I have never visited the verdant state of Punjab.
But in a strange quirk of fate, my life in Brampton addresses that gap.
So, one evening recently, I stopped to take in a bhangra competition hosted by a thriving dance studio.
I am no stranger to this dance form; yet, I was unprepared for the assault of colour, talent and sheer exuberance that unfolded in front of me.
While many businesses in the province are struggling to stay afloat and relevant, Nachdi Jawani (Youthful Dance) appears to be thriving. These merchants of culture appear to be hitting all the right notes, unlike Ontario’s limp manufacturing sector.
The school offers weekend classes in bhangra and gidda (both are traditional folk-dances of Punjab) along with drumming (dhol) lessons for youngsters. In the 12 years since its launch, Nachdi Jawani has opened studios in four locations in the GTA. The school has some 1,000 students enrolled.
Come to think of it, packaging culture in North America makes for savvy business. Children who grow up here sample and imbibe both the Canadian and South Asian life without confusion. So, while the appeal for swimming and soccer exists among immigrants, as do products and services that play to sentiments of culture.
If you or your business has any connection to tradition and you say are a religious leader, who can perform rituals at Hindu weddings and funerals; a music teacher versatile in classical Indian music or a tandoori chef specializing in ethnic cuisine, chances are you are busy.
Iqbal Virk, founder and president of Nachdi Jawani. Virk has been able to market his school in a rather ingenious way. He says the high-energy tempo of bhangra not only gives participants a good workout, but the children learn the language and folklore of their ancestors. When you put it that way, it’s a win-win.
There’s something about bhangra that’s infectious. Every occasion comes alive when the rhythmic sound of dhol reverberates through speakers. It’s as if people have been given a shot of adrenaline.
Well, you have to hand it to Punjabis in the GTA. Their spirit of enterprise has given us all among other things: butter chicken, bhangra, and blueprint for small businesses to succeed.