The Full Wiki

Bhangra: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Bhaṅgṛā (Punjabi: ਭੰਗੜਾ, بھنگڑا) ( , ; ) is a form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region of Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker. Bhangra began as a folk dance conducted by Sikhs to celebrate the coming of Vaisakhi, a Punjabi festival. The specific moves reflect the manner in which villagers farmed their land. This musical art further became synthesized after the partition of India, when refugees from different parts of the Punjab shared their folk dances with individuals who resided in the regions they settled in. This hybrid dance became Bhangra. The dance started from just one move and evolved later on. It has been popularized by Punjabi artists from the Sikh communities, with which it is now commonly associated. Today, bhangra survives in different forms and styles all over the globe – including pop music, film soundtracks, collegiate competitions and even talent shows.


Traditional Bhangra is a form of dance based on a dhol beat called 'bhangra' singing and the beat of the dhol drum, a single-stringed instrument called the iktar (ektara), the tumbi and the chimta. The accompanying songs are small couplets written in the Punjabi language called bolis. They relate to current issues faced by the singers and (dil the gal) what they truly want to say. In Punjabi folk music, the dhol's smaller cousin, the dholki, was nearly always used to provide the main beat. Nowadays the dhol is used more frequently, with and without the dholki. Additional percussion, including tabla, is less frequently used in bhangra as a solo instrument but is sometimes used to accompany the dhol and dholki. The dholki drum patterns in Bhangra music bear an intimate similarity to the rhythms in Reggae music. This rhythm serves as a common thread which allows for easy commingling between Bhangra and Reggae as demonstrated by such artists as the UK's Apache Indian.

Whereas bhangra dance, and its accompanying dhol beat are part of the Punjabi folk music genre, bhangra music itself is a genre that was created in the early 80s by bands in UK who rarely, if ever used traditional Punjabi instruments other than the dholki.

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. During the last thirty years, Bhangra enjoyed popularity from the early 80s all the way thru the mid 90s when it was replaced by Punjabi folk music/Punjabi folk remixes.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, several Punjabi singers from the United Kingdommarker set the stage for Bhangra to become a mass phenomenon. The success of many Punjabi artists based in the United Kingdom, created a fanbase, inspired new artists, and found large amounts of support in both East and West Punjab. These artists, some of whom are still active today, include, Heera Group, Alaap band, A.S. Kang and Apna Sangeet.

In the 1980s

A Child in Bhangra costume
Major migrations of the Sikh Punjabis to the UK brought with them the Bhangra music, which became popular in Britain during the 1980s, although heavily influenced in Britain by the infusion of rock sounds. It signaled the development of a self-conscious and distinctively British Asian youth culture centred on an experiential sense of self i.e. 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 and fostered a sense of need for an affirmation of a positive identity and culture, and provided a platform for British Asian males to assert their masculinity.

Bhangra dancing was originally perceived as a male dance, a "man's song", with strong, intense movements. However, "Second-generation South Asian American women are increasingly turning to bhangra as a way of defining cultural identity."

In the 1980s Bhangra artists were selling over 30,000 cassettes a week in the UK, but not one artist made their way into the Top 40 UK Chart, despite these artists outselling popular British ones, as most sales were not through the large UK record stores whose sales were recorded by the Official UK Charts Company.

The 1980s is also what is commonly known as the golden age or what the "bhangraheads" refer to as 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 musician/composer received as much fanfare if not more, than the vocalist. The folk instruments were rarely used because it was agreed that the music was independent of the instruments being used.

One of the biggest Bhangra stars of the last several decades is Malkit Singh — known as "the golden voice of the Punjab" — and his group, Golden Star. Malkit was born in June 1963, in the village of Hussainpur in Punjab. He attended the Khalsa College, Jalandhar, in Punjab, in 1980 to study for a bachelor of arts degree. There he met his mentor, Professor Inderjit Singh, who nurtured his skills in Punjabi folk singing and Bhangra dancing. Due to Singh's tutelage, Malkit entered and won many song contests during this time. In 1983 he won a gold medal at the Guru Nanak Dev University, in Amritsarmarker, Punjab, for performing his hit song Gurh Naloo Ishq Mitha, which later featured on his first album, Nach Gidhe Wich, released in 1984. The album was a strong hit among South Asians worldwide, and after its release Malkit and his band moved to the United Kingdom to continue their work. Malkit has now produced 16 albums and has toured 27 countries in his Bhangra career. Malkit has been awarded the prestigious MBE by the British Queen for his services to Bhangra music.

Gurdas Mann, a multi-talented Punjabi singer from the Punjab region, took Punjabi music world by storm. He started his career in 1980 with his first album, Dil Da Mamla, followed by his huge hit Masti, musically directed by Charanjit Ahuja, the man who changed the sound of Punjabi music in India with the use of non-ethnic instruments such as Spanish guitars, saxophone and trumpet. Since then Gurdas Maan has become an idol for many, not only for his lyrical and musical talent, but also his acting ability. He appeared in the Punjabi film Long Da Lishkara, which included the mega hit Challa (remixed in 1999 by Punjabi MC on his album "Legalised"). Since 1982, Gurdass Mann has released a number of hit albums, performed at sold-out concerts around the world, and has released many popular singles, including "Apna Punjab".

The group Alaap, fronted by Channi Singh, the man made famous by his white scarf, hails from Southallmarker, a Punjabi area in Londonmarker. Their album "Teri Chunni De Sitaray", released in 1982 by Multitone, created quite a stir at a time when Bhangra was still in its early days in the UK. This album played a critical role in creating an interest in Bhangra among Asian university students in Britain. Alaap were unique with a live-set that was the best ever to play on the Bhangra stage. Their music oozed perfection, especially within the rhythm section. The music produced for Alaap included the pioneering sounds by Deepak Khazanchi.

Heera, formed by Bhupinder Bhindi and fronted by Kumar and Dhami, was one of the most popular bands of the 1980s. Fans were known to gate-crash weddings where they played. The group established itself with the albums "Jag Wala Mela", produced by music maestro of the time Kuljit Bhamra and "Diamonds from Heera", produced by Deepak Khazanchi, the man behind the new sound of UK Bhangra, on Arishma records. These albums are notable for being amongst the first Bhangra albums to successfully create mix Western drums and synthesizers with traditional Punjabi instruments.

Bands such as “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-Indiamarker's Partition, within the unitary definitions of Southeast Asians within the diaspora, thus “establishing a brand new community in their home away from home".

Several other influential groups appeared around the same time, including The Saathies, Bhujungy Group, and Apna Sangeet. Apna Sangeet, most famously known for their hit "Mera Yaar Vajavey Dhol", re-formed in May 2009 after a break-up for charity. They are known as one of the best live acts in Bhangra.

When bhangra and Indian sounds and lyrics were brought together, British-Asian artists began incorporating them in their music. Certain Asian artists, such as Bally Sagoo, Talvin Singh, Badmarsh, Black Star Liner, and State of Bengal are creating their own form of British hip-hop.

Even more well established groups like Cornershop, Fun-Da-Mental, and Asian Dub Foundation are finding different means and methods to create new sounds that other Asian groups have never formed. By mixing the sounds of bhangra with the popular sounds of hard rock and heavy metal, Asians are able to stay true to their own culture, while being open to a world of change. British Asians have to be conscious of both cultures in their everyday life and now are doing so in their music as well.

In the 1990s

Bhangra took large steps toward mainstream credibility in the 1990s, especially among youths. At the beginning of the nineties, many artists returned to the original, folk beats away from bhangra music, often incorporating more dhol drum beats and tumbi. This time also saw the rise of several young Punjabi singers.

This era saw the very first boy band called the sahotas, a band made up of five brothers from wolverhamptonmarker, UK. Their music is a fusion: Bhangra, rock and dance fused with their very own distinctive sound.

Beginning around 1994, there was a trend towards the use of samples (often sampled from mainstream hip hop) mixed with traditional rhythm instruments such as tumbi and dhol.

The newest most influential folk singer was the "Canadian folkster", Jazzy Bains. Originally from Namasher in Punjab, "Jaswinder Bains", as he is commonly referred to, has become one of the preeminent folk artists in the world after his debut in 1992. Having sold over 55,000 copies of his second album, Folk and Funky, he is now one of the best-selling Punjabi folk artist in the world, with a vocal style likened to that of Kuldip Manak. Although much of his music has a traditional Punjabi beat, he is known for having songs that incorporate a hip hop style such as "Romeo". Jazzy Bains gives wide recognition to the success of his many hits to Sukshinder Shinda, who has produced his music.

