The villages of Uttar Pradesh hold key for the economical, agricultural and industrial strength of the state. Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in India and a major portion of the state`s total population lives in the villages. The villages of Uttar Pradesh are a kaleidoscope of diverse religions and cultures and have a dramatic landscape. The villages are located on the lap of the soaring peaks, or near the coniferous forests or along the flat Indo-Gangetic Plains. Some villages are located near the Vindhya Hills, in the southeast part of the state. The rich tradition and cultural diversity of the villages of Uttar Pradesh are unique and hence, it attracts numerous tourists from all over the country.
The villages of Uttar Pradesh are the ancient cradles of Indian culture as their history dates back to as early as the Stone Age and Harappan era. The villages also have mythological importance, as they are believed to be the area of activity of the great religious characters like Krishna, Rama, Buddha, etc. This rich cultural heritage is one of the most attractive features of village life in Uttar Pradesh.
The major religious communities living in the villages of Uttar Pradesh include the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, etc. All the communities have their own customs and culture and they also celebrate different fairs and festivals throughout the year. The villagers speak in different languages out of which, Hindi and Urdu are the two most widely spoken ones. Hindi and Urdu are also the two official languages of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from these two, the villagers in Uttar Pradesh also speak many native languages that include Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Braj Bhasha, Bundeli, Kannauji, Khariboli, etc. Most of these native languages are considered the dialects of Hindi by the common populace.
There are many governmental primary schools established in the villages of Uttar Pradesh to provide primary education to the villagers. The educational status of the villages is good and the number of school going children in the villages is also impressive. The students have the scope of pursuing higher education in the colleges and universities, mostly located in the urban areas. However, the governmental authorities are establishing new educational institutions in the villages, as more steps are required to be taken to further improve the educational scenario.
Like most villages in the other parts of India, agriculture is the mainstay in the villages of Uttar Pradesh also. A majority of the villagers in Uttar Pradesh is engaged with agricultural activities to earn their livelihoods. Different types of crops are cultivated in the villages of Uttar Pradesh round the year. Uttar Pradesh is one of the top most producers of food grains, sugarcane and potatoes in India. Besides these, the other major crops cultivated in the villages include the oilseeds, wheat, paddy, maize, mustard, pulses, rice, barley, etc. Apart from agriculture, the industries like sugar production, handloom, cotton and woolen textiles, leather and footwear, distilleries & breweries, etc. provide employment to the villagers in Uttar Pradesh as well. The villages of Uttar Pradesh are also rich in major minerals like limestone, dolomite, copper, gypsum, glass, sand, marble, fireclay, coal, phosphorite, etc.
The villages of Uttar Pradesh are rich in art and crafts. The villagers are expert in making various handicraft products that are famous all over India and also in abroad. The traditional handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh include textiles, metal ware, woodwork, ceramics, stonework, dolls, leather products, ivory articles, articles made of horns, bone, cane and bamboo, perfume, musical instruments, etc. The villages located in the districts of Varanasi, Aamgarh, Maunath Bhanjan, Ghazipur, Meerut, Muradabad, Agra, etc. are most famous for producing these cottage crafts. Apart from these, carpets made in the villages of Bhadohi and Mirzapur have gained worldwide popularity. The silks and brocades of Varanasi, ornamental brassware from Muradabad, chickan (a type of embroidery) work from Lucknow, ebony work from Nagina, glassware from Firozabad and carved woodwork from Saharanpur, etc. are the other famous handicraft products. The villagers are also engaged in pottery and they make colourful dishes, pitchers, flower bowls, etc. The other important art and craft products produced in the villages of Uttar Pradesh include the leather crafts, Jari work, Surma, Jhumka, bangles, glass accessories, oriental perfumes, ceramics pottery, cloth work and embroidery work on silk and cotton, brass artifacts, wood flutes and wood chappal (Khadaoo), Banarasi saris and silk, etc.
The people in the villages of Uttar Pradesh celebrate various fairs and festivals round the year. The festivals can be classified according to different religions like the Hindu festivals, the Muslim festivals, the Christian festivals, the Buddhist festivals, etc. The major Hindu festivals celebrated in the villages of Uttar Pradesh include the Sheetla Ashtami, Raksha Bandhan, Vaishakhi Purnima, Ganga Dashahara, Nag Panchami, Krishna Janmashtami, Ram Navami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Vijaya Dashmi, Deepawali, Kartik Purnima, Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Shivaratri, Holi, etc. The Muslims celebrate their major festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Moharram, Barawafat, Shab-e-Barat, etc. in the villages of Uttar Pradesh. The major Christian festivals include New Years Day, Good-Friday, Easter, Christmas, etc. and the most prominent festival of the Buddhists is Buddha Purnima. The Sikhs celebrate the festivals like the birthday of Guru Nanak, Martyr`s day of Guru Teg Bahadur and Vaishakhi in the villages of Uttar Pradesh. Mahavir Jayanti is the principal religious festival celebrated by the Jains in the villages of Uttar Pradesh. The Kumbh and the Ardh Kumbh Mela are the two most popular festivals in Uttar Pradesh.
Dance and music have always been an integral part of the village society in Uttar Pradesh. The villages were a major centre for musical innovation during the eras of Guptas and Harsh Vardhan and they continued to be so in the medieval period as well. The most popular forms of folk music, dance and theatre include Rasiya, Khayal, Naqal (mimicry), Nautanki, Qawwali, Ramlila, Raslila, Swang, etc. The villagers also wear their traditional dresses during the festivals. The traditional dresses include draped garments like Sari for women and dhoti or lungi for men and the stitched clothes like salwar kameez for women and kurta-pyjama for men.
The rich tradition, cultural diversity and heritage are the most important and attractive features of society in the villages of Uttar Pradesh. Many people from different parts of India and abroad visit the villages for their richness in arts and crafts. The handicraft products produced in the villages have earned popularity in national and international markets. The mythological connection of the villages is another thing that attracts many tourists. The villages of Uttar Pradesh play a major role to the tourism sector of the state by attracting numerous tourists every year.