Temple Bhangra continues to celebrate Indian culture through dance in 2014. The team recently held auditions for new members on Sept. 10, expecting to take its mission even further than before.
“The history of Temple University Bhangra starts back in 2007 when the team was first founded at Temple,” said Keshav Mantha, neuroscience major and head captain of Temple Bhangra. “Since then, growth has been a roller coaster ride.”
Mantha said that in 2012, the team experienced a rekindling and had more people join than ever before. According to Mantha, the growth has multiplied since then.
“This year the team has had the most exposure since its founding days,” Mantha said. “I’ve only been dancing Bhangra for a year. I started last year on the team, but ever since the first day, I have fallen in love with the dance.”
When Mantha came to Temple as a freshman, he knew that he wanted to stay involved with the South Asian and Indian community like he had when he was teenager. Though he is not originally from the Punjab region of India—where the Bhangra folk dance originates—he felt like joining the team was the best way to stay connected to a traditional Indian art form.
“Every time I dance I feel like I’m helping keep a centuries old tradition alive,” Mantha said. “Because we are one of the most diverse schools in the country it is absolutely essential that Temple maintains the culture of its student body, especially for the South Asian students.”
“I think that having a Bhangra team is a major part of that,” Mantha said. “It contributes in a major way to the diversity on this campus, while also upholding traditional North Indian roots that hundreds of students on campus can relate to.”
Bhangra traditionally began as a folk dance in Punjab, India, to celebrate the harvest and sometimes marriages. During Temple Bhangra’s auditions, prospective members had to learn a routine, and complete it successfully during a 45 second song mix.
“It was a compressed routine that tested most of the basic fundamentals of proper Bhangra dancing,” Mantha said. “As a captain, you have a say in the mix, the choreography, practice routines, performances and more. It’s very exciting knowing that a group of 12 or more people are dancing and performing to something that you helped create.”
Pooja Shah, Temple Bhangra co-captain and speech-language hearing major, said that he saw potential in the prospective members after watching the auditions.
“Auditions were great,” Pooja said. “I saw a lot of potential because we had two informationals and everyone was just so determined to get the basics back. We saw people there both days and they even contacted us individually for private practices.”
Mantha was impressed with the turn out as well.
“In the past, TUB has gotten on average about 20 people to attend informationals and teaching days,” Mantha said. “This year nearly 40 people showed up, which was a very pleasant surprise. It was some of the most fun I’ve had all year.”
Twelve new members successfully made it onto Temple Bhangra this year. Shah hopes that their dedication will eventually take the team to a competition.
“My number one goal for Bhangra this year is to be able to make it to a competition,” Pooja said. “Placing or not isn’t a matter to me, but if we do that would obviously be amazing. Seeing the smiling faces and the love for dance is really what makes it worthwhile.”
Though competition is definitely on her mind, Shah likes that Temple Bhangra will also help the new members to stay healthier.
“Bhangra has helped me mature on becoming not only a better dancer, but just generally more active in my daily life,” Pooja said. “It is basically all cardio, so it gives me great exercise, which then also has me wanting to eat healthy foods.”
Puja Shah, a 22-year-old Temple Bhangra alumna wishes the team success this year. During her time as captain, she admitted that the team was struggling.
“When I became captain of Temple Bhangra, the team was in a struggling point – my goal at the time was to have a solid team of individuals dedicated to dancing,” Puja said. “There were minor adjustments that I wanted to focus on as well, like buying new costumes, having the proper props to dance with, and having a real mix.”
Puja Shah said that although Temple Bhangra may struggle at times, she hopes that the new members will treasure their experience like she has. When Puja was a business major at Temple, she said that Bhangra taught her necessary skills that applied to her field of study.
Patience, passion, and excitement, Puja said, are values that continue to stay with her post-graduation.
“Bhangra is a blast – treasure it always and forever and smile as if the whole world is watching!” Puja said. “Don’t worry about messing up, forgetting the moves, or having a wardrobe malfunction.
“All you need to worry about is having fun,” she added. “I hope that the new members will always dance like it’s the last performance they will be giving. Dance your heart out and let the world see the passion you have.”
Sienna Vance firstname.lastname@example.org.