Was in Islamabad for a few days. Which is always nice, Islamabad is great in small doses of shady trees, the rare curve of Ataturk Avenue, watching the city glitter at Pir Suhawa at night and wonder what ghosts flit in the darkened trees below…but come the last stretch of motorway on the way back, the one where Sheikupura and Gujrat places begin and the traffic quadruples into shiny paan-paan buses and self-important Pajeros- and you’re so pleased to be back home you want to do a little bhangra.

Speaking of which. I did a little poking around and it turns out that the bhangra originates in Punjab (our part and the Indian part), and can be dated back to the 1400s where it was originally performed as part of a celebration of a good harvest and also to welcome the new year during Baisakhi. Another version is that the word ‘bhangra’ orignates from ‘bhang’, or marijuana, and that Punjabis were fond of mixing up a raita (yogurt with spices and vegetables sometimes) with a punch, downing it and then basically leaping around to ‘release energy’. Bhangra’s also been used as a form of military training, apparently, gets one’s troops all fired up!

Indian Punjabis- who are extremely proud of their Punjabi culture, unlike a lot of Punjabis on this side of the border- consider the bhangra an essential identifier, the best way to show one’s joy. If you’re happy and you know it, shake your shoulders to some dhol! A lot of them- from what I read- object to having bhangra music ‘adulterated’ by DJs and fusion music, which was interesting. Some of htem haven’t a problem with it, some of them think it’s a mongrelization of a pure art from. But like one person said, “rahi gal bhangre di bhangra har punjabi di jaan hai eh pore punjab di shaan hai.bhangra sadi viraasat hai.” ‘Nuff said.

6 Comments so far

  1. neha (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 4:42 pm

    Btw, while I understand the Punjabi, would be wonderful if you could put a translation in brackets!

  2. Darwaish (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    somethings shouldn’t be translated. they loose their meaning and charm when translated and same is the case with the last line :> ..

    and i agree, for some odd reason we, in west punjab, are not proud of our language, culture. dunno why

  3. Mina (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 6:06 pm

    i agree with you darwaish but we’ve got international readers (hopefully lol) so here goes:

    ‘as far as bhangra is concerned, bhangra is the life of every punjabi and the pride of all of punjab. bhangra is our heritage’

    and it’s a shame really, the way we don’t speak punjabi or are even lukewarm about punjabi traditions…i’m not punjabi but we live here so we should..i visited amritsar last year and uff! they’re SO proud of being punjabi it’s amazing, even though we got all the good stuff at partition.

  4. Neha (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 11:33 pm


    I understand that idioms and phrases lose their charm, but that is no cause to not translate them at all. After all .. even if meanings are lost in translations.. intentions are not..


    Isn’t that the real bridge to cross?

  5. Darwaish (unregistered) on August 6th, 2005 @ 12:20 am

    i agree with both of you … n i take my words back regarding translation :o>

    .. lol @ international audience.. kon hai.. kidher hai? kitne hein :D

  6. Jangli Jagga (unregistered) on August 6th, 2005 @ 3:08 am

    yes, we somehow disown our culture. it’s a general attitude in Pakistan, not only in punjab. point: if you disown something, you can never be proud of it. off the topic, my ancestors roots belong to Jalandhar in eastern punjab and I wish to visit the city someday.

    I reckon language plays an important role in promoting a culture. though its the biggest regional language here we don’t even have its own script. and somehow punjabi is perceived as a ‘bad language’ or somewhat harsh (comparing with others regional languages like saraiki or even sindhi). this might be a morbid excuse, but we have to come out of our self-imposed-inferiority-complex. like the attitude ‘if you are educated, speak urdu if not english’.

    and welcome to international audience! :P at last we have someone!

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.