Like curry, the Indian food everyone in the UK eats but few in India do, the bhangra has become another one of the country’s globally successful symbols. Everyone from Santa Claus, snow ploughers, to cricketers Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seem to love doing it.
Now, a video of a Canadian mayor doing the bhangra and learning how to tie the Sikh turban has gone viral around the world, garnering 4.5 million views and counting. It was the idea of Indian-Canadian dance teacher and author Gurdeep Pandher, who wrote to Dan Curtis, the Mayor of the city of Whitehorse, and asked him if would be interested in a bhangra lesson.
“This is without question the coolest thing I’ve ever been asked to do…ever!” Curtis wrote back. “I love it, a great big ‘YES please’ let’s do this.” After trying it, though, his enthusiasm was a little bit dampened.
“I had no clue,” Curtis told CBC News when explaining his attempt to perform the dance. “I was out of my comfort zone, to be honest. No one with my physique is that comfortable with juggling around.”
Pandher, who had previously written a biography of astronaut Kalpana Chawla and is currently writing one of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, has been using his dancing skills to show off Yukon, the westernmost and smallest of Canada’s three federal territories, to the world.
He said his goal was to promote the idea that “we are one Canada”. “I feel that when we know about different cultures, we connect better and it brings us together,” he told CBC News. “And as Canada is a multicultural country, I strongly believe this is the best way to deal with the hate and racism.”