I was born and brought up in a town where I lived 5 minutes away from the local Gurdwara, my school hosted charity week events such as ‘Strictly Come Bhangra’ and it was a norm to hear Bhangra music being blasted by car drivers and local corner shops.
Yes, basically, I grew up being constantly exposed to the vibrant Punjabi culture.
Bhangra was everyone’s favourite. When it came to school shows, Bhangra would be the chosen dance style to start and end the show. Little did I appreciate the dance style at the time. University changed that for me completely.
During my first year of university, I decided to join the Bhangra Society. I wanted to see what the hype was all about. I feel extremely proud and honoured to say that my first ever dance experience of Bhangra is what has brought me here today – a dancer who wants to try new things, push boundaries of dance and ultimately love it!
I would describe Punjabis as a very strong group of people with a positive community spirit. They represent a cultural group whom are very proud of their origins. By spending the past two and half years immersed in their culture, I have realised the importance of appreciating and being proud of my own Tamil culture to ensure I positively represent Tamil arts.
During my training for The Bhangra Showdown 2016 competition, I realised that me being on the team means that I have a responsibility to represent that culture in the best way possible. I learnt that Bhangra dancers’ biggest asset was the love and passion they showed towards their culture. For me to achieve that, I had to understand their values to the best of my ability.
It was then that I knew that without an appreciation of culture, dance is merely a string of non-expressive steps. Being a great dancer is not about your technique but about the passion you have for it. That passion comes from not only falling in love with the dance style itself, but the history and culture behind it. It is not only about the 5 to 10 minutes of dancing you do on stage, but the knowledge you acquire through the journey of getting to that stage.
#TamilGirlBecomesPunjabi is my very own hashtag which means a lot to me. Don’t take it quite literally! I am honestly too Tamil to ever ‘become Punjabi’. This hashtag of mine represents the importance of discovering yourself as an individual, which ultimately creates an impact on everything that you do. I have decided to be ‘Punjabi’ in the way that I represent my own Tamil-ness through my dance. I have become more appreciative and proud of my roots, just like my Punjabi friends are of theirs, and I love myself for it.
So finally, if there is one thing I would say to all artists out there whether you are a dancer, a singer, a musician or an actor – take time to look at its roots. This enables you to respect, love and live the arts.