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Bhangra on the Banks III brings students together to celebrate Punjabi culture

Students from six different universities along the east coast joined Rutgers on Friday to celebrate Punjabi culture with vibrant dancing, cuisine and festivities. 

More than 400 people filled Trayes Hall at the Douglas Student Center on Douglass campus in an event titled "Bhangra on the Banks III." The event was hosted by the Association of Punjabis at Rutgers University (APRU) and acted as an official Punjabi formal and intercollegiate Bhangra dance showcase.

"Bhangra on the Banks III" consisted of six dance teams from various parts of the country showcasing their Bhangra talent and exchanging skills between schools. 

The teams that participated were American University’s American Bhangra Crew, University of Connecticut’s Husky Bhangra, Rutgers Newark’s Brick City Bhangra, NYU Bhangra from New York University, GU Jawani from Georgetown University and Rutgers New Brunswick’s own team, Nehriyan Bhangra.

In addition to students across the east coast, family members also joined in for the evening. 

Sachin Duggal, president of the Rutgers Association of Punjabis and a School of Engineering junior, said "Bhangra on the Banks III" was one of the association’s major flagship events, held not only at Rutgers University, but at several schools on the east coast.

“It’s something we’re very prideful of," he said. "We’re not only collaborating with Rutgers students but we have six other schools here tonight. It’s really important that we come together as a community to celebrate our culture."

The event included dinner consisting of different dishes of Punjabi food, such as daal, paneer makhini, chicken makhini, naan and rasmalai.

Zainab Anwar, a School of Management and Labor Relations sophomore, particularly enjoyed the food.

“I came with my friend just for a fun night. I’m really looking forward to all of the dance shows. The food was really good,” she said.

Anand Adhikari, a senior at American University in Washington D.C., was a dancer who came to participate in the program. 

Previously, he said the Bhangra Crew at American University had not participated in events off campus. The event at Rutgers gave the group an opportunity to get exposure and experience.

Cultural showcases, such as the event at Rutgers, encourage relations between different universities, which Adhikari said is important.

“It’s also important for us to understand how Bhangra works at other universities so that we can continue to work and build on our own team’s skills as well," he said "This is a great opportunity as a team and as a university to do just that."

Some students used long sticks to dance with, called daangs and sapps. Students also performed with drums using the dhol. 

The highlight of the night was the dance floor at the end of the show, Druggal said.

“We have a dance floor that’s going to be held by the CEO of World’s Best Bhangra Crew DJ Raj Minocha. As you can see it’s really crazy, we have six moving heads, six TV's and all the works so we’re really excited to conclude the night with that,” he said.

Nupur Arora, vice president of APRU, said that the association was pleased with the turnout of the evening. 

“It was the first time we've ever done a Bhangra Showcase for the Rutgers community. Usually we would have an event with a main performer or singer, but this is the first time we've ever gotten various teams to come through to perform," she said. 

She said it was a great experience and the association also learned a lot in the process.

"We would definitely like to do this again in the future if given the opportunity and possibly branch out to teams in across the United States," she said.

Duggal said the event was successful because of the help of his team and the Douglass Student Center staff. Moving forward, the association has many ideas planned for the future events. 

"... We always aspire for our events to be something people can look forward to and which allow them to be fully immersed in the Punjabi culture," he said. 

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