The newly- formed state of India, Uttarakhand
is noted for its scenic beauty. The snowclad peaks of Himalayas, myriad lakes, lush greenery ennobles the cultural heritage of the region. Glaciers in Uttarakhand feast the rivers like Ganga
National Parks and forests thrive in this area. Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India. Others like Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park are praiseworthy. The pristine hill station, Nainital, is favored by myriads of the visitors for its spectacular scenery and beauty. It is a home for temples and places of pilgrimage. Char-dhams is one of the hallowed Hindu temples. The region is also a holy abode. Famous shrines like Badrinath
, Kedarnath, Yamunotri
and Gangotri enhances the spiritual glory. Thus an amalgamation of religious customs, richness of wildlife heritage, exotic mountains makes Uttarakhand a perfect representation of Indian cultural tradition. The culture of Uttarakhand, is curbed out by its wealth of music and dance. Festival, cuisine and lifestyles too have largely contributed in its enrichment.
In celebrating the festivals in high vigor and enthusiasm, the people of Uttar Pradesh
have added certain social and cultural rites, thus ennobling its vivacity and ebullience. The culture of Uttarakhand thus has a plethora of festivals to be celebrated. The Uttarakhandis grab every opportunity to celebrate almost all the festivals of India in the same way as the rest of Indian states do. Women especially participate in this gaga of the festivals: fasting, cuing the festival processions, cooking foods etc stimulates the excitement of the festive seasons. Holi, Diwali, Navratri, Christmas, Durgotsav are the time of gala celebrations for the people of this region. A few local festivals are feted, typifying the customs and practices of the localites. Basant Panchami, Bhitauli, Harela, Phooldei, Batsavitri, Ganga Dusshera, Dikar Puja, Olgi or Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Ghuian Ekadashi and Ghughutia are some of the major festivals of Uttaranchal.
Harela is particularly a Kumaoni festival. It is held on the first day of the month of `Shravana` symbolizing the arrival of monsoons.
Bhitauli is a festival of sharing gifts from the brothers to their sisters. This is feted in the month of `Chaitra. On the first day of the same month, Phool Dei is observed by the lasses who roam from door to door of all the village households. Along with them they carry plates full of rice, jaggery, coconut, green leaves and flowers.
Olgia is feted on the first day of `Bhado` symbolizing rich harvest and productivity. The agriculturists and artisans give presents to the owners of their land and purchasers of their tools and receive gifts and money in return.
This festival is celebrated on the `Krishna amavasya` of the month of `Jyestha` .On the day married females rever Savitri and the Bat or banyan tree for the welfare of their husbands.
Music and Dance
If the music and dance styles of any region are profuse, it automatically emphasizes the rich cultural heritage. The culture of Uttarakhand is an illustrious example of this trend. Music is integrated to every nook of Uttarakand society. The aura of this mountainous region is such that it had inspired musicians to compose wonderful tunes. Mighty streams of rivers, lushness of the pine forests, rugged mountain peaks, celestial beauties of hill stations-all these became themes of numerous musicals composition. The folk music primarily is related to the various festivals, religious traditions, folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. The music of Kumaon and garhwal region is a medley of fine tunes and lyrics. Content is spiritual and it depicts conundrum of the socio- cultural scenario of the state.
`Mandals`, `panwaras` and somber `khuded`, `thadya` and `jhoda` are popular folk songs of this region. Dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora and masakbhaja are various musical instruments used during the performance.
Music has undergone changes and evolution over the years. Many musical talents have emerged from the region. Meena Rana with her golden voice presents numerous musical albums for the whole nation and can be rightly called "Lata Mangeshkar of Uttarakhand".
Also, with advancement in technology and recording gimmicks, more and more endowments have begun creating music albums. This has furthered the popularity of folk dance of Uttarakhand. Langvir Nritya is a dance for males only, performed in the manner similar to any gymnastic movements. Barada Nati folk dance is a famous dance of Dehradun
district. It is executed on the eve of some religious festivals or affairs. All the boys and girls participate in the saltation attired with colorful conventional dresses.
No region can be considered to possess a robust cultural heritage if the cuisine is not up the mark. The culture of Uttarakhand has maintained a good standard of culinary system. Uttarakhandis have developed tastes for all types of vegetarian meals. Vegetables namely cabbage, spinach, green grams, peas are highly nutritious. Uttarakhandis also consume fruits like orange, manago, peach, lichis, guavas, which in the long run help them to stay healthy.The raw ingredients are mostly available at any local Indian grocery shops. Aalu ka gutke, Kaapa, Paalak Tinri ,Gaderi ke gutke are some of the specialities of the Uttarakhandis. These items are not only sumptuous but also take minimum time for cooking. To add flavors to the Uttarakhandi meals, raitas and chutneys are voluptuously savored. Khire ka raita, Nebu mooli ka raita, Daarim ki khatai , Aam ka fajitha are worth mentioning.For every festivals and special occasions , the people of Uttarakhand put lot of efforts to prepare some tasty food dishes. Singal, Pua, Maal Pua , Besan Bhadela are the delicacies of the Uttarakhand cuisine, which the people all over the world deplete in great delight.
The culture of Uttarakhand can be comprehended without glimpsing into the people`s lifestyle. The tribes Kols, Mundas, Bhotis throng in the region and they speak Kumayani and garhwali is the main languages. Some wonderful pieces of architecture can be in forts like The Chandpur fort, Temple of Srinagar, Padukeshwar near Badrinath. Tourism industry, too, is developing as quite a number of tourists both from India and overseas throng the region. Alka hotel, Aroma Hotel, Lake Resort are renowned for its hospitality and excellent facilities thus prompting its lodgers to frequent the place time and again and explore the beauty of the region.
Being the hub of Vedas
and other Hindu Shastrs , the people had got high propensity towards education and learning. It is abode to the most erstwhile engineering college of India, namely the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee. Other premier universities of the region are the G. B. Pant University in Pantnagar, Kumaun University in Nainital and Almora. It is also a storehouse of art and crafts. Expert crafts men of the region have produced exuberant art pieces thus capturing the world market within a short span of time. The Garhwal School of painting is also famous worldwide and these include instances of Ramayana, series of Radha -Krishna love paintings etc.
Although a baby in comparison to its date of formation, the rich state of Uttarakhand can stand at par with other Indian states in terms of its excellent cultural heritage and tradition.