05/30/2013 01:50 EDT | Updated 06/01/2013 01:09 EDT

City Of Bhangra Festival In Vancouver Celebrates Indian Dance

City of Bhangra

Vancouver is set to erupt with bright colours and tabla music as it hosts the ninth annual City of Bhangra Festival beginning today through June 8.

With several artists and dancers coming to Vancouver from around the world, it's a chance for the city to celebrate the popular cross-cultural performance art.

This year's event plays host to a wide selection of musicians including Sunil Kalyan, a world-renowned tabla player, known for his work on Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On" and Timbaland's "Beware of the Boys", and part of the festival's Repercussion night, fusing together drumming techniques from India, Brazil and Japan.

One of the festival's aims is to encourage people to practice bhangra regardless of cultural background, co-founder and organizer Sukhi Ghuman told The Huffington Post B.C.

"Bhangra is a celebratory event," she said. "We ... work really hard to create cross-cultural collaborations. This shows that regardless of race or ethnicity, we can come together and celebrate."

The origins of the festival sprouted in 2004, when Ghuman was sitting in a Tim Hortons in Abbotsford with some friends. They discussed how bhangra teams from Vancouver were winning dance competitions all over the world, but that people didn't know about it in their hometowns.

"We thought, why not showcase our teams here in Metro Vancouver because they're having to go everywhere else?"

That year they hosted an international dance competition and the event has since grown to a ten-day festival. Organizers have eliminated the dance competition, opting instead for a showcase of bhangra talent.

Previous years have seen anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 people participate, and this year they are hoping for as many as 10,000 attendees.

A big crowd is expected at Downtown Bhangra on June 7, as musicians and dance teams perform on the Vancouver Art Gallery's north plaza in a free public event.

Another highlight is a Bhangra on Main performance by UK artist D-Sarb - his "Sahan" is a popular track for the first dance at Indian weddings. He'll be joined by Kalyan for a showcase of Punjabi folk songs alongside traditional Sufi music at the Heritage Hall.

Check out City of Bhangra 2013's performers:

City Of Bhangra 2013 Performers

Surrey Folk Bhangra Club

The Surrey Folk Bhangra Club is among several teams who will showcase the dance art.


Shava is probably the world's only Finnish bhangra band. They fuse Finnish lyrics with bhangra beats in what they call "Finnjabi" music.


UK artist D-Sarb has produced dance favourites such as "Vang Nachdi" and "Charkey" featuring Jeeti Singh, which was a No. 1 hit on the BBC's Official Asian Download Chart. He'll perform at Bhangra on Main and Downtown Bhangra.

Sunil Kalyan

Tabla player Sunil Kalyan has played with hip hop artists such as Missy Elliott and Timbaland. He'll take part in the cross-cultural Repercussion night.

DJ Harpz

UK-based DJ Harpz is performing at City of Bhangra just as he gets ready to release his debut album this summer. Prominent on the UK club circuit, he'll appear at Non-Stop Bhangra featuring turntablists and dancers at Vancouver's Ginger Sixty-Two nightclub.

Saini Surinder

Folk singer Saini Surinder gained prominence with songs such as "Mundra," "Get Funky" and "Gabru Rangeeleh." He'll perform at Downtown Bhangra at the Vancouver Art Gallery.