Other influential folk artists include Surinder Shinda - famous for his "Putt Jattan De" - Harbhajan Mann, Manmohan Waris, Meshi Eshara, Sarbjit Cheema, Hans Raj Hans, Sardool Sikander, Sahotas, Geet the MegaBand, Anakhi, Sat Rang, XLNC, B21, Shaktee, Intermix, Sahara, Paaras, PDM, Amar Group, Sangeet Group, and Bombay Talkie. A folk hop dj to rise to stardom with many successful hits was Panjabi MC.


Bhangra has developed as a combination of dances from different parts of the Punjab region. The term "Bhangra" now refers to several kinds of dances and arts, including Jhumar, Luddi, Giddha, Julli, Daankara, Dhamal, Saami, Kikli, and Gatka.Jhumar, originally from Sandalbar, Punjab, comprises an important part of Punjab folk heritage. It is a graceful dance, based on a specific Jhumar rhythm. Dancers circle around a drum player while singing a soft chorus.

A person performing the Luddi dance places one hand behind his head and the other in front of his face, while swaying his head and arms. He typically wears a plain loose shirt and sways in a snake-like manner. Like a Jhumar dancer, the Luddi dancer moves around a dhol player.Women have a different and much milder dance called Giddha. The dancers enact verses called bolis, representing a wide variety of subjects - everything from arguments with a sister-in-law to political affairs. The rhythm of the dance depends not only the drums, but also on the handclaps of the dancers.Daankara is a dance of celebration, typically performed at weddings. Two men, each holding colorful staves, dance around each other in a circle while tapping their sticks together in rhythm with the drums.Dancers also form a circle while performing Dhamal. They also hold their arms high, shake their shoulders and heads, and yell and scream. Dhamal is a true folk-dance, representing the heart of Bhangra.Women of the Sandalbar region traditionally are known for the Saami. The dancers dress in brightly colored kurtas and full flowing skirts called lehengas.Like Daankara, Kikli features pairs of dancers, this time women. The dancers cross their arms, hold each other's hands, and whirl around singing folk songs. Occasionally four girls join hands to perform this dance.Gatka is a Punjabi Sikh martial art in which people use swords, sticks, or daggers. Historians believe that the sixth Sikh guru started the art of gatka after the martyrdom of fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev. Wherever there is a large Khalsa Punjabi Sikh population, there will be Gatka participants, often including small children and adults. These participants usually perform Gatka on special Punjabi holidays.

In addition to these different dances, a Bhangra performance typically contains many energetic stunts. The most popular stunt is called the moor, or peacock, in which a dancer sits on someone's shoulders, while another person hangs from his torso by his legs. Two-person towers, pyramids, and various spinning stunts are also popular.


Traditional men wear a chaadra while doing Bhangra. A chaadra is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist. Men also wear a kurta, which is a long Indian-style shirt. In addition, men wear pugdee (also known as turbans) to cover their heads.

In modern times, men also wear turla, the fan attached to the pugdee. Colorful vest are worn above the kurta. Fumans (small balls attached to ropes) are worn on each arm.

Women wear a traditional Punjabi dress known as a ghagra. A ghagra is a long colorful skirt which fans out into a giant disk as a woman twirls. Women also wear duppattas, colorful pieces of cloth wrapped around their neck. Many Bhangra songs make references to the duppatta. Also, women wear suits called salwar kamiz; long baggy pants tight at the ankle (salwars) and a long colorful shirt (qamiz).

These items are all very colorful and vibrant, representing the rich rural colors of Punjab. Besides the above, the Bhangra dress has different parts that are listed below in detail:
  • Turla or Torla which is a fan like adornment on the turban
  • Pag (turban, a sign of pride/honor in Punjab). This is tied differently than the traditional turban one sees Sikhs wearing in the street. This turban has to be tied before each show
  • Kaintha (necklace), some men even wear earrings like the large hoops worn by the women dancers
  • Kurta - Similar to a silk shirt, with about 4 buttons, very loose with embroidered patterns.
  • Lungi or Chadar, A loose loincloth tied around the dancer's waist, which is usually very decorated.
  • Jugi: A waistcoat, with no buttons.
  • Rumal: Small 'scarves' worn on the fingers. They look very elegant and are effective when the hands move during the course of bhangra performance.

