Guest column | Diaspora deeply rooted in Punjabi culture

Indian artists often tour foreign countries to perform and entertain the Indian diaspora. They are highly sought after in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

This summer, artists such as Arijit Singh, Kapil Sharma, AR Rehman, Diljit Dosanjh, and Neha Kakkar performed in Canada. Sponsors and organizers chose a venue, befitting the popularity of the artists and the crowd they were expected to draw.

We, too, attended singer Diljit Dosanjh’s performance in Vancouver. He performed at Rogers Arena, which is perhaps the biggest stadium. It is primarily used for ice-hockey matches, a game as popular in Canada as cricket is in India. It is said that this venue is booked for the most popular stars of the USA and Canada. No Indian artist had ever performed there before Dosanjh. Perhaps, the organizers and sponsors knew of Dosanjh’s immense popularity. It was a matter of pride that the stadium, which can seat around 19,000 spectators, was almost packed to capacity.

As we headed to the venue, we could see a large number of Indians, mostly Punjabis, converging there, in their best attire. Ladies were dressed in flashy suits and their best western attire, as if they were attending a wedding. Men, too, were dressed to the nines, flaunting their gold and silver chains and bracelets. The ambience was that of a great party. The seating was almost vertical from the ground to the ceiling, and the tickets ranged from $70 to $500 and even went higher, as per the proximity and view of the stage.

The audience restlessly waited for Dosanjh to arrive on stage. The scheduled time for the show was 7.30pm, but he appeared around 8.30pm. The crowd went into a hysterical frenzy, cheering, whistling and shouting, drowning out his initial speech. The show started with his most popular number GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). The audience went berserk, singing the song, and performing bhangra. We had to remain standing for the rest of the show as everyone in front of us was up on their feet and swaying their arms. The cheering and applauding was so loud that at times even Dosanjh seemed overwhelmed. He would profusely thank the audience after every number and even close his eyes a few times to thank God for the love being showered on him.

His songs are so worded that they are simple, romantic and devoid of any vulgarity. He is not only a versatile singer, but he is also good at it bhangra, which further enthralled the audience. He sang many popular songs such as ‘Do you know’, ‘Born to shine’, ‘Patiala peg’, ‘Lover’, and ‘Vibe’ among many others. Every bit the rock star, he threw his Celine jacket towards the crowd near the stage, and whoever grabbed it must have felt super lucky.

It was amazing to see how people living away from their homeland, remain connected to their culture and language. Those who were born and raised in Canada may not be proficient in the Punjabi language, but they enjoyed every bit of it. They say music has no language and that is truly reflected in the reaction of the audience. Even though a lot of Canadians may not have ever visited India, but they are madly in love with Punjabi music.

Finally, the best compliment for Dosanjh was from a woman who lives a few meters away from the arena. The day after the concert, she tweeted that she always hears loud noises whenever events or games are organized at Rogers Arena, but last night the cheer was the loudest!


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