The northeastern state of Assam is a beauty to behold. The state has lush green forests to cascading rivers. The mountains play the game hide and seek with the plains leading an amalgamation of a truly unique region. As is its varied landforms, the state of Assam homes a number of diverse tribes of people. Assam is the highest producer of tea in the country and one of the highest producers in the world. The credit to growing this cash crop goes to the tribes that toil day and night to bring about the production. As the hard-work takes its toll, the people turn towards entertainment to bring into their lives some form of merriment.
Jhumur – The Clanging Echoes Of The Bells
The Jhumur Dance form is the traditional dance form of the tea cultivating tribes of Assam. Other than Assam, the dance is also seen to be performed in the adjacent state of West Bengal as well. It is usually performed during the autumn season and doesn’t have much wide-scale propagation. The dance is believed to have been originated in Bangladesh and hence its effects are seen in the eastern states of India like Jharkhand and Orissa as well.
The Jhumur dance got its name from the cluster of anklets that contain bells worn by the dancers while performing this dance. The bells make a clanging noise which goes along with the beat and rhythm of the music for the dance. The Jhumur dance is multifaceted and is performed for several purposes. It is sometimes the mean for worshipping their Gods and Goddesses. While at other times the Jhumur dance is a way of courting or lovemaking. It is also believed among the local people as the dance that could bring rain which is one of the major aspects required for the tea plantation. And eventually, it is also a source of entertainment for these people.
The songs for the dance have strong dialogues that depict a variety of aspects of the common people’s life. it shows the joy and sorrow of these tribal people. It was the single source of entertainment among the long stretches of tedious agricultural works in fields. The people dance to the rhythm of their yearnings and aspirations which the songs beautifully describe. The Jhumur dance is also performed as a mean of thanksgiving for the monsoon. The lyrics of the songs are in their native language and define the day to day chores along with the emotional upheaval in the life of man.
The dance is performed in the open fields or wide playgrounds where space is large. Men and women dance to the occasion of harvesting. Some of the community festivals also show the performance of the Jhumur dance. The men and women wear long traditional costumes and dress their best while dancing. Main dancing is done by the women who hold each other’s waist and move about forward and backward swaying their hands and legs to the synchrony of the music. The men usually provide the beat using several musical instruments like drum, flute, and taal. The music is very primitive and doesn’t display much pomp and show.
Just like the lives of these tea tribe’s people, their customs are very simple and non-complex. The dance is also a reflection of this. It shows the closeness of the people to their land and how they appreciate every small thing that Mother Nature provides them. It may not be grand but there is a sense of relief and soulfulness in this dance. Seeing these beautiful people swaying to the music that connects their spirits is just something else and definitely not something that people get to see every now and then.
Featured Image Jhumur dance performances during Tusu Puja at Maijan, Dibrugarh. by under CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikipedia