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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bhangra swag

People around the world are finding hope and relief in the uniquely Punjabi expression of celebration

By: Editorial |
Updated: March 5, 2021 9:05:49 am
Uttarakhand flash flood, Chamoli district, Uttarakhand disaster, mountain ecosystem, Hydel Power Project, Indian express newsWith a timeline full of bhangra videos, Pandher seems to now be an unofficial global ambassador of that uniquely Punjabi expression of exuberance and celebration.

Occasionally, the internet is an uplifting place. Like when you come across a video of a man, fresh from receiving his COVID-19 jab, breaking into dance in an icy, desolate landscape because that is how he best expresses his happiness and relief. Gurdeep Pandher, a dance choreographer from Canada’s sparsely-populated province of Yukon, shared a video of himself doing the bhangra with the caption, “I went to a frozen lake to dance Bhangra on it for joy, hope and positivity…”

With a timeline full of bhangra videos, Pandher seems to now be an unofficial global ambassador of that uniquely Punjabi expression of exuberance and celebration. But he’s not the only one who has lit up mostly bleak social media timelines with this dance. As a folk art form, bhangra has a long history; its re-incarnation as a near-universal disseminator of joy, though, dates from 2020, perhaps, when the world went into lockdown because of a pandemic and people found relief in moving to the beats of Punjabi songs in the limited physical space that was now available to them. The evidence is in the slew of videos shared on social media in which you see people from around the world dancing to Mundian To Bach Ke by Punjabi MC, for instance, and Navv Inder’s Wakhra Swag. One of the most viral of these videos showcases the bhangra moves of a Canadian group called Basement Gang to a mashup of Wakhra Swag and Teach Me How to Dougie by American hip hop group Cali Swag District.

Fred Astaire once exhorted dancers to “do it big, do it right and do it with style”. The amateur dancers doing bhangra in TikTok and Instagram videos may not always follow his advice, but they certainly dance with all their heart. And that is enough.

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