These people are handsome, generally light complexioned, slightly built with black, hazel eyes, brown hair and long straight or aquiline noses. They are basically straightforward, unsophisticated, hospitable people. They are greatly attached to the hills, their native place. The land itself is beautiful with the hillsides contoured in terraced fields. The Kumaonis are orthodox and cling to their old customs.
Marriages are arranged only if horoscopes of the girl and the boy tally. On the appointed day, the bridegroom's party goes to the bride's house in a procession with the bridegroom riding a horse. This procession is accompanied by music played with the help of local musical instruments. This procession is compromise of dancers with swords in their hands and flag bearers with red white 'nishan' (symbol) and a few others carrying boxes with gifts for the bride form the barat.
The groom's party is welcomed by the bride's father at the gate of his house. The women of the house make beautiful coloured patterns (alpana) on the ground to welcome the groom. While he stands on the alpana he is showered with gifts by the bride's father. The main ceremony is performed at night when the father gives his daughter away (kanyadan) followed by saptapadi (going round the sacred fire seven times). Next morning the marriage party returns to the bridegroom's house alongwith the bride.
The birth of a son is immensely rejoiced. When the child is 6 days old a ceremony known as 'chatti' is performed. There is a big feast at night and the women of the family celebrate it by singing and dancing. When the child is 12 days old, a name is decided for him in accordance with his horoscope. The name is whispered into the child's ear through a conch shell by the family 'pandit' or priest and close relatives.
The sacred thread ceremony is generally held when the boy is in his teens. At the beginning and end of every ceremony conch shells are blown, bells rung and the guests put vermilion paste on each other's forehead. The death of a relative is mourned from 3 to 10 days depending on the closeness of the relationship.
The primary occupation of the people is agriculture but the holdings are small and in spite of backbreaking toil in the small terraced plots carved out of the hillside, the return from the land is meagre. As a result the natives face financial constraints. Only the forests provide work to a number of people, especially to the landless peasants. A large number of families, living nearer the plains, make both ends meet by coming down during the winter months and working in farms and forests.
Young men are always eager to be employed in the defence forces or in the government service. In order to earn something they even take up jobs outside Kumaon. As a result, only elderly people and young women and children are left in the villages and it is the women on whom the work of tending the fields falls. They have to work very hard from morning to night.
The Kumaon Regiment is one of the oldest regiments in the country and was founded in 1780. Its men fought bravely during both the world wars, a number of whom were recipients of the Victoria Cross were mentioned in dispatches and were decorated.