Published July 11, 2012 | 7:52 pm
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 – 14:52
They bear no grudge against newer steps and rhythms but strongly feel that since their dance has withstood the ravages of time, it is meant to live on.
The group which belongs to a non-descript village Jhottean Wali in Fazilka area of Indian Punjab, was founded by Baba Pokhar Singh. Pokhar Singh originally hailed form West Punjab and settled in this village after the partition.
Jhummar is believed to have originated in Baluchistan and later spread to West Punjab. But after the partition, it gradually began to fade away .
Traditionally it was a folk dance of the people of baars-uncultivated forest lands that lay between the rivers of western Punjab, whose inhabitants were called junglis. Its stronghold has, however been in the region of Ravi Baar and Sandal Baar, the area that falls between Ravi and Chenab rivers.
These regions were inhabited by animal rearing people. who would perform jhummar after the day's toil under the moonlit sky.
Performed exclusively by men in a circle, the three generations-father, son and grandson-would dance together, around a single drummer standing in the centre.
Though the costumes worn during this dance are similar to the bhangra dress, the dance is without acrobatics.The only instruments used are dhol or algozas , though the jhummar dancers shishkar shee…shee, in time to beat , adding dimension.Although this is a 'men only' dance , the tenderness of feminine expressions, including gestures are not lost.The taals and boliyans-reflections of daily life-are distinctive.One can't miss the Ravi accent.
Jhummar is closely related to the ghoomar dance of Rajasthan, the only difference being the ghoomar is performed only by women.
Among the numerous Rai Sikhs migrants, who settled in the Fazilka area of Ferozepur district, the Pokhar clan was the only one to have kept the jhummar alive in Indian Punjab.
His disciples and children have formed Raavi Lok Rang Manch for preserving jhummar.
Manch president Joginder Singh, who is a government teacher besides being a jhummar artiste, says Baba Pokhar dedicated his life to this traditional art form, which he learnt at the age of 13. Baba Pokhar had received gold medals and various awards from respective Prime Minsiters of India for keeping the folk art alive.
Baba Pokhar, who is now called Baba Bohar of jhummar was a moving workshop of the dance form and went on performing up till the age of 87 years, when he passed away in 2002.He was also awarded Sangeet Natak academy award.
Bhangra has overshadowed this folk dance of joint Punjab, but as Baba Pokhar used to say,' popularity at the cost of originality cannot be accepted', Jhummar is now regarded as a separate item from bhangra and is performed during the youth festivals in Punjab colleges.
What is commendable is is the fact that jhummar artistes have not succumbed to the western influence, which has adulterated many traditional dance forms in India and Pakistan.
Technology may have brought about a revolution in the cultural inputs and lack of efforts on parts of successive governments and cultural organizations to promote original dances has accelerating the process of decay, jhummar has kept its place.