Punjabi: bhangRaa

Wolverine9

Senior Member
American English
I've heard that bhangRaa is related to the word bhang/bhaang (cannabis). It seems plausible because the beverage was (and maybe still is?) commonly consumed, especially in rural areas. However, other than some questionable sources, I haven't found anything conclusive in support of a relationship between the two terms. Does anyone know if bhangRaa is indeed derived from bhang?
 
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  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I've heard that bhangRaa is related to the word bhang/bhaang (cannabis). It seems plausible because the beverage was (and maybe still is?) commonly consumed, especially in rural areas. However, other than some questionable sources, I haven't found anything conclusive in support of a relationship between the two terms. Does anyone know if bhangRaa is indeed derived from bhang?
    I think not! And I would not go as far as to say that the bhaNg "beverage was/is commonly consumed". Those who partake in the "joys of bhaNg" are a very very small minority and you might put them in the category of "tramps" and the like (dossers/wasters). Ordinary folk leave them to their devices.

    Here is a short article about bhaNgRaa. It is a folk dance of the Punjab and is linked to spring and harvest, especially the festival of Baisaakhii.

    http://nonstopbhangra.blogspot.co.uk/2008/03/what-is-bhangra.html
     
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    hindiurdu

    Senior Member
    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    Afaik the traditional word for someone who consumed bhaNg was bhaNgi. Which altered meaning to become the name of a profession (garbagemen).
     

    mundiya

    Senior Member
    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    Hi,

    I think there could be a connection between bhang and bhangRa. I read an old article from British times, and it said that hemp (bhang) was a major crop of Punjab. It also mentioned that alcohol consumption in India was uncommon at the time with people drinking bhang instead, the way Europeans drink wine. The situation is different now because of international policies and stigma against marijuana. But bhang is still significant to some Hindus because of its connection to Shiva worship and was a traditional part of Holi, a festival celebrated in the spring. I can see the bhangRa dance originally linked to consumption of bhang to celebrate springtime and the harvest. BhangRa is not associated with bhang anymore as far as I know.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    mundiya Jii, having grown up and lived in the Punjab and being fortunate enough to have been in the company of people who were very old whilst I was very young, I do not ever remember a piece of conversation in which bhaNgRaa was linked to "bhaNg". These people were around during the last part of the British rule. In my personal experience of the Punjab countryside, I have never seen "bhaNg" being cultivated by the farmers as they would cultivate wheat, barley, sugar cane, tobacco, jute, cotton, lentils, vegetables or anything else.

    If "bhaNg" was part of the normal Punjabi cultural scene, one would expect it in the writings of our classical poets. I am not saying I am knowledgeable about all that has been written but is it not strange that our oral literature has things like "baajre the siTTaa asaaN talii te maroRiyaa" but not something like "p_hang the piyaalah asaaN muuNh naal laayaa"!?

    All this says nothing about etymology, I know.

    From my childhood days, I have witnessed "bhaNg" being consumed. On our way to our school, we would pass through our village graveyard, which at that time was outside and away from the village. In this graveyard was a "xaanqaah" in which a certain holy man whom we (the children) only knew as "Baba Jii". There were one or two people who had a meager accommodation there and part of their job was to make sure that the xaanqaah was kept swept and tidy. In their spare time, they were joined by up to around 4 further individuals and between them they had their "own" piece of land in which they grew bhaNg. They would pick leaves of this plant and grind it using pestle and mortar, add some almonds and other ingredients and make a drink with copious amount of water. Apart from these "bhaNgis", I did n't know anyone who was engaged in growing "bhaNg" in our area or in the region where my mother originally came from. The latter mentioned region was and to some extent still is what I would describe as true rural Punjab.

    As you can well imagine, my parents were from the age of united India and lived with other faith communities such as Hindus and Sikhs. Once again, I can not remember my parents ever associating bhaNg with Holi or any other cultural or religious festival.
     
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    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    And I would not go as far as to say that the bhaNg "beverage was/is commonly consumed". Those who partake in the "joys of bhaNg" are a very very small minority and you might put them in the category of "tramps" and the like (dossers/wasters). Ordinary folk leave them to their devices.

    Just for the record: Actually, bhang was certainly commonly consumed in north India: and even today, after all the restrictions, there are many who consume bhang on Shivaratri (mostly in Thandaai). It is not just "wasters" who consume(d) it; people of all classes do/did so, including otherwise "respectable" people.

    Hemp did certainly grow all over Punjab, it seems, and was of course consumed: so regardless of whether bhangra has come from bhang or no, it is an omission from the poets in Punjabi to not to write about it (if indeed they have not done so). See here.

    That "bhangra" might be related to "bhaang" cannot be ruled out by any means: see here and here. What does give more credence to the theory is that Bhangra is done at the time of harvest-time festivals, when hemp buds also mature. See here. Where it also seems that "bhang" does seem to have been mentioned quite a lot in at least Sikh texts from Punjab, if not in Punjabi poetry.

    Anyway, we don't seem to have a clear etymological proof.
     
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