Top 40 UK chart despite these artists outselling popular British ones; most of the bhangra cassette sales were not through the large UK record stores, whose sales were those recorded by the Official UK Charts Company for creating their rankings.
The group Alaap formed in 1977, co-founded by Channi Singh and Harjeet Gandhi who both hailed from Southall, a Punjabi area in London. Their album Teri Chunni De Sitaray was released in 1982 by Multitone. Alaap was considered the first and original superstar bhangra band formed in the United Kingdom. Channi Singh has been awarded the OBE by the Queen for his services to bhangra music and services/charity for the British Asian community. Co-founder Harjeet Gandhi died in 2003.
The 1980s is commonly known as the golden age, or the age of bhangra music, which lasted roughly from 1985 to 1993. The primary emphasis during these times was on the melody/riff, played out usually on a synthesizer, harmonium, accordion or a guitar. The folk instruments were rarely used
One of the biggest bhangra stars of the last several decades is Malkit Singh and his band Golden Star. Singh was born in June 1963 in the village of Hussainpur in Punjab. He attended the Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, in Punjab in 1980 to study for a bachelor of arts degree. There he met his mentor, Professor Inderjit Singh, who taught him Punjabi folk singing and bhangra dancing. Due to Singh's tutelage, Malkit entered and won song contests during this time. In 1983, he won a gold medal at the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab, for performing his song "Gurh Nalon Ishq Mitha", which later featured on his first album, Nach Gidhe Wich, Lyric by Tarlochan Singh Bilga released in 1985. This album was created with Manager, Tarlochan Singh Bilga(TSB). The band has toured 27 countries. Malkit has been awarded the MBE by the Queen for his services to bhangra music.
Bands like Alaap and Heera incorporated rock-influenced beats into bhangra, because it enabled "Asian youth to affirm their identities positively" within the broader environment of alternative rock as an alternative way of expression. However, some believe that the progression of bhangra music created an "intermezzo culture" post-India's partition, within the unitary definitions of Southeast Asians within the diaspora, thus "establishing a brand new community in their home away from home".
This era also brought about bhangra art, which like the bhangra music it represented was rebellious. Unlike folk music art, which consisted of a picture of the folk singer, bhangra recordings had details such as distinctive artwork, logos, clever album names and band/musician listings (who played what). 041b061a72