Friday 15 May 2015
Karun Chhokar and Manveer Sokhi, Presidents of the QMUL Bhangra Society, talk to us about the history of Bhangra and the recent success of their dance team ‘LPD-Lishkareh Punjab Deh.’
What are the aims of the Bhangra society?
The QMUL Bhangra Society aims to promote Punjabi culture and teach other students the history behind Bhangra as well as learning the different dance routines. The society was only created this academic year, however QMUL have had a Bhangra dance group for a number of years. The society currently has between 30 and 40 members.
Can you explain some of the history of Bhangra?
Bhangra was initially used as a celebratory folk dance in the Punjab region of India which heralded the coming of spring, or Vaisakhi. The music incorporates a strong rhythm from a dohl drum and usually some other percussion, such as the tabla which is a pair of small drums and the dholak which is a hand-drum often slung over the shoulder.
Modern Bhangra music is very much a mixture of traditional Punjabi sounds and Western influences, such as electronic music. This has resulted in a hybrid genre of dance and music which incorporates many different styles and traditions.
The brightly coloured costumes we wear are referred to as Vardis and we import them from India. The vibrant colours represent what Bhangra and the Punjabi culture is all about.
Why would you encourage other students to join your society? Do they have to have any knowledge of dance?
Becoming a member of the Bhangra Society is a great way to meet new people, de-stress from your studies and get fit. When you join, you don’t just become a part of the team at Lishkareh Punjab Deh (LPD), you become a part of a family. Anyone and everyone can join the society, no matter what your background is and no prior knowledge of Bhangra is needed.
How often do you meet and where?
We rehearse four times a week for approximately five hours. We use the QMotion dance studio on a Sunday, and during the week we use available classrooms at university.
Can you tell us about any past competition successes?
LPD achieved first place in the Bhangra Showdown in 2009 and 2012. This was a national university competition with some talented Bhangra dance teams to compete against. We are also taking part in a number of competitions over the summer – you can keep up to date on our social media pages (see below).
As Presidents of the society what do you most enjoy about your society?
Having the opportunity to pass on our knowledge of Bhangra so other students can grasp the culture and continue the LPD legacy. Promoting the friendly values of our society to anyone interested in Bhangra, regardless of their dance experience of background, has been a pleasure.
Where should students look if they want to learn more about your society?