Hasmeet Singh Chandok's life took an unexpected turn when he arrived in Halifax in 2013 to pursue a master's program in computer science at Dalhousie University. Though he eventually graduated and became an IT professional, he founded the Maritime Bhangra Group. The group combines Punjabi folk dance and music with fundraising for Canadian causes, resulting in a delightful and uplifting experience. Their 20 viral videos are proof that their efforts are both enjoyable and impactful.

The Maritime Bhangra Group 

It all began as a way to practice a dance style that was familiar in Punjab, but it quickly evolved into something much bigger. What started as a dance troupe eventually turned into a fundraising and awareness-raising effort for various causes in the community. Eventually, it gained momentum and became quite successful, especially by our standards. Hasmeet says that they were one of the few Atlantic Canadian artists to participate in Canada 150, and their videos, with about 20 going viral, have garnered millions of views from around the world. It was an unexpected but exciting journey for them that helped to put the Maritimes on the map.

Hasmeet believes that it became popular because of pure joy and the love of the Canadian people. It is not limited to a few people, but the love and adoration from the people that made Maritime Bhangra the way it is now.


The farmers of Punjab, a North Indian province, used to practice a dance after their harvest. This tradition is similar to those in other farming communities around the world. Eventually, this celebration became a part of the local culture and was performed at happy events. As Hasmeet said, their  dance troupe wanted to add something to the joyful bhangra dance, so they called their work "joyful activism."

What is joyful activism exactly?

In the world of activism, especially in the Western world, there is a clear divide between white and black communities with little room for compromise. Hasmeet stated that people usually don’t listen to each other enough, and so they wanted to create a platform where everyone could come together. Their performances take place in churches, reserves, and other diverse settings, which is a perfect example of joyful activism. They engage with people from all political affiliations and address issues from a nonpartisan perspective. It's essential to have a conversation that encompasses everyone from the left, right, and center.

The Maritime Group started with ASL, then they worked on some of the significant causes like autism, breast cancer, and went on to help whoever needed it. A lot of big organizations approach them, and at the same time, they are always on the lookout to see who needs their help. 

More about Maritime

Hasmeet shared that while they might not have received any formal dance training, but that doesn't stop them from busting a move on the dance floor. The drunk uncles at weddings have unknowingly become their dance instructors. The beauty of it is that anyone can do it, and it's not about being perfect or getting evaluated. Dancing is about having fun and enjoying the moment, whether you do it right or wrong.

The magic of bhangra 

Bhangra is all about clean and balanced movements, just like any other dance. But the most important part is to keep smiling throughout the performance. This tradition originated from the time when farmers finished harvesting and could access funds to buy gifts for their families, which made them happy. Although it's uncertain if it's part of their DNA, happiness is always associated with dancing. Even after practicing a routine a hundred times, the dancers may be exhausted, but as soon as the camera starts rolling, they all have a smile on their face. That's the magic of bhangra!

Punjabi individuals living in North America have developed their own unique variations of traditional moves in the Bhangra scene. Meanwhile, those living in the U.K. have also crafted their own variations. Despite attempting to practice more traditional moves, the influence of their current surroundings cannot be ignored. As a result, the Bhangra scene has evolved differently in various parts of the world.

Bhangra Choreography 

Hasmeet shares that the Toronto chapter is led by his brother Kunwardeep Singh, but everyone chips in and joins the effort. This is particularly noteworthy for immigrants who often have to make every minute count to earn a living and improve their families' lives. Working with the group doesn't generate any income, it's purely a volunteer effort. Creating the choreographies for the group requires a lot of time and effort, as evidenced by their daily video uploads since February.

Maritime Group’s moment of pride 

Sometimes it's the little things that create the most meaningful moments. Hasmeet shares that they received a message from a mother that really hit home. Her daughter was struggling with neurological issues and didn't have many friends or toys to play with. However, the mother shared that every day they watched their videos together and talked about the dances and the things they saw in them. This simple act of connection created a special moment between the mother and daughter, something that couldn't be replicated elsewhere. It made them realize that sometimes the smallest actions can have the biggest impact on someone's life.

*Based on an article by John DeMont, in Salt Wire on 25th June 2021


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