Bhangra is one of the most popular folk dance forms of the Punjab region located close to the India and Pakistan Border. Several historical evidences claim the origin of Bhangra to as far back as 300 BC. However, the dance form has attained new heights of glory in the post-Independence era. The term ‘Bhangra’ now refers to many variants of Punjabi music and dance that are performed on different occasions.

The Origin of Bhangra

Many historians are of the opinion that the dance originated during the time when Alexander invaded India. However, there are few evidences to guarantee its origin to more than 500 years ago. In 14th and 15th century, the farmers in the area sang traditional songs and danced to keep them entertained as they toiled all day long in the fields. With the passage of time, this became a tradition and an important part of the annual harvest festival, Baisakhi. Baisakhi is celebrated every year on April 13 to welcome the new crops and pray for a great season. The celebration symbolizes the happiness of the farmers at the sight of their new crop. The dance has made its way to all the classes of society, and has now also become a part of other ceremonies like weddings, mundans and birthdays. It is performed only by men.

History of Bhangra Dance

Bhangra is one of the most energetic and zealous dance of the Punjabis. It is believed that this form of music and dance originated in Punjab. Many of the Bhangra songs reflect upon the history of their state, their culture and tumultuous past of Punjab. While Bhangra had its origins in the farmers’ fields, it has now evolved into a choreographed dance form that is performed in parties, festivals and important events as well. In Western nations, Bhangra enjoys fusion with international dance and music forms like house, reggae and hip-hop. An insight into the origins and traditions of Bhangra helps one have a better understanding of the unique dance form.

Bhangra Costume

The traditional costume of the Bhangra performance is a lungi and a kurta. The Lungi is a Sarong type garment that is wrapped in several layers around the man’s waist. The Kurta forms the top wear which is long and colourful shirt. In addition to this, the Bhugaris or turbans are also an essential part of the complete dress.

The women performers don the traditional dress of Punjabi women, a Salwar Kameez. This is a combination of a fitted shirt along with baggy pants, worn in vibrant and often contrasting shades. The attire is completed with the ‘Duppatta’, a long and embroidered rectangular scarf. The Duppatta can be worn over the head or shoulders.

Bhangra Music And Lyrics

Bhangra lyrics are always in the Punjabi language. The word selection mostly involves social issues and evils. Love, marriage, relationships, alcohol and dancing are the common subjects. Another popular subject of the Bhangra songs is the tales of the brave men and Punjabi heroes. The songs are often dedicated to Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh.

To celebrate joyous occasions, fun lyrics about beautiful women, their eye-catching attire, and the long ‘Paranda’ and dancing and singing in the green fields of Punjab are chosen. The rich culture and traditions of Punjabis are reflected in Bhangra lyrics. A characteristic feature of the songs is their energetic and loud voices along with addition of random phrases like ‘Oye Shava’, ‘Balle Balle and ‘Haddipa’.

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