..and you can see a photo of a bhangra dhol drummer, costumed and in full swing.

According to Sanjay Sharma, in her article, she explains/points out the fact that Bhangra represents Asians and is referred to today as Asian music which accounts for the vast existence of Asian wear and not to mention symbols as part of their traditional dress/costumes.


Bhangra lyrics, always sung in the Punjabi language, generally cover social issues such as love, relationships, money, dancing, getting drunk and marriage. Additionally, there are countless Bhangra songs devoted to Punjabi pride themes and Punjabi heroes. The lyrics are tributes to the rich cultural traditions of the Punjabis. In particular, many Bhangra tracks have been written about Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh. Less serious topics include beautiful ladies with their colorful duppattas, and dancing and drinking in the fields of the Punjab.

Bhangra singers do not sing in the same tone of voice as their Southeast Asian counterparts. Rather, they employ a high, energetic tone of voice. Singing fiercely, and with great pride, they typically add nonsensical, random noises to their singing. Likewise, often people dancing to Bhangra will yell phrases such as hoi, hoi, hoi; balle balle; oye hoi; bruah (for an extended length of about 2–5 seconds); haripa or ch-ch (mostly used as slow beats called Chummer/Jhoomer) to the music.

Some of the more famous Bhangra or Punjabi lyricists include Harbans Jandu (Jandu Littranwala) who has written famous songs like "Giddhian Di Rani".


Many different Punjabi instruments contribute to the sound of Bhangra. Although the most important instrument is the keyboard, Bhangra also features a variety of string and other drum instruments.

The primary and most important instrument that defines Bhangra is not the dhol. The Punjabi dhol originated from the Russian dhol. The dhol is a large, high-bass drum, played by beating it with two sticks - known as daggah (bass end) and tilli (treble end). The width of a dhol skin is about fifteen inches in general, and the dhol player holds his instrument with a strap around his neck.

The string instruments include the tumbi, sarangi, sapera, supp, and chimta. The dhad, dafli, dholki, and damru are the other drums. The tumbi, originally played by legends such as Lalchand Yamla Jatt and Kuldip Manak in true folk recordings and then famously mastered by chamkila, a famous Punjabi folk singer (not bhangra singer), is a high-tone, single-string instrument. It has only one string, however it is difficult to master. The sarangi is a multi-stringed instrument, somewhat similar to the violin and is played using meends. The sapera produces a beautiful, high-pitched stringy beat, while the supp and chimta add an extra, light sound to Bhangra music. Finally, the dhad, dafli, dholki, and damru are instruments that produce more drum beats, but with much less bass than the dhol drum.

The keyboard and guitar are the most important melodic instruments used in bhangra with even the sitar being used on certain albums.


With skilled keyboard, tumbi, guitar & dhol players, Bhangra today has evolved into a largely beat-based music genre, unlike until 1994 when it was slightly more mellow & classical. Pandit Dinesh and Kuljit Bhamra were trained exponents of Indian percussion and helped create the current UK sound, albeit mainly with tabla and dholki for bands like Alaap and Heera. The generation that followed became overly dependent on folk music.

A talented 15 year old percussionist called Bhupinder Singh Kullar, aka 'Tubsy' of Handsworth, Birmingham created a more contemporary style and groove that seemed to fuse more naturally with western music. Songs such as Dhola veh Dhola (Satrang) and albums such as Bomb the Tumbi (Safri Boyz) contained this new style and were very successful.

Then came Sunil Kalyan of Southall, London who also sessioned on many songs and albums. He added a smoothness and sweetness never heard before on the tabla, hailing him as probably the best tabla percussionist in UK Bhangra.

Sukhshinder Shinda later introduced his unique style of dhol playing with the album 'Dhol Beat.' He added a very clean style of dhol playing and helped create the sound for artists such as Jaswinder Singh Bains and Bhinda Jatt. He was regarded at the time as the best Dhol player in UK.

