Uttarakhand, also known as Dev Bhoomi, has been the centre of religious and spiritual knowledge for ages. The history and culture of Uttarakhand are deeply connected with religion and celebrated everywhere. Many cultures and ethnicities coexist here with peace and harmony. Most of the state is divided into two regions named Garhwal and Kumaon. It is also home to Jaunsaries, Tibetan refugees, Bokshas, among others.
Uttarakhand has a ‘Pahari’ culture. Folk dance, music and festivals are a huge part of Uttarakhand culture. The land is blessed with the beauty of the Himalayas and ancient temples.
The typical Hindu festivals such as Diwali, Holi and Navratri are celebrated here with much zeal. Along with this, the Garhwali culture has its festivals such as:
Harela parv, phooldei, basant panchama, khichdi sankrant, ganga Dussehra.
Harela parv is celebrated in Kumaon as the first day of the monsoon. It is followed by the festival bhitauli, celebrating the seeds sown by Kumaoni women and the harvest time.
Igaas is another Garhwali festival; it is celebrated a few days after Diwali and is also known as Garhwali Diwali. The history behind igaas is that the men of Garhwali families who worked in the Army couldn’t come off duty on Diwali. So, they would go home a few days after it, and their families would celebrate Diwali all over again to celebrate their safe homecoming.
Folk dance and music
Uttarakhand religious gatherings would be incomplete without folk songs and dancing. So the people hold their culture in high regard and celebrate together.
Some of the folk songs are:
Jagars are a form of religious offering to our ancestors and their ghosts. Epics, such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, are recited. It is said the gods come down to earth and dance along with the people.
Other forms of folk music are Mangal geet that are played during wedding ceremonies.
Most Garhwali cuisine revolves around plant-based items that can be grown in the mountains. They also need nutritious food that will keep them warm during the harsh winter months.
Here are some of the famous Garhwali foods:
Urad dal ke pakode: These are the spicy pakoras made from dal with spices. It is a dish that is popular in every garhwali household. It is specially made on days of celebration such as birthdays, weddings etc.
Chainsasa: It is made with grinding black gram dal, then it is roasted along with spices before adding water. It is consumed with rice and mango pickle.
Bhang ki chutney: It is a chutney made from roasted bhang seeds with spices, cumin ginger and lemon juice. It is a sour chutney that goes with all garhwali foods.
Traditional Garhwali outfits are vibrant, made with thick materials and unique patterns.
Men wear a kurta and pyjama and a koti on top of the kurta. A Koti is a form of wool coat made in Garhwal to keep the cold winds at bay.
The women wear colourful headscarves to protect their faces from the sun, a loose shirt is worn and on top of that a colourful Koti. In addition, a Ghagra or lehenga made of wool or cotton is also worn during these events.
In Kumaoni culture, during weddings, the bride wears a red and sacred golden head covering known as the pichora.
Long ‘ naths ’ are worn by both kumaoni and Garhwali women, and they are made out of gold, red and white beads that are auspicious and celebrate the longevity of their marital life.
Garhwali women wear a necklace like the modern-day choker; it is called a ‘gul band’.
Uttarakhand is a land of many cultures and festivals. People from all over the country have settled down here and make the land richer with cultural history. It is the perfect place for anyone who wants to learn more about the Hindu religion or for the breathtaking views of the Himalayas.