Bhangra is believed to have originated in Western Punjab (in today’s Pakistan) as a rural male dance performed to the rhythm of the dhol, a large double-headed barrel drum, to celebrate the spring harvest. Soon after Indian Partition in 1947 and following the social upheaval that accompanied it, a dance called bhangra became associated with the new Indian Punjab’s cultural identity. This phenomenon was encouraged and supported from the outset by the local administration and can be attributed to two main factors. On the one hand, from the first half of the 1950s, the image of bhangra as a symbol of Punjabi identity was spread outside Punjab by teams of bhangra dancers featured in national and international events (such as the Republic Day Parade in Delhi) and in Bollywood movies.1 On the other hand, what cemented this association among Punjabis and marked the institutionalisation of bhangra was the participation of dance teams in inter-college and inter-university youth festivals and competitions, which became more and more common from the 1960s, with the foundation of Punjab’s first higher education institutions. To this day, schools and colleges are the places where young Punjabis learn to dance bhangra.
Leante, L. (2009). Urban Myth: bhangra and the dhol craze in the UK. In B. Clausen, U. Hemetek, & E. Saether (Eds.), Music in motion : diversity and dialogue in Europe (191-207). Transcript Verlag