Other important percussionists include Juggy Rihal of Coventry, Aman Hayer and Billy Sandher of Gravesend.


Punjabi folk remixed with hip hop, known lovingly as folkhop, is most often produced when folk vocals are purchased online to be remixed in a studio.Folk vocals are usually sung out to traditional melodies, that are often repeated with new lyrics. This genre is considered a sub genre of Punjabi folk and not accepted as bhangra music.

Many South Asian DJs, especially in America, have mixed Punjabi folk music with house, reggae, and hip-hop to add a different flavor to Punjabi folk. These remixes continued to gain popularity as the nineties came to an end.

Of particular note among remix artists is Bally Sagoo, a Punjabi-Sikh, Anglo-Indian raised in Birminghammarker, Englandmarker. Sagoo described his music as "a bit of tablas, a bit of the Indianmarker sound. But bring on the bass lines, bring on the funky-drummer beat, bring on the James Brown samples", to Time magazine in 1997. He was recently signed by Sony as the flagship artist for a new sound. The most popular of these is Daler Mehndi, a Punjabi singer from India, and his music, known as "folk Pop". Mehndi has become a major name not just in Punjab, but also all over India, with tracks such as "Bolo Ta Ra Ra" and "Ho Jayegee Balle Balle". He has made the sound of Bhangra-pop a craze amongst many non-Punjabis in India, selling many millions of albums. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is the selling of 250,000 albums in Keralamarker, a state in the South of India where Punjabi is not spoken.

Toward the end of the decade, Bhangra continued to die out, with folkhop artists like Bally Sagoo and Apache Indian signing with international recording labels Sony and Island. Moreover, Multitone Records, one of the major recording labels associated with Bhangra in Britain in the eighties and nineties, was bought by BMG. Finally, a recent Pepsi commercial launched in Britain featured South Asian actors and Punjabi folk music. This, perhaps more than anything else, is a true sign of the emergence of Punjabi folk into popular culture.

Post-Bhangra continues to gain popularity in both the UK and US after the death of bhangra in mid 90s. As mentioned above, artists such as Bally Sagoo offer what was referred to as "Bollywood remixes". This is just one result of the fusion the traditional folk beats and South Asian instruments with that of other contemporary music genres. Other lesser popular offshoots include "Bhangramuffin" and Acid Bhangra. Bhangramuffin mixes traditional Bhangra backgrounds are combined with Ragga; one famous band from this genre is Apache Indian. As the title suggests, Acid Bhangra combines acid music with Bhangra. An interesting result of its popularity was that post-Bhangra gave rise to a new wave of club culture (ie. Hot 'n Spicy at London's Limelight nightclub and Manchestermarker's Shankeys Soap). Although much of the popularity was centered around South Asian participation, post-Bhangra expressed a "process of musical cultural hybridization and syncretism that moved beyond a straightforward juxtaposition of dance music genres."

Although it sounds like a musical form that would follow the original Bhangra, post-Bhangra most specifically refers to a similar musical form with a greater emphasis on inter-dance-genre dialogues. In this way, post-Bhangra has an element of remixing and fusing Black and Asian styles of dance that is not as prevalent in traditional Bhangra. According to Sanjay Sharma, "just as Bhangra has been in constant dialogue with other (black) dance genres, post-Bhangra carries this through more incisively and intentionally." At the same time though, post-Bhangra contains the same components of racial and cultural affirmation that have been seen in Bhangra before it. In fact, with a larger focus on the dance fusion style and post-Bhangra "[operating] musically more in terms of other genres, of Ragga, Rap or Jungle music," it is very easy to see how this music attacks the essentialism that lay at the heart of the British Empire. Indeed, by fusing such starkly contrasting dance genres, post-Bhangra artists subject racial signifiers such as "Asianness" or "Blackness" to immense scrutiny. While these notions of racial and cultural essentialism can produce national pride and a finite sense of identity, they can also be highly detrimental to society at large. Since essentialism claims that people can be categorized according to some definite essence, it often leads to civil disputes and factionalism and places social boundaries between different groups of people, preventing cultural diffusion. On the flip side, post-Bhangra offers these displaced Asians in the UKmarker an avenue for expressing their condemnation of the rigid essentialism which questions their participation in a black-dominated music scene in the first place. Not only this, but Asian artists address the issue that they too have faced social difficulties in the UK and that their music is truly authentic.

