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Born to dance

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Navneet Navneet | 16:03 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2012

In India dance forms an integral part of our culture. The best example would be our cinema, also famously known as 'Bollywood'. Our movies are just so inseparable from songs and dance that for a movie to be a hit, its music has to rock the charts.

To be even more specific I am from North Western part of India - Punjab (the land of five rivers). Though Punjabi's are martial race and also die hard foodies but our lives would be incomplete without dance, our expression for happiness.

Our folk dance is called 'Bhangra'. Colorful dresses, beautifully tied turbans, bright faces, broad smiles, impulsive beats of the drums, energetic and fierce moves of the dancers
(both men and women alike) are just a few words to describe our dance. It originated as the celebration to mark the end of harvest season. The vigor and zeal in the dance states the pride of belonging to the land and abundance of the crop.


The bhangra gained popularity with the migration of the Punjabi diaspora to the West. The bhangra music has topped the UK charts several times. It has amassed its international appeal mostly from the fusion with hip-hop and pop music. Even America has seen many bhangra performers impressing the judges of the popular show 'America's Got Talent'.

Punjabi weddings like any other Indian weddings start 3-4 days in advance but the most awaited function is the dance night or as they say the cocktail party where there are 3D's: drinks, DJ and dance. The whole family and friends dance on the beats of bhangra music and celebrations continue till the wee hours of the morning.

Once a colleague from Southern state of India who happened to attend a Punjabi wedding asked "Though I enjoyed 'balle balle' (common expression of joy used in Punjabi songs) but isn't it amusing that people from groom side danced for half an hour outside the main entrance before entering the banquet hall." I just laughed and answered, "That's the way we are - born to dance. And it's really easy, when you are delighted or in a festive mood just put your hands up in the air and move them up 'n' down. Ha Ha!!!! That's the easiest move in bhangra".



  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Navneet,
    Again a wonderful post! Well you and I certainly have a lot in common.
    I am also from Punjab (Bathinda). I just love dance especially Bollywood music. I am not very good in bhangra but I love to dance on punjabi songs, they are so energetic. I danced for 5 hours (on lady sangeet) i.e 2 days before my wedding. For me Dj is the best part in a wedding, lol.


  • Comment number 2.

    Hello Navneet
    Allow me to congratulate on your recently posting on Born to dance .
    In India dance is our traditional art .Baradha nattiam dance , like bangra dance in Punjab ,is famous in Tamilnadu .We can see closely the traditional beliefs ,culture, and practices of religion through Baradha nattiam dance .Based on Baradha nattiam dance , so many Tamil movies had been huge boxoffice success .Dhillana mohanambal, kadhal oviam, konjum salangai, and salangaioli movies are the Baradha nattiam dance based stories .These movies broken the record in collection .
    Manoharan from India.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi namrta....
    Gud to know that u r frm bhatinda....
    Yeah exactly same in my case .... Mee too danced whole night on my ladies sangeet....
    Thats the most awaited part of any wedding....

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi manoharan ...
    I have been to chennai .... And have stayed at kumbakonam for a around 2 mths....
    Moreover i have learnt bharatnatyam during school days....i may not be well versed in it but yes i have performed bharat natyam on stage.....if i love the energy and free spirit of bhangra then i would say i also luv the facial and hand expressions in bharatnatyam....

  • Comment number 5.

    hi navneet...
    I'm very happy that you write about dance in India though I'm from Algeria I love so much bollywood movies and their dance,my dad deals with indian people in dubai because he is busseniss men so we love them.In Algeria,our weedings we put Idian songs and all family and friende dance

  • Comment number 6.

    Your post is very interesting. I'm delighted by Bolyhood films. As you descrided, everyone dances with colourful dresses. They are really energetic without tired and always smiles on their faces. All dances are very quickly. In my country-Vietnam, people perform slow dances. This comes from our way of life. According to our researchers, we are agricultural residents who live in two deltas such as Cuu long Delta and Song Hong Delta. They are the places where have flat terrains. So, we have a habit of going barefoot, like a gentle live. I hope I have a chance to take part in your parties and perform your traditional dances.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Navneet,

    It's unbelievable... I ashamed but I didn't know this dance... Thank you for this post and thanks to BBC for this opportunity... It's a great thing to know foreign culture....

    As a great singer said some years ago when sang "Give peace a chance", I think that the dance is one of the best way to have peace in the world...to aggregate, to join togheter... what do you think about it?

    This is my firt post on BBC....

    Good lucky


  • Comment number 8.

    Hello again Navneet,

    Thank you so much for your fascinating post!

    It is interesting to compare different cultures from the point of expression style of their emotion.

    For example, in our Japanese culture, broadly expressing one's emotion is not welcomed and even though when we are extremly happy, we do not have any paticular way to express it. Majority of Japanese people just keep that happiest feeing only in their own mind. So different from your people!

    But I realize to share happy feeling with others through dancing makes the company including you much more happier! Peace and happiness to all!

    Good luck to your contribution!

    Sayaka from Kyoto, Japan.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is nice city and beautiful >>

  • Comment number 10.

    After long , I am here . I have read an nice article . So super

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Navneet,
    Wonderful article!
    I'm from South India, where Bharata Natyam is the main form of dance.
    I have watched Bhangras only in movies and as you have said I know only
    "Balle, Balle" .
    I feel there is lots of energy while dancing bhangra and I think for my work out I can learn this and enjoy life :-)

  • Comment number 12.

    well it's a tremendous post since we're discovering the culture of India.Actually when I used to see Indian film it's music and dance was to enchant me , really it was so amazing the beats are going louder n louder n the dance became speedier .

  • Comment number 13.

    Perfect description Navneet. Nothing better than "Bhangra". A complete expression of onez happiness, zeal, enthusiasm, joy...

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh I like dance. Punjabi dance and music can rock the dance floor. In my family party I enjoy myself by dancing especially with Bollywood music. I was very shy to dance but suddenly I don't know how I am enjoying with dance I think its because of family audience and off course for Indian music.

  • Comment number 15.

    it was superb one....really the topic was great one " born to dance". i have seen lots of Bollywood films and Punjabi people craze for dance. I love to listen the song (dhulnaaa by diler mahandi) and Singh is king the turban on their heads , happy, love to dance.....!!!! good job Nanvet


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