Cultural Symbols || Rituals || Social Culture || Personal Culture

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The people of Uttarakhand are commonly known as 'paharis' or the people from the hills. It is a multi-ethnic populated state with Rajputs which include members of the native Garhwali, Gujjar, and Kumauni communities. Apart from this there are number of immigrants in Uttarakhand who constitute the population. Nearly one fifth of the total population are the Scheduled Castes and they are referred as Kols or Doms. The Raji community people who fall under the scheduled tribes dwell in the bordering areas of Nepal and they account for less than 5 percent of the population. Though the people of Uttarakhand come from a heterogenous ethnic background they still adhere to their unique culture and traditions. Mostly the people are from rural areas and live in slate-roofed houses, terraced fields and traditional costumes. The culture of Uttarakhand can be best expressed as comprising the following :

We have the Garhwali and also the Kumaonis living in Uttarakhand. The Bhotias, the Jaunsaries, the Tharus, the Bokshas and the Rajis are the notable ethnic group of people living in Uttarakhand. The people mainly speak Indo-Aryan language, of which Hindi is the most widely spoken and the official language of the state. Other languages prevalent in the state are Hindustani which is a mix of Hindi and Urdu, Garhwali, Kumauni, Punjabi, and Nepali. Apart from the Hindus and Muslims, the state also houses smaller communities of Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains. There is a nomadic community of Muslims seen here and they are mainly into animal husbandry.The ethnicity of the people of Uttarakhand involves a number of tribal communities both nomadic and those hailing from the Indo-Aryan descent. The people of Uttarakhand constitute various tribal groups where some of the important communities which forms the ethnicity of Uttarakhand are Proto-Australoid, Mongoloid, Nordic races and the Dravidians. Jaunsari are a group of small tribal people who are classified into two original tribal groups namely the Koltas and Khasas. These people have their own distinct way of dressing and cultural practices. In fact this is one of the very communities in the world which follow the polyandrous system where the wives can have more than one husband at a time. The Bhotias are those who live in the mountains of Himalayas and they all have more or less the same physical appearance like that of the Tibetans. The Bhotias are classified into different sub sects namely the Jadhs, the Marchas and the Shaukas where each group have their own different culture.

The culture of the people of Uttarakhand is kept in check or enriched by features like its music and dance, festivals, cuisine, arts and crafts and much more. A new dimension is given to the culture of Uttarakhand where the people here are bestowed with Land of Gods, natural diversity and the element of the Himalaya's unparalleled with its natural beauty and sanctity. Thus there are so many geo -social factors which influences the culture of the people of Uttarakhand. The religious bonds between the people is held tight by features like music, dance and arts and thus the people are in turn deep -rooted in their religion with awe inspiring Himalayas. The people of Uttarakhand never miss out on any celebration of festivals for they take the slightest possible opportunity to celebrate all the festivals of India with great enthusiasm.

Some of the national festivals celebrated by them include Holi, Diwali, Navratri, Christmas and Durgotsav. The people here generally get very excited about festivals and they take an active participation in it by fasting, joining the festival processions, cooking food, etc. Some of the festivals pertaining to the people of Uttarakhand during which their distinct customs and traditions are followed includes Basant Panchami, Bhitauli, Harela, Phooldei, Batsavitri, Ganga Dusshera, Dikar Puja, Olgi or Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Ghuian Ekadashi and Ghughutia. At the time of monsoon and on the first day of the month of `Shravana` a Kumaoni festival known as Harela is celebrated with great pomp and religious fervor. The love between a brother and a sister is shared by exchanging of gifts between them on the festival of Bhitauli and this is celebrated in the month of Chaitra.

The people of Uttarakhand follow the ancestor spirit worship. They believe that by doing this kind of worship they wake up the Gods and the local deities from their inactive stage to solve their problems and shower their blessings. It is a traditional belief that that by doing this they get divine justice. On such occasions music plays a major role and act as a medium to invoke the Gods. The singer or Jagariya sings a ballad of the gods with allusions to the great epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana and which describes the adventures and exploits of the god being invoked. This is a very common custom prevalent among most of the Hindu people in Uttarakhand. The people are deep rooted in religious faiths and superstitions for any good thing they do, they depend on the astrological forecast of the Brahmins for its auspiciousness. They follow age old customs and traditions for all social functions like new birth, marriage, death, etc. Shiva and Durga are the most important Gods of the people of Uttarakhand and many fairs and festivals are held in regard with the above mentioned Gods. People believe in ghosts, witches, etc., and tantra-mantra are used to cure disease and prevent calamities. Tantra-Mantra plays an important role in some customs which are executed at the places called 'Shiddhpith' and on the confluence of two rivers. At such times they sacrifice buffalos, goats and sheep to please the God or Goddess.

The ghagra choli is a unique costume of most of the states in North India which also includes Uttarakhand. This is a long skirt with a narrow waist that looks like an umbrella at the base. These skirts along with the top are called as Ghaghara choli which comes in vibrant colours and decorated with glittering mirrors. Usually the length of the skirt stops much before the ankle so that the accessory worn in the leg is visible. Ghaghra-Pichora is the traditional bridal attire where Ghaghara is the long skirt and Pichora is a Kumaoni veil or Rangwali, endowed with gold and silver tatting. The married women in Uttarkhand have sindoori smeared on their forehead and also a black beaded necklace. Hansuli is another ornament of status which is worn in gold by the rich and in silver by the poor. Muslin veils or Rangwalis which are in shades of yellow are part of Uttarakhand costume designing. The men of Uttarkhand usually wear dhoti or a pyjama as the lower garment and a kurta as the upper attire. The men love to present themselves with headgear, or turban, a part of their traditional costume.

Uttarakhand cuisine
-The people of Uttarakhand living in higher villages are deprived of fresh vegetables and fruit and also wheat or rice. They generally eat grain such as mandua and barley which becomes their staple food. They drink plenty of locally brewed liquor to bear the chillness. However people living in lowland are very much exposed to vegetables and grains like wheat, rice and lentils. They eat spicy food. Some of the popular dishes of the people include dish of black gram dal, ras (a mixture of dals), thick gravy with potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables, a spinach dish, and local breads such as chapattis, mandua ki roti and gahat ke paranthe. Chutneys made from sesame seeds, hemp seeds and other local ingredients help perk up meals. Popular sweets include the famous baal mithai of Almora and singhodi, made from desiccated coconut and khoya.

Uttarakhand Agriculture
The main occupation of the people of Uttarakhand is agriculture and there are no manufacturing industries. Tourism is another mode of economy to the people.

Mohan Upreti -Literature,theater,music.

Gaura Pant Shivani -Literature,theater,music.

Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari- National service,sports.

Havaldar Gajender Singh-, Ashoka Chakra winner, National service,sports.