The Jhumar dance is an ancient tribal folk dance from that was prevalent in various Eastern states of India like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa (Now Odisha) and West Bengal. It was initially a dance of harvest for the agricultural tribes but later became performed for entertainment in the daily lives.

It is believed that the Jhumar dance was established as a mainstream folk dance, acceptable in the upper classes of the Indian society, sometime around the eighteenth century AD; before that it was considered a performing art for the laboring, working, lower classes. The reason for this is often cited as the sudden interest of the ruling classes in the Jhumar dance and the subsequent patronization of the dancers. The organization of the Jhumar dance troupe is very unique with a leader called the ‘Rasik’ who is an experienced artist and the ‘Nachunis’. The whole group, along with the musicians, lives together and travels during any performances. The troupe performs on request in any village and for local festivals and gatherings and in return collect a sum of money as artist’s fees. The rasik teaches all other members in his group (like nachunis), the subtleties of dance and the various traditional folk songs, during their stay together.

Dance Form

The Jhumar dance of Jharkhand is performed by both men and women, by only men and only women.  The dance is graceful or energetic based on the gender. The music accompanied by the Jhumar dance is well developed and are local folk songs of Jharkhand. The dancers hold each other by locking hands between the torsos of the adjacent partners to form a circle and then dancing with deft footwork and articulate expressions. The attire of the performers is also very rich and colorful, which may also include, at times, the elements of tribal clothes like leaves and feather crowns.

Musical Instruments

Today a rich variety of musical instruments are used together with singing in a Jhumar performance. The common instruments are:

Bansuri: An Indian flute that is made out of bamboo.

Harmonium: It is an adopted Indian keyboard instrument that is originally Western. It works on an air pump.

Mahuri: It is a pair of drums that are originated in Odisha and resembles the Thai Mahori.

Dhol: It is the popular Indian double sided drum that provides bass percussion.


The Jhumar dance is the primary medium of entertainment for the rural population in several East Indian states.


There are only two forms apart from the regular Jhumar that are:

Janani Jhumar: It is a female version that is light and graceful.

Mardana Jhumar: It is a male version that is performed with weapons.

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