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Er.Ramandeep Singh Brar


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BABA POKHAR SINGH the king of jhummar
Man who keeps Punjab's graceful Jhummar dance alive

Jhummar dance, which seems to have got lost in the sands of time, is today being revived in many areas of Punjab. The land of Punjab which has given birth to such fast paced and vigorous dances as the Bhangra, is also home to the slow and more rhythmic form of Jhummar. Though usually performed by men, it has in it the tenderness of feminine expressions involving actions of hands, arms and feet choreographed with the rhythm of the "dhol" or the drum and "bolian" or songs.

This group of dancers belong to the DAV College team in Jalalabad, a dusty town on the Indo-Pak border in Punjab. Their tutor and guide, Pokhar Singh, is one of the last surviving exponents of this traditional dance form.

After partition, most Jhummar artistes went to Pakistan and when "they" settled in Ferozpur, Pokhar and his clan were the only ones to keep Jhummar alive. Pokhar was quick to develop his natural talent and soon became an accomplished dancer.

even at age 86, his limbs might protest, but dancing has always been in his blood. Despite Bhangra's popularity, Pokhar Singh played a stellar role in not letting Jhummar disappear. While the Bhangra emerged as the dominant stage dance in post-partition Punjab because of both official patronage and constant experimentation, Pokhar's efforts have helped resurrect this soulful dance.

Popularity at the cost of originality is not acceptable and Pokhar has retained Jhummar's "bolian," the context of which is
rooted in West Punjab in Pakistan. His reputation among his pupils is that of a hard taskmaster who insists on perfection in every nuance.

Pokhar Singh's single-handed efforts have brightened the chance of reviving Jhummar. The dance is originally from Baluchistan and was spread by traders and camel drivers.

With Pokhar Singh's efforts Jhummar now figures as a separate item in university level cultural competitions, a considerable effort considering his age and the social domination of Bhangra.