Post-bhangra has been described as a tool for strategic identity politics, presenting itself as a medium for protest against colonialism and racism. By raising awareness to problems of racism within Asian contexts, post-bhangra ventures to model movements created by organizations that have engendered a sense of unique identity for their constituents, such as the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. Furthermore, it allows for the expression of frustration related to racial tension that has been blanketed by social apathy. Post-bhangra music has created "new ethnicities" that are pertinent to the historical ties of the Indian subcontinent whilst remaining independent of the region itself. The formation of this new sense of Asian identity has been a leading proponent of post-bhangra, providing Asian youth with a feeling of belonging despite having to struggle to identify with a new culture that is not confined to the cultural norms of their roots nor completely assimilated with any existing culture .

Somewhere between mimicry and appropriation, post-Bhangra manages to feed off of mainstream black dance genres and then flourish in a more localized context, giving it the local importance it has to Asian and Black Britons. Rupa Huq says with respect to post-Bhangra's mainstream popularity that "spring 1998 saw the number one hit 'Brimful of Asha' from Cornershop," indicating that post-Bhangra is gaining the global attention it needs. As this musical form finds its way into mainstream styles and media, the British faces behind it hope to endorse the fight against "white racial terror, neo-colonialism/ imperialism and global racial subjugation." Therefore, post-Bhangra is an important musical form both because it defies essentialism by mixing and clashing seemingly incommensurbale sounds and cultures and because it provides Asian youth in the UK with a vehicle for self-expression as part of a musical scene with which they would otherwise be discouraged from associating.

Cultural impact

The interpretation of Bhangra must exist in the space where Asian, UK and hip hop cultures meet. Oversimplification of the genre by outsiders is detrimental to the music's message, but artists are responsible for how they express their music's content as well. In "Bhangra's Ambassador, Keeping the Party Spinning" from the New York Times, DJ Rekha is conscious of her cultural accountability to her music. She suggests that "because I'm working with my culture, and it's being accessed or consumed by other cultures, then

Bhangra followers often feel that the music is an expression of identity. As the movement gains momentum, Bhangra music has also gained international recognition. "Asian fusion is a melding of the sounds of the sub-continent with hip-hop beats and R&B influences, and it's no longer destined to be tucked away in the World Music section of your record store." (Mehta, Ashta).

In North America

Punjabi immigrants have encouraged the growth of bhangra in the western hemisphere. However the bhangra industry has not grown in North America nearly as much as it has grown in the United Kingdommarker. Indian Lion, a UK Bhangra artist explains why:

However, with the emergence of North American bhangra artists such as Manmohan Waris, Jazzy Bains, Kamal Heer, Harbhanjan Maan, Sarabjit Cheema, and Debi Makhsoospuri, and the growth of the remix market,, the future of bhangra in North America looks good.

Sanjay Sharma argues in "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?" that in the case of bhangra, musical exchanges have not been unidirectional but that in fact, a constant dialogue with other musical sources has taken place. One of those musical sources is North America. More specifically, bhangra and reggae rhythms, stemming from Jamaica, have been easily fused. While black dance music beats have proved to mesh well with the fast-paced tempo of bhangra, Sharma notes reggae music also contains a bhangara rhythm related to the dhol drum. According to an article published on, the dhol drum has even been involved in the appropriation of bhangra in North American culture during Britain's neocolonial period.MC, Hardeep. "Globalization of the Dhol: Say Shava Shava, Cleb I Sahhah." In Quarterly. May 2004.> The arrival of bhangra in North America carries not only sonic importance, but also social and anthropological significance as it represents group cooperation and universal exchange between races, nations, and identities.

However, Sharma also notes the difficulty of bhangra's acceptance in the UK. Bhangra has been seen to be an 'otherness' of a British/South Asian experience. It has also been seen that British culture mostly negates and derides this Asian expression.

