Today, Naujawani.com has proudly announced a media partnership to promote an upcoming UK competition – Bhangra Wars. Bhangra Wars is the first ever UK bhangra competition open to all professional groups, university bhangra societies and bhangra dance academies aiming to liven up UK bhangra culture and take it to the next level. This family orientated event takes place on Saturday 15 October at The Ramgharia Community Center in Leicester and will help to raise money for humanitarian charities Khalsa Aid and Focus Punjab. The event promises to be an exciting night of fun, entertainment and bhangra!
This isn’t Naujawani.com’s first foray into the world of Punjabi folk dancing. Two years ago Naujawani:TV interviewed participating teams from the University-only competition, The Bhangra Showdown. Having attended the first competition in 2007, we were amazed by the initiative that students had taken to share the Punjabi spirit of music and dance in such a grand way and were enamoured by their youthful exuberance in taking to the stage. We wanted to document that and met with some of the leading students from various teams. They were impressive! So much so that Naujawani.com became the main sponsors of The Bhangra Showdown in 2011. We were proud to support the Imperial College Punjabi society and in the spirit of fairness extended our support to other teams including Kingston University Bhangra Society, University of Manchester’s Ruhan Punjab Diyan and the ultimate winners of The Bhangra Showdown in 2011, the University of Birmingham.
Sadly, our involvement with The Bhangra Showdown has come to an end and will not be renewed in 2012 at the request of the 2011/2012 Imperial College Punjabi Society. We met with both the outgoing and incumbent joint-Presidents earlier this summer where our offer of ongoing sponsorship was politely refused. We think they have taken an admirable decision; as they confirmed to us it is based on one important consideration: Naujawani.com is supportive of many student bhangra teams across the UK and this could affect the credibility of the competition. Judging bhangra competitions is never an easy task and can be made harder by allegations of favouritism, so we fully respect the committee for trying to ensure that this cannot be levelled against them or indeed us. Our only goal has been to support the enthusiastic take-up of traditional Punjabi folk dancing in the UK and to help it develop as other Punjabi communities around the World have managed to achieve. Along the way we have managed to become part and parcel of the movement and are happy that in some small way, we hold influence to some of the teams around the UK.
The Bhangra Showdown is of course only one competition, but up until now it has been the only competition. That is something we cannot be accused of prolonging. For almost a year now, we have been vocally advocating for other competitions to emerge in both student and graduate bhangra team circles. It is ridiculous to suggest that only a few people in the country have either the ability or the initiative to organise and promote a bhangra competition, but remarkably that was the view we found espoused by some. Fortunately they were in the minority and Bhangra Wars is the first of what will be a few competitions to emerge over the next decade. As our cousins across the Atlantic have found, only the strong competitions will survive and sure enough there may be a few disappointing nights on the way, but what a ride to anticipate! Any true bhangra lover can’t help but feel the same, of this I’m sure after having spoken to many of the highly respected advocates of this traditional dance form.
The good people at Desi Kuri Events share this enthusiasm with us and after a jittery start to our relationship, we are now most certainly a loving partnership! Like the best of desi marriages, we were awkwardly introduced to one another in a room full of gawping Punjabis on the Naujawani.com-owned NachdaPunjab.co.uk discussion forum. We had a few misunderstandings and the odd disagreement at first, but managed to cut through the chaff to see where we stood. Like the best of partnerships we shared a similar vision for what was important, and although no ladoos were provided, our partnership has been sealed over the last few weeks. (Can I flog this dead horse of an arranged marriage analogy by telling you that neither of our company persons have yet met in person? Can’t wait for that shock moment in Leicester!)
The discussion forum we launched at NachdaPunjab.co.uk is also quickly becoming one of the bastions of this bhangra movement in the UK and is likely to be the place that gives birth to further competitions. Indeed, registered members of the forum can soon embark on a private competition against other members inspired by one of our moderators – the enigmatic Faysal Hanif. Faysal is one of those people to whom we thank the Almighty for crossing onto our path. He is undisputedly the most passionate belaati in the Punjabi folk dancing scene and has gone a long way to influence our thinking about how bhangra competitions should and will develop in the UK. He is not alone and we have been highly fortunate in these exciting times to be inspired by many student heroes who have ignited the bhangra competition scene. There are choreographers like Simon Berik and Isha Dhillon from Queen Mary University in London whose dedication to perfecting the art-form is without equal on these shores; team leaders like Ramey Bajwa from the University of Birmingham whose diplomacy and reasoning is quite frankly unheard of in South Asian circles; and dancers like Nitin Chand Doal from the University of Manchester whose range of abilities shine across the entire stage. They are joined by enigmatic University of Birmingham dancers Jas Poonian and Deepak Singh Sethi as moderators of the NachdaPunjab.co.uk discussion forum where we are proud to have them on board as part of the Naujawani.com family. Join them and us online to talk about all things ‘bhangra dancing’ in the UK and be sure to get yourself to Leicester on Saturday 15 October for Bhangra Wars!