We just returned from a week-long vacation in Vancouver with friends and are wishing we could have brought that city’s multi-cultural ethos home with us. Of course the L.A. area where we live is one of the true melting pots in the U.S., but did you know Vancouver’s Public Library (Main Branch) has signs in 6 languages – including Punjabi!
Yes, we took in the beautiful vistas and ate wonderful food – and in between it all there was bhangra. We heard it in restaurants, cabs, music stores and on the Punjabi TV channel in our hotel room. The Museum of Vancouver even had a groundbreaking Bhangra.me exhibit – an amazing display of photographs, archival video and of course music and dance that tells a universal story of the South Asian diaspora. (If you’re in the area, it runs until October 23 – don’t miss it!)
Of course there is more to Punjabi music and dance than bhangra – but it’s an element of Punjabi culture that my kids love. One CD is enough liven-up a boring afternoon for hours! No surprise then that when we were in Vancouver, it was the music that carried our days and our memories. So this month “bha” is for “bhangra.”
What started as a folk dance to celebrate the harvest is now a global phenomenon. Check out this hilarious video from dance group Signature on Britain’s Got Talent (it’s NOT just Billy Jean, trust me):
There are even specialized bhangra classes for toddlers and beyond (including NamasteKidz in Los Angeles and NYC Bhangra in NY/NJ ). And these little kids from the UK are simply adorable with their bhangra moves (click on image to play):
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