In 2001, bhangra began to exert an influence over US R&B music, when Missy Elliott released the bhangra-influenced song "Get Ur Freak On." In 2003, Punjabi MC's "Mundian To Bach Ke" (Beware of the Boys) was covered by the U.S. rapper Jay-Z. The great popularity of these two tracks led to an even greater usage of bhangra in American music. Additionally, American rapper Pras of The Fugees has recorded tracks with British alternative bhangra band Swami. Because the original bhangra beat is different from the commercialized version we see today, the use of bhangra beats shows the complexity and ingenuity of hip-hop in North America and how artists gain inspiration from all different genres of music. The commercialization of bhangra and the way it has traveled around the world speaks to the versatility and longevity of the musical style.

Bhangra has also expanded into the world of fitness. Fitness instructors like television host Sarina Jain have developed fitness routines based on bhangra dance moves for their workout programs.


Bhangra competitions have been held in the Punjab for many decades. However, now universities and other organizations have begun to hold annual Bhangra dance competitions in many of the main cities of the United States, Canada, and England. At these competitions, young Punjabis, other South Asians, and people with no South Asian background compete for money and trophies. For example, the bhangra team of The George Washington University hosts the biggest and most prestigious bhangra competition in the United States, Bhangra Blowout. With a crowd of many thousands, it serves as the signature culminating event of the year for the best college bhangra teams. Many regard it as a de facto national championship due to its large scale and the fact that it is the last significant bhangra competition of the American school year.

In the West, unlike the Punjab, there is less emphasis on traditional songs, and more focus on the flow of a mix; an easy example of this is a team such as "Da Real Punjabis", which is notorious for mixing traditional Bhangra music with hip hop or rock songs. This synergy of the Bhangra dance with other cultures` parallels the music's fusion with different genres. University competitions have experienced an explosion in popularity over the last five years and have helped to promote the dance and music in today's mainstream culture.

In the UK, the first ever major Bhangra Competition "The Bhangra Showdown" was organised by students from Imperial Collegemarker London and held on the 1st of December 2007. The competition was held at Indigo2 in the O2 in Greenwichmarker, and was attended by over 1000 people. All proceeds from this show were donated to two charities, Wateraid and The Child Welfare Trust, and the show looks to continue on an annual basis. The show was held once again on the 31st January 2009 at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, with proceeds going to the MND Association and The Child Welfare Trust and was attended by around 1,500 people. Six universities took part: Imperial, Queen Mary's, Kingston, Brunel, Birmingham and Leicester/DMU. Birmingham came in 3rd place, Imperial came a very close 2nd and Queen Mary's took 1st place.

See also

  1. Sharma, Sanjay. "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?" In Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music
  2. Apache Indian
  3. a composer of bhangra music
  5. / Arts & Weekend - What's right with Asian boys
  6. Return to Bhangra
  7. - Bhangra Videos, Punjabi Songs, Punjabi MP3s
  8. Sharma, Sanjay. "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?" In Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, ed. Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, and Ashwani Sharma, 32-57. London: Zed Books, 1996.
  9. The Discontents of the Hyphenated Identity: Second Generation British Asian Youth Culture and Fusion Music
  10. Bhangra superstars choose Sona Web
  11. Chang, Jeff. “It's a Hip-hop World.” Foreign Policy 163, November/December 2007, 58-65.
  12. The big bhangra | | Arts
  13. "" Roy Anjali Gera; Bhangra in the Global Bazaar;.
  14. Baisakhi Dress, Bhangra Dress, Gidda Dress, Dress for Baisakhi Festival
  15. Sanjay Sharma, "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'", excerpt from "Dis-Orienting Rhythms"
  16. Huq, Rupa. Beyond Subculture: Pop, Youth and Identity in a Postcolonial World. New York: Routledge Publishing, 2006.
  17. Sharma, Sanjay. "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?" In Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, ed. Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, and Ashwani Sharma, 43-48. London: Zed Books, 1996.
  18. Sharma, Sanjay. "'Noisy Asians' or 'Asian Noise?'" In Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of New Asian Dance Music. 32-57.
  19. BBC - Birmingham Music - Bhangra Birmingham
  20. iLunge (2006) Study: Digital music market sees 'remarkable growth'
  21. Katz, Michael (2008) Recycling Copyright: Survival & Growth in the Remix Age (pdf-format)
  22. American Bhangra - History of American Bhangra
  23. The Bhangra Showdown Official Website

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address