Culture of Uttarakhand - Traditions, Festivals and More

Uttarakhand is known for its beautiful Garhwali and Kumaoni culture. The various traditions, religions, fairs, festivals, folk dances, music are what distinctly separate them. 

Garhwali Culture

Garhwali is the main language spoken here that has a number of dialects too including Jaunsari, Marchi, Jadhi and Sailani. Garhwal is inhabited by people belonging to a number of ethnic groups and castes. These include Rajputs who are believed to belong to the Aryan origin, Brahmins who migrated after the Rajputs or later, tribals of Garhwal who stay in the Northern tracts and comprise of Jaunsaris, Jadhs, Marchas and Van Gujars. 

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Kumaoni Culture

The people of Kumaon speak 13 dialects including Kumaiya, Gangola, Soryali, Sirali, Askoti, Danpuriya, Johari, Chaugarkhyali, Majh Kumaiya, Khasparjia, Pachhai and Rauchaubhaisi. This group of languages is known as the group of Central Pahari languages. Kumaon is also rich in its folk literature which comprises myths, heroes, heroines, bravery, Gods, Goddesses and the characters drawn from Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The most popular dance form of Kumaon is known as Chhalaria and it is related to the martial traditions of the region. All the festivals are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and witness such traditional dance forms even today.
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Festivals of Uttarakhand

  • Kumaoni Holi is celebrated in three forms namely Baithki Holi, Khari Holi and Mahila Holi. The unique feature about this festival is that it is celebrated with a lot of music. 
  • Harela is a festival that marks the beginning of the rainy season or monsoon. The people belonging to the Kumaon community celebrate this festival during the month of Shravana, i.e., July-August. This festival is followed by Bhitauli, which is celebrated in the month of Chaitra, i.e., March - April. It revolves around agriculture where women sow seeds in the soil and by the end of the festival they reap the harvest which is called harela.
  • Jageshwar fair is carried out in the temple of Lord Shiva in Jageshwar on the fifteenth day of Baisakh month which is the period extending from late March to early April. People take a dip in the pool known as Brahma Kund as a kind of belief during the fair. 
  • Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest and the most popular festival of Uttarakhand. This mela is a 3-month long festival and takes place once in every four years rotating between Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik, i.e., only once in 12 years in any one place. 
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Folk Dance and Music of Uttarakhand

The lives of the people of Uttarakhand are filled with a lot of music and dance. Dancing is considered to form a major part of their traditions. Some of the folk dances include:
  • Barada Nati is the popular dance of Jaunsar Bhawar area in Dehradun district 
  • Langvir Nritya is an acrobatic dance form performed by the men
  • Pandav Nritya is the narration of Mahabharatha in the form of music and dance
  • Dhurang & Dhuring are popular folk dances of the bhotiya tribals.

Folk songs include:

  • Basanti is composed to welcome the spring season
  • Mangal is sung during the marriage ceremonies
  • Jagars is used during the worship of ghosts 
  • Bajuband talks about the love and sacrifice of the shepherds,
  • Khuded talks about the suffering of a woman who gets separated from her husband
  • Chhura talks about the experience of the shepherds and the advice passed on by them to the younger generation.
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Food Of Uttrakhand

The food of Uttarakhand is dominated by Garhwali cuisine and Kumaoni cuisine, two of its main regions. The dishes are simple and locally grown without being dominated by complex spices. Some of the most famous dishes of Uttarakhand are cooked over a slow fire and consists of lentils. Some of the most delicious mouth-watering specialities of Uttarakhand include-
  • Urad Dal ke pakode which are spicy pakoras prepared from different pulses.
  • Phanu made from dals
  • Jhangore ki kheer which is a sweet dish prepared with Jhangora.
  • Chainsoo which is made from black gram dal.
  • Bhang ki chutney which is a sour-tasting chutney prepared from roasted bhang and cumin seeds mixed with lemon juice.
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Traditional Dresses Of Uttarakhand

Residents of Garhwal Hills have their own pattern of wearing clothes due to the cold weather of the place as a result of which, wool obtained from sheep or goat is used to prepare woollen clothes.

Traditional Dress Of Men

Almost everyone follows a similar dressing style. The most commonly worn lower garment is either a Dhoti or a Lungi. Various coloured Kurtas are worn as the upper garment. In addition, headgear or a turban is a must add-on to complete this traditional costume. Kurta-Pyjama is another very famous alternative for the men of Uttarakhand. Women, as well as men, wear woollen jackets as well as sweaters in the winter season.

Traditional Dress Of Women

Ghagri is a long skirt that is worn by mostly all the women of Uttarakhand. It is complemented with a beautiful coloured Choli which is an Indian blouse and a cloth covering the head i.e., an Orni. This Orni is generally fixed firmly to the waist. This is the traditional dress of the women of both Garhwalis as well as Kumaonis. Ghagra-Pichora is the traditional bridal costume of the Kumaoni women which is similar to the Ghagra Lehenga-Choli. Pichora is a Kumaoni covering (more like a veil) that is decorated with gold and silver embroidery.
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Uttarakhand is thus a hub of different traditions, ethnic groups and languages brought together. This is what brings out the beauty of the state. Do plan a visit to the wondrous state and we are sure each one of you is likely to have an amazing time.

This post was published by Saumya Bansal

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