The culture of a place depends upon its inhabitants, environment and its heritage. Uttarakhand has all the things in abundance. In fact, it has every thing that any tourist could want. The most significant donor for giving mass appeal to tourism in Uttaranchal is the state’s rich culture, an excellent intermingling of exoticism as well as the way of life. Frequently thought-out to be the belt of Hindu culture, the Uttaranchal’s culture is beyond doubt one of the most vital tourist attractions of Uttaranchal.
The highlights of the Uttaranchali culture should be its history, people, religion and dances. All of them are a beautiful amalgamation of different influences from all the races and dynasties it has been ruled by. Its history is chequered in comparison to the arts culture but still interesting enough to hold a person’s consideration. Its dances are connected to life and human existence and exhibit myriad human emotions. Any trip to this tranquil will be incomplete unless you explore the wonderful culture and lifestyle of the local people.
Majestic Himalayan Mountains of Uttarakhand have an array of legends and activities attached to them. The state of Uttaranchal has a rich tradition of performing arts and especially dances. Nearly all of the performing arts are tremendously popular in the Garhwal region of the state. In the Kumaon region, however, people are fond of music, folk dance, and songs accompanied by local musical instruments like Murli, Bina, and Hurka.
The Barada Nati folk dance is a popular dance of the Jaunsar Bhawar area of Chakrata Tehsil in Dehradun district. The folk dance is performed on the eve of some religious festivals or on the occasion of some social functions. Both boys and girls take part in the dance dressed in colourful traditional costumes.
The Bhotiya Dance is performed by the Bhotias tribe and is connected with death ceremonies. It is believed by the tribal people that the soul of the dead person resides in the body of a goat or sheep and by dancing this way the soul can be liberated for their next birth.
This is a group dance of Danpur Patti region of Bageshwar District in Kumaon. Both men and women dance in a semi-circular formation with gradually increasing pace putting across unbridled joy.
Chhapeli dance is performed by couples with the female carrying a mirror in her left hand and a colored handkerchief in the other. The male plays a Hudukka on his left shoulder accompanied by others playing the Hurka, Manjira and Flute. The dance is a duet that outlines the joys of romance. The woman partner (sometimes also a young boy) dances with a smile and elegant waist movements, either in admiration of her beauty and charm or mocking her ways of expressing love.
Choliya Dance - Folk Dances of Kumaon
Dating back to over a thousand years, the Chholiya Dance has its origins in
the warring Khasiya Kingdom of Khasdesh, when marriages were performed at the
point of the swords. They were united by the Chand kings who arrived' on the scene
in the 10th century. In Nepal, the word Khasa is still asynonym for Kashatrya, and in
Khasdesh, too, they took on the customs of the Rajputs, who were themselves honorary Kashatryas.
Keeping the old tradition alive, the Rajputs dance this at their weddings as a part of the marriage procession itself, led by the male dancers who go on dancing till they reach the bride's house. Performed by the Rajputs with sword and shield in pairs, the drummers are usually Harijans called Dholies, while the Turi and Ransing are played by Bairagis, Jogis or Gosains. The Turi and Ransing are typical Kumaon instruments. Perfectly synchronized, and marked with jumps and turns of the body, the dancers show several sword-fighting feats. Attired in the material costumes of ancient warriors, the flashing swords and shields, along with the war-like music, huge red flag with various animal symbols stuck on it conveys fear, joy, awe and wonder, through eyes, and shoulders, creating at the same time, the impression of group advancing for an attack.
Jagars - Folk Dances of Kumaon and Garhwal
Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spiritual worship, in the form of a folk song or at times combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and are sung in .honour of the various gods and goddesses.
Arts and Crafts
The northern Indian state of Uttarakhand is also an excellent hub to witness some of the finest items of art and craft. The variety of these items is a testimony to the state’s rich cultural traditions. While on a tour to the cities and towns of Uttarakhand, you can also plan to have a peek into the exemplary craftsmanship, which one of the key features of the state. By exploring these art and craft items, you’ll be able to experience the artistic inclination of the people of the state.
As mentioned above, Uttarakhand has numerous temples where you can explore the artistry in wood carvings. The Devalgarh Temple, The Temple of Srinagar-Garhwal and the Devi Madin are some of the prominent places where you can see some excellent examples of wood carvings.
Paintings in Uttarakhand :The Art Practiced in Repose
Being rich in natural beauty, the cities and towns of Uttarakhand has been inspiring generations after generations. The rolling hills, dense forests, sky hugging peaks and the rich flora and fauna are just the right ingredients to inspire an artist. That’s why, you can also see some of best works of paintings in the state. The Garhwal School of Painting is a must-visit for everyone.
Anyone that has an eye for aesthetic beauty likes to explore the exemplary architecture of the temples of Uttarakhand. Kings and queens of the state supported many forms of art and craft temple architecture being one of them. There are temples almost in every corner of the state. So, you’ll have some quality time to spend exploring the rich temple architecture.
While visiting the various temples of Uttarakhand, you can also check out the wonderful murals inside. Murals, in the form of wall paintings or Aipan, are a window to the cultural richness of the state. Murals also have a lot of religious significance.
Folk Songs of Uttarakhand
Folk Songs of Uttarakhand had its root in the lap of nature. It has seen various phases of growth and has undergone lots of transformation during the course of time. It speaks about various festivals, religious traditions, folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. Bajuband, Basanti, Chhopati, Chhura, Chounphula and Jhumeila, Jagars, Khuded, Mangal, Puja Folk Songs are some of the folk songs sung in Uttarakhand.
This is a folk song of love and sacrifice between the shepherds. It is a love dialogue between the man and woman or between a boy and girl which is sung in the form of a folk song
‘Basanti’ folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers bloom and new life spring in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song is sung individually or in groups.
‘Chhura’ folk songs are sung among shepherds in the form of advice given by the old to youngsters, having learnt it out of their experience, particularly in grazing sheep and goats.
These are the folk songs popular in Rawain-Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal. ‘Chhopati’ are the love songs sung between the men and women in the form of questions and answers.
Puja Folk Songs
These songs are connected with the Puja (worship) of family deities. There are other Puja songs connected with ‘Tantra’ and ‘Mantras ‘ to exorcise evil spirits from human beings.