You may have taken note of the dancers' extremely colorful Bhangra uniforms/outfits, or vardiyaan, during the performance. The vardiyaan not only emphasize the visual effect of Bhangra moves, but they also are designed to enable the dancer's maximum range of motion. In other words, the vardiyaan are the perfect combination of aesthetics and mobility. Today, men and women typically have a tendency to wear different vardiyaan while performing Bhangra.
ELEMENTS OF THE VARDIYAAN
Men tend to wear a chadr, a kurta, a vest, and a pagh, while women wear a salwar, a kurta, a vest, and a chunni. The chadr is the bottom half of the outfit, and consists of a long, rectangular piece of unstitched cloth tied around the dancer's waist. It covers the majority of the dancer's legs and is strategically tied so as to prevent the cloth from restricting the dancer's movement. The female complement to the chadr is the salwar. The salwar consists of loose fitting trouser pants with numerous pleats stitched into the fabric. In contrast to the chadr, the salwar covers the dancer's leg completely. The trousers are stitched so that when the dancer performs high-knee and leg-lifting steps, the pleats artfully hang to mimic the effect and coverage of the chadr. However, there are some women that do wear a chadr, kurta, and/or pagh while performing Bhangra.
The kurta is common to both types of vardiyaan. The kurta is a long-sleeved tunic that comes down to approximately the dancer's knees, or just above them. The sleeveless vest is worn over the kurta. Both the kurta and chadr are colorful, and display heavily embroidered intricate designs.
The pagh and chunni are head coverings that reflect the Sikh religion that is predominant in the state of Punjab. Culturally, head coverings are common as well. They are a symbol of pride, humility, fortitude, and respect. The Bhangra pagh is a long piece of cloth that is intricately wrapped around the dancer's head, culminating in a heavily, starched, pleated fan (turla) that crowns the whole turban. The chunni is a colorful scarf that is artfully draped around a woman's head and pinned to her kurta and vest. There are many other aspects to the vardiyaan as well. Not limited to just jewelry, these consist of various accent pieces that serve to enhance specific elements of a Bhangra routine. For example, earrings and necklaces (i.e. jhumke, kainthe, taveet) draw attention to a dancer's facial expressions. Rumaalan, or handkerchiefs, were traditionally tied around a dancer's wrist to highlight their complex hand movements. All parts of the vardiyaan complement the dance in that each element has origins steeped in meaning, symbolism, and purpose.