Culture, beliefs and traditions which bind the people of Uttarakhand together.
Kumaon has been an interesting region since the last two decades due to the rock paintings which have been discovered in the area. Lakhu Udiyar and Lwethaap are the most famous ones amongst them. Kumaon is said to be the point of origin of Pahari Kalam which is yet another style of painting well-known across the world. The most popular art form of Kumaon, however, is known as Aipan or Alpana. In this art form, pieces of cloth, walls and papers are all decorated with geometric figures which belong to God, Goddesses and the other natural objects of nature.
Alpana is a very important art form of Kumaon which can easily be spotted in the homes of this region. Aipan has a number of art forms including Saraswati Chowki, Nav Durga Chowki, Chamunda Hasti Chowki, Janeyu Chowki, Hasan Chowki, Acharya Chowki, Dhuli Arghya Chowki, Durga Thapa etc. Apart from worshipping Lord Shiva and Shakti, the residents of this region worship other Gods and Goddesses too including Kul Devta, Bhumi Devta, Gram Devta and Naga Devta. Some other important folk Gods worshipped include Naina Devi, Nanda Devi, Gwalla, Bholenath, Airy, Gangnath, Chaumu, Haru and Kail Bisht.
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 of 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.
Festvals of Kumaon
Harela and Bhitauli
The day when Navaratris begin, women sow seven different types of grains in a basket full of soil. These grains then germinate and turn into yellow leaves known as ‘Harela’. These leaves are then cut on the very last day (the tenth day) and are put on the head of the women. The month of Chaitra which is the period between March and April is when presents are sent by brothers to their sisters. These presents are known as Bhitauli. Harela is a festival which is celebrated so as to welcome the rainy season.
The Holi of Kumaon 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. The Baithki and Khari Holi are unique in the sense that the songs played have a different kind of texture, fun and melody to it. These songs are based on some classical ragas. During the Baithki Holi, the event begins from the temple and is accompanied by songs sung by the professional singers known as Holiyars.
The people of Kumaon are very exact about the songs which should be sung. At noon, songs based on ragas including Peelu, Sarang and Bhimpalasi are sung while in the evening songs based on ragas including Kalyan, Yaman and Shyamkalyan are sung. The Khari Holi is celebrated in rural Kumaon. People who sing songs to the musical instruments for the Khari Holi wear a white churidar pyjama and kurta.
Fair of Jageshwar
This 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. The people also worship Lord Shiva on this day.
Kumbh Ka Mela
Its origin can be traced back to the time when Gods and demons entered into a pact to work together for attaining Amrita which means immortality from the milky ocean and split it equally amongst them. However, when the pot was found, it was stolen by the demons and they ran away with it. The Gods then followed them for twelve days and twelve nights and there was a huge battle which took place between both the parties. It is said that while this battle was going on, some drops of this nectar fell in all the four places mentioned i.e., Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
Garhwal is a beautiful place marked by the tall mountains, cold weather and green valleys. People from all over the country visit the place to meditate and attain peace in a life full of so much chaos. The very ancient wood carving can be seen even today on some of the doors as well temples of Garhwal. All the places such as Ransi temple, Srinagar temple, Chandpur fort, Padukeshwar and Devalgarh temple comprise of architectural remains even today.Garhwali is the main language spoken here. Garhwali language has a number of dialects too including Jaunsari, Marchi, Jadhi and Sailani. The Garhwali language is believed to have originated from a combination of- Sauraseni Prakrit, Sanskrit and Western or Central Pahari language. Garhwal is inhabited by people belonging to a number of ethnic groups and castes. These include Rajputs who are believed to belong to 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.