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Uttarakhand Culture

Culture of Uttarakhand

Traditional Songs/Dances

Majestic Himalayan Mountains of Uttarakhand have an array of legends and activities attached to them. The state of Uttarakhand 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 Jurkiya plays the Hurka escorted by the dancer called Hurkiyari, who is usually his wife or daughter. They go to different places recounting folklores and honoring their Gods and Goddesses. Many other Kumauni dances such as Chhapeli, Chholiya and Chancheri come together as the dances of Uttarakhand. Both the Garhwal and Kumaon regions enjoy their exclusive and distinguishing dance forms which are remarkable in their innovation.

1. Jhora Dance:
The most popular dance form in Kumaon is Jhora. This dance is performed in groups where people hold hands and take three steps forward and one backward rhythmically in tune to the beats of the Hurka along with the song. It is performed at fairs to the accompaniment, of singing on various subjects like religious, social, love etc.

It is performed in most of the Kumaon region with slight variations in the way it is sung whereas the steps remain same. This particular form of the dance is known with different names in different part of Kumaon.

2. Chhapeli:
The Chhapeli is a colourful and lively dance ensemble of wooing performed by men who also play the role of women, accompanied by the Hurka and song, a traditional percussion instrument. This dance is popular in Nainital.

3. Chholiya Nritya:
The Chholia Nritya (Chholia Dance) is the manifestation of the martial tradition. Performers wielding swords and shields exhibit their skills. A Turturi, a traditional adaptation of the trumpet begins the sparring. This form of dance is also performed in Pithoragarh as Chhaliya Nritya and in Dwarhat as Sarankar with a slight difference in the way it is performed. It is performed mainly during marriages and fairs

4. Mukhauta Nritya:
Another popular traditional form of dance in Kumaon is Mukhauta Nritya (Mask Dance). Performers perform this dance with masks of animals like cow, deer etc and Lakhiya Bhoot (Ghost) on their faces.

5. Hil Jathra :

As the name suggests, this traditional form of dance is based on the theme of journey on a muddy track.

6. Hiran Chittal Nritya:
Popular mainly in Pithoragarh district, Hiran Chittal dance describes the human linkages with nature.

7. Hurkiya Baul Nritya:
Another popular form of dance is Hurkiya Baul Dance which is performed during the agricultural season.

8. Chancheri
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.

9. Bhotiya Dance
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.

10. Pandava Dance
Pandava Dance is a type Musical / Broadway kind of show based on the story of Mahabharata accompanied by dance and music. This is performed mainly during Dusshera and Diwali

Fairs & Festivals

Fairs and festivals have constantly been an essential part of the life of Indians and people of Uttarakhand are no different. The state of Uttaranchal has several fairs and temples, intrinsic to the culture of the hills. These fairs are considered very auspicious and form important trading centers for the people from different sectors of crafts to sell their works and animals, especially hill ponies. Many folk songs and dances are alive today because of these fairs doubling up as social gatherings.

There are many fairs in Uttarakhand like Ardh Kumbh Mela, Nandadevi Fair, Jauljibi & Thal Fair, Uttarayani Fair, Hatkalika Fair, Khataltua Fair, Somnath Fair and Devidhura Fair. The Somnath fair in Almora is one of the best fairs that happen in Uttaranchal which is held on the auspicious Vishuwat Sankranti day in November / December. Somnath is another name for Lord Shiva so it is a big day for his devotees. The venue for the fair is the Shiva Temple at Masi.

The Devidhura fair on the other hand is held on the day of Raksha Bandhan at the Varahi Devi temple at Devidhura. Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital form a common point of Devidhura. A strange ritual of this fair is that two groups of people throw stones at each other and defending themselves with roofs as shields. There are many other things that one will be surprised to know about so read on to find more about the fairs of Uttarakhand.

Bikhauti Fair
Uttarakhand have vivacious people celebrating life on any given occasion. Any fair or festival is a part of these celebrations surrounding the lives of ordinary people. Bikhauti Fair is celebrated on the day of Vishuwat Sankranti day commemorating an ancient victory.

Haatkalika Fair
The Haatkalika fair is held in Gangolihat, a small town in the Pithoragarh District of Uttarakhand. The fair is organized in honor of Goddess Haatkalika, a divine embodiment of Maa Kali.

Jageshwar Fair
Imagine a single fair for a cluster of almost two hundered temples. Think of a crowd of thousands of people amidst these ancient places of worship with a legend older than the temple building.

Jauljibi & Thal
Fairs and festivals are an important part of lives of the people of Uttaranchal. The fairs are a place to socialize and meet people and do business. Jauljibi and Thal are such popular fairs celebrated in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.

Haridwar Kumbh
Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every six years at the banks of the holy Ganges River in Haridwar. Millions of people gather to be part of a religious fervor and inspite of the rush still manage to have a good time.

Nanda Devi Fair
Fairs in Uttarakhand serve as a meeting point for mingling with people from other parts of the state, trade items of local produce and of course celebrate something of religious importance.

Purnagiri Fair
Purnagiri is located on the top of a hill and is 20 kms from Tanakpur. Purnagiri It is located on the right bank of the river kali. Also known as Punyagiri (meaning the mountain of good deeds), the Purnagiri temple is visited by thousands of devotees throughout the year.

Uttarayani Fair
The people of the state of Uttarakhand celebrate a number of fairs and festivals. The Uttarayani Fair is a perfect example of the highly sacred sentiments of the local residents. Of all the places, the Bageshwar temple fair attracts the largest number of people.

Traditional Songs:

There are songs for auspicious occasions known as Shakuna Akhar or the Phag songs sung by the women. They are sung during births, marriages and other special occasions.
Other traditional songs of the region are Nauyli and Holi songs. Nauyli is sung in the Jungles and Holi Songs are sung during the Holi Festival. Holi songs can be mainly categorized into 3 forms – Khadi Holi, Baithi Holi and Mahila Holi.

Traditional Art:

The traditional art of Kumaon is known as AEIPAN. This art of painting the clayware and wooden vessels with rice flour and Geru (A red coloured powder) is very popular in Kumaon. The other three forms of this art are Likhthap (Painting of walls), Barbund (on the floor at the porch area) and Vasudhara (Painting at the entrance of the House) which can be seen during the festive season and marriages.

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