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Dandiya: The New Workout of the West? More Like the Latest Cultural Appropriation.

Some of you might have heard about this new workout that is taking the USA by storm: the Pound workout. Using lightweight drumsticks called Ripsticks, it’s a group exercise for full body workouts that synchronize your movements with the music. 

Except this is not new. I don’t mean that it has been around for three years or that it has made the rounds on television shows like The View. It’s been around for much, much longer. Don’t believe me? Allow me to enlighten you.

The Pound is also known as Dandiya Raas, said to have originated from the time Lord Krishna lived on Earth.


It is a widely popular group dance among the Gujarati communities in India and across the world, especially during the celebration of Navratri, a festival dedicated to celebrating Goddess Durga.

Related: When Cultural Appropriation Goes Wrong In India

Now, before rolling your eyes at calling out the Pound, let us remember that aside from the Indian culture, these dances involving sticks have existed within POC communities for a long time. Stick dancing was common among African-American slaves working on American plantations. It was inspired by the Egyptian form of stick dancing known as Tahtib, originally used in martial arts before it morphed into a kind of folk dance.

The African traditional dance in Dar es Salaam

Taiko is a form of Japanese ensemble drumming — the percussion instruments are said to have originated from China and Korea.

San Jose Taiko @ Obon Festival

“There are workouts incorporating Taiko that show respect to the culture and you can see elements of Taiko in The Pound workout,” says Divya Sangam, a Singaporean Indian who lives in the United States. “This particular workout, however, does not show respect to any parent culture.”

Related: 11 of the Most Culturally Appropriated South Asian Accessories, and What they Really Mean

There are claims that the Pound was invented by two female drummers. Do you see what I am getting at? Invented — not inspired. Air drumming, much like air guitar, has been around for quite a while. There was even a movie about it in 2010!

Dear White People: we have seen enough of your revolutionary Hot Yogas and Namaslays to know when something just isn’t right. This is so blatant it is amusing.

Who doesn’t like a good music and dance fusion experience? They unite the world. But be honest, aware and appreciative of what you incorporate. Am I asking you to appreciate your matcha latte with reverence? No; that has been diluted even within the Asian cultures where it originated. Are we asking you to host the next Dandiya Raas? Oh God, no! You have, however, been picking and choosing whatever suits your fancy from POC cultures to add vibrance to your white existence for as long as we can remember.

What we would like? Is a little bit of respect.


Aarti Olivia Dubey is a first generation Southasian Singaporean. She is a plus size fashion blogger, body positive advocate and feminist. She holds a Masters in Psychotherapy with a focus on contemplative psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Having struggled with body image for years, she decided to make changes for the better when she turned 30. The experiences she had growing up as a Southasian have led her to the path of instilling female empowerment. She writes with honesty and vulnerability, with a good dose of humour. Aarti endeavours to remind people that style is sizeless and there is no shame in the size, race, gender, life you live. Her life on this tiny island in Asia is a challenge thanks to cultural body stereotypes and she is chipping away at those moulds one day at a time. Being a socially awkward introvert, she prefers to put her thoughts into writing while observing the world. She loves animals to a fault and is a happy fur-mommy to 3 dogs and 2 cats.

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