Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy in Nova Scotia

·2 min read
Gurdeep Pandher dances on Inverness Beach in Nova Scotia.  (Gurdeep Pandher - image credit)
Gurdeep Pandher dances on Inverness Beach in Nova Scotia. (Gurdeep Pandher - image credit)

While preparing to make a video in a Halifax park, it wasn't long before a complete stranger shouted out to Gurdeep Pandher.

"You're the bhangra guy from the Yukon!" yelled a woman, beaming with joy. "You're an inspiration."

It has been that way for the teacher, author and performer for the past two years. He receives messages of gratitude everywhere he goes.

While at his remote cabin in the Yukon, Pandher was determined to make Canadians smile through his videos. And he did.

Now he's on the same mission. But this time he is spreading a message of joy, hope and positivity in person.

Colleen Jones/CBC
Colleen Jones/CBC

He bought a van, added some solar panels on the roof, put in a bed and called it a home.

"I find that these messages are very important when there's a lot of sorrow, a lot of suffering, and a lot of sadness in the world," said Pandher.

His tour is taking him across the country. His latest stop was Halifax's Point Pleasant Park.

Colleen Jones/CBC
Colleen Jones/CBC

He also danced while his friend played the bagpipes at Peggys Cove. He called it cross-culture togetherness.

He visited Inverness last week. While sitting in The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, a stranger paid his bill.

"I was so touched by that anonymous generosity and kindness of local people and how they treat guests," he said.

At the peak of the pandemic, Pandher would film a video of him dancing each day.

To his surprise, many people would send handwritten notes of gratitude to his cabin in the Yukon. Those who didn't know his address would just write Gurdeep Pandher, Bhangra, Yukon on the envelope. He received those letters, too.

"Their love inspired me to go to their places," Pandher said. "So now I'm here visiting those communities from where people used to write me letters and spread those messages so that I can uplift the spirit of people."

Meeting people in person creates a human connection, he says

"I feel that sharing and learning together creates understanding, it creates information knowledge and also breaks down many many barriers," Pandher told CBC Information Morning in Cape Breton.

Bhangra originated in Punjab, India, and was created by farmers to spread joy. Pandher comes from a family of farmers.

"In fact, this is a happy dance because it was created to spread happiness," Pandher said before teaching CBC reporter Colleen Jones some steps.

Colleen Jones/CBC
Colleen Jones/CBC

His first video from Canada Day in Whitehorse in 2016 went viral. He believes it was successful because it was so unexpected.

"It was new and people just loved that, that people were having a good time together. They were not making any kind of judgments."

His tour will take him through the Maritimes. Then he'll go west, then north, and be back to his cabin before winter.

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