Sikh Culture . Bhangra & Sikhi

Generosity of Harjinder Singh, UK

Is There a Connection ?

Over the last few years, Bhangra music has become extremely popular in the Western World, so much so that in the last few weeks, Bhangra Music has entered the British charts for the first time ever, showing that Bhangra music is now enjoyed not only by the Punjabi folks, but by the Western audience as well. Equally in recent years there has been debate as to the link between Bhangra and Sikhi - Is Bhangra promoted by Sikhi - if not where is the link ?

Where did Bhangra come from ?

It is believed that Bhangra existed in some form or another in the 14th/15th century when farmers would bring home the grain and on those occasions to celebrate the months of hard work, they would perform Bhangra - dancing to drum beats and singing in some cases. This is known today as traditional Bhangra. as opposed to the westernised version which is also classed as Bhangra.

It was probably even normal for there to be similar dancing and singing on weddings and other joyous occasions. But there is no evidence in Sikh history to suggest that the Gurus had ever promoted it or that it had even ever been performed in their presence.  In those days, joyous occasions were marked by Sikhs - by the reading of shabads and singing of shabads and also by the distribution of gifts and food to the poor and needy. In Gurudwaras today, occasions are still celebrated as such today, Bhangra dancing and singing is not acceptable in a Sikh Gurudwara.

Where has Bhangra, as we know it today originated from?

Traditional Bhangra can still be seen today, there are countless groups in the Western world who still perform traditional Bhangra - IE dancing to drum beats and singing 'traditional' songs. But there is also a form of Bhangra which has deviated slightly from the original form and is influenced by the Western world, this is only natural and a sign of the changing times. No doubt Western Bhangra Music - which is still in it's early days - will see more changes, some radical, others not.

What does Sikhi Say about Bhangra ?

Sikhi does not promote Bhangra and therefore it is not correct to believe that Bhangra is a Sikhi thing Yes it is Punjabi - and because the majority of Sikhs are Punjabi - Bhangra seems to have been classed as a Sikh institution over the years. Without entering into the argument as to whether Bhangra should be performed on Sikh weddings and whether a Sikh is a bad Sikh if he or she listens to Bhangra, this page only seeks to suggest that Bhangra is not a Sikh Institution, But a Punjabi one.


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