Part of bhangra’s ability to enchant audiences worldwide can be attributed to its unique and vibrant costuming. I’ve always been captivated by the splendid adornments and rich, bright colours of bhangra dress, which perfectly capture the spirit and zest for life of Punjab culture.
Traditional male bhangra uniforms are elaborate and very beautifully detailed. Male dancers wear a kurta, a loose, collarless, tunic-length shirt. As well, they wear a lungi or chadar, a long, loose loincloth that is tied around the dancer’s waist, acting as a skirt, and a jugi, a buttonless waistcoast. As headwear, male dancers wear an intricately tied pag or turban, which is tied differently from the traditional Sikh turban. It is not ready-made and has to be tied skillfully before each show. The pag is further embellished with a fan-shaped turla, which can either be created from a heavily starched end of the pag or separately attached. The pag is very important in Punjab culture, as it is a sign of pride and honour. See a demonstration of pag tying below:
Women’s Gidda uniforms are similar to traditional Punjab dress, except that they are more brightly coloured. Jewelry is also more heavily featured. Female dancers wear a salwaar kameez, a combination of baggy pants and a loose tunic, respectively, often in contrasting colours. The dupatta or chunni is a long, embroidered scarf draped over the neck and shoulders. Gidda jewelry consists of jhumkas (earrings), bangles, nath (a nose ring), necklaces, and a tikka (forehead jewelry). Female dancers wear a paranda woven into their braids, which is a long, fancy tassel often wrapped with golden gotta or lace.
I’m excited to witness all of the decked-out dancers that will be performing at the City of Bhangra Festival. They are sure to stun and draw us all into the fantastic spectacle that is bhangra dance!
Blog by Vanessa Power
Photo Courtesy VIBC