The birthplace of Bhangra, the Punjab is a region extending over part of Northern India and Northeastern Pakistan. Translated, the name “Punjab” means the “Land of Five Rivers.” The people of the Punjab are called Punjabis and they speak a language called Punjabi. The three main religions in the area are Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The region has been invaded and ruled by many different empires and races, including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Muslims, and Mongols. Around the time of the 15th Century, Guru Nanak Dev founded the Sikh religion, which quickly
came to prominence in the region. The 19th Century saw the beginning of British rule, which led to the emergence of several heroic freedom fighters, the subject of many Bhangra songs. Finally, the Punjab was split between Pakistan and India at the end of British rule in 1947. This partitioning resulted in a large migration of Punjabis into the United Kingdom, which eventually led to the emergence of Bhangra in Western clubs and dancehalls.
Bhangra is a lively form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region in Southeast Asia. As many Bhangra lyrics reflect the long and often tumultuous history of the Punjab, knowledge of Punjabi history offers important insights into the meaning of
the music. While Bhangra began as a part of harvest festival celebrations, it eventually became a part of such diverse occasions as weddings and New Year celebrations. Moreover, during the last thirty years, Bhangra has enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide, both in traditional form and as a fusion with genres such as hip-hop, house, and reggae. As Bhangra continues to move into mainstream culture, an understanding of its history and tradition helps to appreciate it.
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