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About Indian Dance: Masala Bhangra

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

About Indian Dance: Masala Bhangra

By Amira Hamzar

© Amira Hamzar 2020

Originally performed by men in the 14th century, Masala Bhangra is an exuberant folk dance from the northern region of India, called Punjab, and represents the culture of the Punjabi people.

Originally rooted in the harvest celebration of Baisakhi, Masala Bhangra is enjoyed today during many different types of cultural and social celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and New Year parties.

While men had Masala Bhangra, women had their own version of folk dance called Giddha, which centered around Boliyan, or lyrics, and was acted out through the dance.

“Masala” literally means “mixture”, usually referring to mixing spices together for cooking. Bhangra began as a blending of Yoga, martial arts, music and dance from different parts of the Punjab religion. Gatka, a Sikh martial art utilizes swords, sticks and daggers. You can often see props like sticks and acrobatics in Bhangra. The term “Bhangra” has gradually evolved and today refers to many different sub-classes of dance and music.

Known as the “Hip-Hop of India”, the body movements of Bhangra concentrate on the shoulders, arms, and legs with a vibrant bouncing technique. Today, the “mixture” or “blending” continues, as many other musical and dance styles are integrated into traditional Bhangra.

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