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Bhangra

 
Bhangra is the favourite dance of the Punjabi villager. It is a dance of stamina in sheer force and tempo. This ancient dance is associated with the ripening of the harvest. The origin of this is associated with fertility rites.

 This dance is performed on Baisakhi when harvesting is over and fairs are held all over the Punjab. It can also be performed without any let or hindrance at any other social occasion of importance. Bhangra dance

No particular form of dress is indicated for Bhangra. For maintaining unifromity, the dancers wear shirts with loose sleeves, stiff-starched long-cloth tahmats (loose loin cloth reaching up to the ankles) and bright black, red, green or yellow waist-coasts. A bright strip over the turban is often regarded as a must. Tiny bells are sometimes tied over the ankles. 

Bhangra is danced to the accompaniment of dhol and rhythmic clapping. The drummer stands at the centre and the dancers stand in a circle around him. At the beat of the drum, they proceed first with a slow movement of the feet then a rhythmic wriggling of the body and after the shaking of the shoulders they start strutting in rhythm. The tempo increases as the beat of the drum becomes more and more exciting. The physical movements in twist and turn take the drumming and dance to a fine climax. The drummer and the dancers all reaching a stage of swinging ecstasy where sound and movements merge into each other. The flow of the rhythm is interspersed with chants of "Hoy, Hoy" and "Balle, Balle" by the dancers. There are short pauses in between. At each pause when the drumming ceases one of the dancers comes forward, puts one hand on his ear lifts the other and sings a Boli. As soon as he comes to the end of it, dancing is resumed. The dancers must keep the rhythm and increase or decrease the tempo in accordance with the beat of the drum. Sometimes young men divide themselves competitively into pairs, each pair performing in its turn while the rest remain in a Bhangra dancecircle. The gestures are full of vigour that they are difficult to sustain over long periods. So when a pair exhausts itself, it goes back to the ring and another pair comes forward to take its places. This may go on for hours. 

With the passage of time Bhangra, is losing its gruffness and its movements are tending to become more and more sophisticated. The Bhangra which is danced on Republic Day and in the films is quite different from the one danced in villages by the unsophisticated people.


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