Hardeep Singh Sahota Delves into the History of British Bhangra and Invents Bhangra Day
Where Britain has been celebrated for providing the world with iconic rock acts such as The Beatles and the Rolling Stones we have never really been recognised for our contribution to Bhangra history.
With a mission to change this Hardeep Singh Sahota,University of Huddersfield researcher, delved into the subject of Bhangra’s origins, an area that has not had a great deal of historic focus.
He said: “Very little academic research has been done into the area so I saw a challenge with it.
“Bhangra was quite a revolution not just in big cities around England but also in Huddersfield.”
Wanting to prove the connection between early Bhangra and Huddersfield he got his teeth stuck into his project, collecting oral accounts from Huddersfield residents.
It was through this research that he discovered Huddersfield was the birthplace of one of the oldest Sikh cultural and Bhangra groups in the country, who blessed the scene in 1968.
Hardeep said: “It was amazing to unearth photos and archives and talk to some of the members.
“Some young people got together to create the group and performed at Huddersfield and Leeds town halls.
“It was just one of the interesting aspects I discovered as I explored how Bhangra used to be performed and how it has evolved.
“Growing up I didn’t even know about this group or these stories so its nice to be able to share them through the Bhangra renaissance project.”
Bhangra originated in Punjab and was first performed by farmers when celebrating the harvest cycle.
Bhangra then travelled to England amidst the first wave of Indian immigration, becoming very popular amongst Huddersfield Sikhs.
Proving the eternal relevance of Bhangra Hardeep and his team are actually launching a national Bhangra Day that will ensure the nation is informed of the greatness of Bhangra.
He said: “Bhangra has always been popular but we have seen a resurgence.
“It used to be performed with a doll-drummer in the middle and dancers moving around him with ankle bells on- they’re some of these nuances that have vanished over time and been replaced with others.
“We get people from all cultures coming to learn the dance at the university, there’s a real shared heritage between communities through it.
“And through World Bhangra Day we got ambassadors for the dance from around the world but also had a live link with school children in New Mexico, and would love to see people dancing Bhangra together across the world.”
He now hopes to begin a PHD and continue the project as well as creating documentaries.
Also, you can now buy Hardeep’s book Bhangra: Mystics, Music and Migration that has been coined a ‘cultural revolution’.