Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most famous and popular tourist destinations in India. The state is referred to as the "Paradise on Earth" and out of the state`s total population, a major portion lives in the villages. The villages of Jammu and Kashmir are colourful and picturesque and their wonderful scenic beauty attracts numerous tourists every year. The people in the villages live in unity and there is a great harmony found in all sphere of the village society in Jammu and Kashmir.
The residents in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir follow various religious philosophies and also speak different languages. The three major religious communities living in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir include Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. The Muslims are in majority in the Kashmir region whereas Hinduism is the principal religion in the Jammu region. In the Ladakh region of the state, the major religious community is the Buddhists. Apart from these three religions, there is also a group of people known as Dogras. They mainly live in the villages of Jammu and follow Hinduism. However, a few of them also follow Islam. Urdu is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, as it is spoken by most people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides Urdu, the other languages spoken in the villages include Kashmiri, Ladakhi and Dogri. Dogri is actually the language of Dogra group of people and it was accepted as a national language of India in 2003.
The villages of Jammu and Kashmir have an impressive educational scenario. The state governmental authorities have established many schools at the primary and secondary levels in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. The children begin their educational career from the village primary schools and then pursue higher education in the colleges and universities, mostly located in the urban areas of the state. Though the literacy rate is impressive, the governmental authorities have taken several initiatives to further improve the educational status.
Agriculture is the principal occupation in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of the total population of the state is engaged in agricultural activities and they cultivate many crops throughout the year. The major crops cultivated in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir include Rice, Wheat, Maize, Tobacco, Rape seed, mustard, linseed, toria, cotton seed, Pulses, Saffron, Amarnath (Ganhar), etc. The villagers in the state also produce the fruits like apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, pomegranates, mulberry, peaches, apricots, walnuts, almonds, etc. in good quantity. The valley of Kashmir is quite famous for the cultivation of potatoes, turnips, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflowers, radish, onions, lotus-stalk, brinjal, gourd and bitter gourd etc. as well. Among all the crops cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir, Saffron is undoubtedly the most important one. Kashmir is one of the very few places in the world where Saffron is cultivated and the Kashmiri saffron is world famous for its great quality.
Tourism is another major occupation of people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. As the state is world famous for its pictorial locations and great scenic beauty, many people are involved with the tourism sector to earn their livelihoods. The people work as tourist guides, run different types of business in the popular tourist spots and also provide lodging facilities to the tourists. Apart from agriculture and tourism, handicrafts and textiles are the other major occupations of people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. The villagers produce numerous unique and extraordinary arts and crafts items like Carpets, Namdas, Papier Mache, Chain Stitch and Crewel Furnishings, Silks, Tweeks, Pherans, Shawls, Basketry, Walnut Wood, Copper, Silverware, etc. Many people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir are also involved with the industries like Minerals, Gems and Jewellery, Floriculture, Horticulture, Electronic industry, etc.
The villages of Jammu and Kashmir are quite famous all over India and also in abroad for their diverse culture. The villages in the three regions of the state like Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have different culture and traditions and each of them are rich in their own way. Though the people follow different customs, all of them have love, affection and tolerance in common. The simplicity of the Kashmiri people is the most unique feature of their lifestyle. All the people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir celebrate various religious and social fairs and festivals together, no matter which religious path they follow. The major religious festivals of the state include Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Navaratri, Ramnavami, Maha Shivratri, Basant Panchami, Buddha Purnima, etc.
Apart from the religious festivals, there are also many social and cultural festivals celebrated in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. These fairs and festivals include Lohri, Purmandal Mela, Bahu Mela, Chaitre Chandesh, Sindhu Darshan, The Ladakh Festival, Jhiri Mela, Hemis Festival, Amarnath Yatra, Mansar Food and Craft Mela, Spitok Gutor Zanskar, Dosmochey, Matho Nagrang, Stok Guru Tsechu, Phyang Tsedup, Yuru Kabgyat, Ph-Yang Tsedup, Korzok Gustor, Dak-Thok Tse-Chu, Shachukul Gustor, Thiksay Gustor, Chemrey Angchok, Galdan Namchot, etc. The people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir also enjoy various winter sports.
During the religious and social festivals, the people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir love to wear their traditional attires and also perform various traditional music and dance. The males wear the clothes like Kurta Pyjama in summers and woolen clothes in winters. They wear a kind of an overcoat called Pheran over Kurta. Most women in the villages wear Salwar Kamiz and Burqha (veil) in both summers and winters. They also wear Pheran during winters. Apart from wearing the traditional attires, the people in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir also perform various traditional music, dance and theatre forms that include Kud, Heren, Fumenie and Jagarana, Bakh/Gwatri/Kark/Masade, Gwatri, Karak, Benthe, Bhand Pather, Chakri, Sufiana Music, Marriage songs and dance (wedding dance), Jabro, Alley Yate, etc.
The villages of Jammu and Kashmir have a varied, diversified and unique cultural blend that has made the state distinct from the rest of the country. The multifaceted ethical and social entities living in the villages of the state rightly represent the real essence of India, "unity in diversity". The different cultural forms found in the villages of Jammu and Kashmir like fair and festivals, rites and rituals, art and architecture, language and mountains, seer and sagas, etc. are indeed a great treat for the tourists.