What is Bhangra?
Bhangra is fusion of music and dance which originates from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. In its earliest form it was a celebratory folk dance which welcomed the coming of spring, or Vaisakhi, as it is known.
Now Bhangra has evolved and in the past 30 years it has become integrated into popular Asian culture after being mixed with hip hop, house and reggae styles of music. Bhangra has come a long way from its humble beginnings in India but now it is recognised and enjoyed the world over.
The influence of Bhangra can be seen clearly in the world of Bollywood with Bhangra artists being used to supply the soundtracks to some of the biggest movies from this industry. There’s a lively Bhangra music scene alive and kicking in the U.K. with some of the biggest DJ’s and singers performing across the country every year. Some universities and organisation have even started holding Bhangra dance competitions such is the popularity of the genre.
However Bhangra is more than just a musical genre. Asian people see it as an expression of their culture and identity and a way of showcasing all that is unique about them. Bhangra has even begun to find its way into R&B music as mainstream artists pick up on the potential of Bhangra to add an alternative spin to a record. Bhangra influences can be heard in Missy Elliott’s track “Get Your Freak On” and from music by the rapper Jay Z and The Fugees.
Bhangra has adapted and changed with the times but at its core remains a sense of cultural identity and tradition.