Embracing Indian culture, DJ Anjali spreads joy through music

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DJ Anjali best known for Bhangra

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For 2 decades, Anjali Hursh has been bringing people together with her South Asian music and dance moves.

She is better known as DJ Anjali. “But my full name is actually Gitanjali. My mother named me. My mother is from India. She named me after a book of poems, of which Gitanjali means song offering. So it was kind of like – I was born to be a DJ, you know?

She holds that birthright, thrilling Portland crowds since 2000 with her partner, The Incredible Kid.

The style for which she is best known, Bhangra“is the folk dance of Punjab. This style, it’s almost as if this music found me, as if my family came from another part of India. So I didn’t grow up with Bhangra. But when I became a DJ, I had a few Bhangra CDs and compilations and it was just, like, it’s such fun party music.

It’s party music and dance scenes you might see in Bollywood movies.

“Like, arms up, everybody, like, jump up and down,” she said with a laugh. “Bollywood definitely kind of absorbs a lot of Bhangra.”

DJ Anjali in Portland, May 12, 2022 (KOIN)

Before becoming a DJ, however, there was a time when Anjali did not embrace this side of her ancestry.

“Of course, I went through my teenage years where I was, like, I reject all my Indian heritage,” she said. “Then it came back to me after college, like, organically, like, on my own terms, I guess.”

Now she has advice for others who might be going through something similar.

Watch: DJ Anjali and The Incredible Kid, 2013

“I think as a kid, like an Asian immigrant kid, you can be so bored when you’re young by all the traditions. I think it’s really typical to go through your rejection phase,” she said. “But then the beauty of it all is that later in life you can embrace it however you want, you know what I mean?”

Through her journey to embrace her Indian roots, DJ Anjali was able to spread joy while sharing a fun part of her culture.

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