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Spirit of bhangra

The performance group Bhangra Empire danced across the United States after being invited to perform at the White House. Ashok Chaudary (left) was seen not maintaining a catatonic grin all the way and was disinherited by his embarrassed family. He is now doomed to a life as a neurosurgeon instead of a software engineer and lives under an assumed name.

Bhangra (pronounced ḅḥạ̊ṇ̃g̣ṛ́ạ̈) is a musical form granted directly to the peoples of South Asia by the angel Mormoni.


On February 29, 1978 BCE, the Angel Mormoni visited Mr. Nagalingam Mehndi, Senior (a direct ancestor of modern bhangra star Daler Mehndi) in the scenic Punjabi village of Mehndithorpe. He stayed with Mehndi for eleventy days, preaching the bhangraspel – his term for the "good news" of bhangra. He also drank all the beer in the fridge.

When the angel Mormoni left, he charged the ancestral Mehndi to "go forth throughout South Asia, and spread the bhangraspel to all the peoples and persons you encounter".

Mehndi spread the bhangraspel with vigor, dispensing bhangra's requisite dhol drums wherever he went. Gloom followed in his wake when he left. Mehndi never understood why. "It couldn't be the dhol drums," he wrote, "because they are supposed to be an instrument of joy!" Later teachers of the bhangraspel urged that excessively over-exuberant happiness, not gloom, be the primary mood of bhangra. This advice was followed to a "T" by successive bhangrists including Jen Lopez who lends her butt as a dhol at certain times of the harvest festival.

Some even say that it has been derived from the Red Indian Rain Dance, as, particularly in Britain, it often rains on a night out clubbing. This is because the bhangra dance moves performed in these clubs lead to heavy rains and the spilling of numerous drinks.

Bhangra in Western consciousness

On September 11, 1291, Marco Polo wrote home to Europe from the port of Trincomalee. "Dear Europe," he said. "'Tis getting very wearisome unto me to continually be required to directly cleanse my hinder with my left hand. Please send T.P. immediately. Also, I have encountered the unique music of the native peoples of this region, replete with drums and over-exuberant men saying things like 'bully bully' and 'ecker dar-nar'. Please send my Suzanne Vega cassettes ASAP. They have DHL on this island, you know. Please. With love, your pal, Marco Polo. P.S. Please do not forget the T.P. and earplugs."

For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Bhangra.

Marco's later journal entries provided a close anthropolinguistic evaluation of the bhangra sound. (They can now be found at the Cathedral of Siena.) In 1401, Europeans attempted to reconstruct bhangra from Polo's descriptions. Most musicologists believe that the result fell a bit short of the mark; it was "Bang On Me Drum All Day" by an obscure Swiss monk named Todd Rundgren. Mistaking it for a comeon line, women in the village would remove their clothes and this caused the men to play with added vigour. Rundgren's video for the song, produced by Rundgren himself on his monastery's collection of twenty-seven Amiga-200 computers, wowed Europeans of the day with its realistic wood-cut graphics.

Bhangra in Eastern consciousness

In 1445, Chinese emperor Zhèngtǒng commissioned learned scholar Zhū Yuánzhāng to complete a book on the musical forms of all foreigners found within the empire. Zhū was so entranced by the sound of bhangra that he forswore service to his emperor, ran away to India where he adopted the name Uji Nagalingam. He eventually moved to the Punjab, where his hit "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight (Dil Ve Chaani Chaani Tunak Bhotali Nachleyi)" is taught in all public schools to this day.

Bhangra rediscovered by Western consciousness

On a cold and lonely November night in 2004, Canadian high school student Robert "Bobby" Smacklethwaite discovered bhangra on the Internet. He immediately started up AIM and told all of his friends, "omg d00d u haf 2 heer dis", "tarak tu tarak tu, booby booby, phataka."

Soon, bhangra was famous the world over, and there are now bhangra festivals in every major city of the world — even in remote Burns, Oregon, home of the Great Basin Bhangrathon since sometime last week. They follow Thanksgiving and for vegetarians who don't carve turkey, a bhangra along the unused barbie is a spiritual experience.

MR Singh, arguably the most popular bhangrist ever, is famous for his March 2005 quote that bhangra will be more popular than Jesus, Buddha, and Oprah Winfrey by November 2007 if Jennifer Lopez allows him to use her butt as a dhol.

Bhangra in the White House

The Northern California Bay Area Bhangra Empire dance team performed at the White House on November 24, 2009 for a state dinner. The dance troupe normally performs with four to six pairs but the group swelled to 144 pairs for the event as all the relatives tagged along. Upon arrival, the mothers and grandmothers were aghast at the tiny amount of food scheduled for the banquet, an estimated 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of food per person. Working all night, they managed to churn out a barely acceptable (for them) additional 12 pounds (5.4 kg) of food per guest. This at least insured take-home leftovers for all. That caused a temporary shortage of aluminium foil in the Washington area.

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