Jhumur is an age-old musical form that belongs to the western parts of West Bengal — Purulia, Bankura and South 24 Parganas as well as Jharkhand and parts of Odisha. The tradition of Jhumur is even older than Vaishnava Padabali. Jhumur songs soulfully express happiness, sorrow, love and loss of the people of these regions. This common thread of emotion makes this folk form appealing to the artists and widely popular among all sections of the society. Traditionally, the songs were sung in the local vernacular. Later, Jhumur became a vital part of local festivities like Karam, Bhadu, Tusu, Badhna and rituals, harvests and marriages. Jhumur songs are sung in rituals and essentially convey the joy, festive spirit and grievance to God on life’s tribulations. Jhumur songs have a strong rhythmic component. There are various kinds of Jhumur songs, usually named according to the time of the year they are sung in or the characteristics of the composition, dance or rhythmic pattern that they have.
From the beginning of the 19th century, Jhumur songs started gaining popularity in Kolkata and names like Bhola Moira, Anthony Phiringi, Gopal Ure and Bhavani Jhumurwali still bear testimony to the rich legacy of this traditional art form. Renowned poets like Bhabapritananda Ojha, Ramkrishna Ganguly, Binanda Singha and Jagat Kabiraj helped popularise the folk form. Lyricist Sunil Mahato included social issues like protecting rights of forest-dwellers and adverse economic conditions of the villagers into his songs.
Along with Jhumur songs, jhumur dance is also performd by community people at festivals like Badhna and Karam Parab. Women clad in colourful sarees and adorned by traditional ornaments and flowers participate in this dance. Dhamsa and Madol are generally played by men and sometimes they participate in dance also. Total 1057 Jhumur artists from Bankura, Purulia and South 24 Parganas are covered under the RCCH initiative.