Bhangra beats take over Vancouver from lunch until late May 30 – June 8

A Finnish Bhangra band called Shava photo credit: VIBC

A Finnish Bhangra band called Shava photo credit: HSBC City of Bhangra/VIBC

One of Vancouver’s telltale signs of spring is back. The 9th annual HSBC City of Bhangra Festival runs from May 30 – June 8. Punctuated by colour and rhythm the festival attracts bhangra groups from as far as Brazil, India and Finland to our fair city.  

“We’re trying to feature new acts like young Canadian singer Inder Kooner. By supporting acts like Inder, the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society builds community for everyone through the celebration of bhangra,” says Sukhi Ghuman, a member of the festival organizing committee.

“We really want all cultures and communities to feel welcome at the festival.”

Originating about 500 years ago, Bhangra was invented by wheat farmers in India’s Punjab province. Toiling in the hot, golden fields Punjabi farmers would dance and sing about village life to fight the monotony of working all day during harvest season.

In the last 40 years or so Bhangra has surged in popularity, attracting fans in the global south and north, becoming the dance brand of India.

Starting in 2005, the HSBC City of Bhangra was so successful it now includes events in both Vancouver and Surrey.

Photo credit: VIBC/HSBC City of Bhangra

Photo credit: VIBC/HSBC City of Bhangra

 “During this year’s festival, there will be over 20 hours of free programming to enjoy. We’re expecting about 10,000 people to attend the different events throughout the 10 days. There are about 200 performers,” explains Guhman who used to be part of the UBC bhangra team.

Vancouver highlights for the 2013 HSBC City of Bhangra include:

rePercussion -  a drum-filled reception featuring the percussion talents of artists from Zimbabwe, Cuba, the UK and Surrey’s Dhol Nation Academy. rePercussion kicks the festival off at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre May 30 from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Lunchtime Bhangra – the downtown lunch crowd can take a dance break and observe dance shows on Robson between Howe and Hornby Streets June 3 from noon – 1:00 p.m.

Downtown Bhangra – (my personal favourite) gather after work on Friday June 7 for an evening of bhangra moves like the Jhummer and Chutki Lehria. Dance troupes and musical performances go from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on the West Georgia side of the Vancouver Art Gallery between Hornby and Howe Streets. 

Non-stop Bhangra – after the outdoor performances June 7 put on your dance pants to catch Dj Harpz, Dj Anjali and The Incredible Kid at the Vancouver FanClub from 10:00 p.m. until late.

For a full list of HSBC City of Bhangra events visit here.

Who is your favourite local bhangra dance team? Let us know in the comments section below.

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