(Last Updated on : 14/08/2012)
Himachal Pradesh is one of the prominent states in northern India. A majority of the state's total population lives in the villages. In fact the state has one of the highest percentages of rural population. The villagers of the state love to live in peace and tranquility and are quite helpful to each other.
People from different religious communities live in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. The Hindus are the major religious community in the villages and the other major religious communities include the Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, etc. The Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis are the major Hindu communities living in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. However, there are a significant number of tribal communities live in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. The major tribal communities include the Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjar, Pangawals, Lahaula, Piral, Spitians, etc. All the tribal communities follow their respective traditions and customs and they also have their own dresses, music and dance that make them a unique lot. The Gujjars are one of the most notable tribal communities in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. The people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh speak in various languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Pahari, Dogri, Mandeali, Kangri, Kinnauri, etc.
The educational status of the villages of Himachal Pradesh is quite impressive. the highest literacy rates in these villages are quite high. The children in the villages get their first lessons from the government primary schools and then go on to pursue higher education in the colleges and universities established in the urban areas of the state. Though the educational status is quite impressive, the governmental authorities of the state are continuously taking various initiatives to further improve the status.
Agriculture is the principal occupation of a majority of people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. The topography of the state is mostly hilly and hence, the type of cultivation is terraced. A majority of the villagers fall in the category of small and marginal farmers and horticulture and vegetable cultivation is a major part of agricultural activities in the state. The major crops cultivated in the villages of Himachal Pradesh include wheat, maize, paddy, gram, sugarcane, mustard, potato, vegetables, barley, black gram, beans, lesser millets, pseudo-cereals like Buck wheat, Amaranthus, etc. Apart from agriculture, many people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh are involved in farming, during the past few decades as well.
Cottage industry is one of the major occupations of people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh. The people are involved in different types of artistic production and the handicraft produced in this state is worth appreciating. The most popular crafts produced in the villages of Himachal Pradesh include carpets, leather works, shawls, paintings, metalware, woodwork, etc. Among these, the Pashmina shawl has earned popularity all over the country. The colourful Himachali caps are also a famous art work. Dom is a tribe that lives in the hilly villages of Himachal Pradesh and is expert in manufacturing bamboo items like chairs, baskets, boxes, sofas, rack, etc. The people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh are also engaged in metalware industry and produce the items like utensils, ritualistic vessels, idols, gold, silver jewelleries, etc.
Apart from all the above mentioned occupations, the people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh are also involved in a few other occupations. Weaving, carving, chiselling, etc. are considered to be an integral part of the village life in Himachal Pradesh. The women in the villages are usually engaged in pottery and the men in carpentry. The villagers of Himachal Pradesh are also involved in the industries like handloom industry, tea industry, silk industry, minerals industry, etc. Many villagers work as labourers in the electronic, watch manufacturing units; thermometers, microscopes, hospital and laboratory equipment making industries, etc. as well.
The villages of Himachal Pradesh have rich tradition and cultural heritage. The villagers celebrate different types of religious and social fairs and festivals together, irrespective of their religion or castes. The fairs and festivals in Himachal Pradesh are popular for their colours, splendour and variety. Different types of fairs and festivals are celebrated in the villages of Himachal Pradesh including the religious fairs, cattle fairs, adventurous fairs, seasonal fairs, etc. The tribes and other people from different parts of the state, the traders, assemble together during these fairs and festivals and savour the mood of joy and merriment. The most famous fairs and festivals celebrated in the villages of Himachal Pradesh include Pori, Dussehra, Holi, Baisakhi, Halda, Lossar, Lohri, Phulaich, International Himalayan Festival, Diwali, Minjar Fair, Lavi Trade Fair, Shivratri Fair, Shoolini Mela, Mani Mahesh Chhari Yatra, Renuka Fair, Vrajeshwari fair, Jwalamukhi Fair, Naina Devi Fair, etc.
People in the villages of Himachal Pradesh wear colourful dresses and accessories during the fairs and festivals and they take the festivals as a great platform for social communication. They also perform various forms of music and dance and entreat their gods. Most people in the villages of Himachal Pradesh generally prefer folk music and their dance forms are highly varied and quite complicated. Some of the most popular and notable dance forms of Himachal Pradesh include Losar Shona Chuksam, Dangi, Gee Dance, Burah dance, Naati, Kharait, Ujagjama, Chadhgebrikar, Shunto, etc. The other popular dance forms performed are Dulshol, Dharveshi, Drodi, Dev Nritya, Rakshas Nritya, Dangi, Lasa, Nagas, etc.
The economic, educational and industrial strength of the state largely depends on the villages of Himachal Pradesh. They are also the centre of the state's cultural and traditional activities and the people in the villages are keen on preserving their rich heritage intact.