Sunday, January 24, 2016

7-Letter Sunday: BHANGRA

Why 7-letter Sunday and not six letters or 13 letters? Because in Scrabble and Words With Friends, a rack of tiles is 7 letters. If you can make and play a word using up all your letters, you get a bonus (50 points in Scrabble, 35 in WWF). If you can play one of these words (Scrabblers call it a "bingo") over double or triple word scores, you can really rack up the points!

So 7-letter words are of particular interest to word game players. Plus, there's the whole alliteration thing with seven and Sunday!

Today's word is bhangra. It is an Indian word that has been adopted into English to describe a style of music and dance that comes from the Punjab region in India. The music tends to be lively and bouncy and in recent years has come to embrace everything from traditional Punjabi folk music to combinations with Western style pop, dance and hip hop music.

Bhangra dancing is also very lively and has become popular all over the world through Bollywood movies, dance competitions and exhibitions in the Indian diaspora communities around the globe, and most recently, in combination with exercise in workout classes and videos!

This video is for a Punjabi pop song and showcases bhangra music as well as bhangra dancing:

Thanks to Netflix, I've become more and more of a Bollywood fan in the last few years and particularly enjoy the fluffier romance and comedy movies that almost always feature multiple song and dance numbers. Bhangra music is energizing and fun to listen to, and just as hip hop has infiltrated the bhangra sound, I'm also tickled to recognize bhangra beats and samples in Western hip hop and dance music as well.

I didn't know about the bhangra dance competitions before researching this post, but I will definitely be watching for any that happen locally -- here in the Atlanta area we have a very large Indian community so I'm sure there are performances and competitions happening locally. Now I know to watch for them!

One more note on a Scrabble/WWF perspective -- players love to have words in their vocabulary that contain smaller, more common words within them so that you can add on letters to make a longer word, possibly reaching a high-scoring square on the board in the process. Bhangra has the word "hang" in the middle of it. Your opponent may expect a word like "hangs" or "hanger" -- but turning "hang" into "bhangra" will be a mind-blower!

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