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Culture Garhwal Kumaon >>
Culture Travel Garhwal Kumaon, Uttaranchal
The culture of the present
Kumaon is a blend of influences from the indigenous population as well as from
the immigrants to this region. Consequently, the myths, dialects, languages,
folk literature, festivals, fairs and forms of artistic expression are examples
of the creative influences of the different cultural groups that constitute
Every peak, lake or mountain
range is somehow or the other connected with some myth or the name of a God or
Goddess, ranging from those associated with the Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava
traditions, to local Gods like Ham, Saim, Golla, Chhurmal, Kail Bisht, Bholanath,
Gangnath, Airy and Chaumu. Temples are dedicated to the nine famous
Goddesses, other local Goddesses, Bhairava, Surya:. and Ganesh. The temples at
Jageshwar, Bageshwar, Binsar, Thalkedar, Rameshwar, Pancheshwar, Baijnath and
Gananath are devoted to Lord Shiva. The temples of Devidhura, Gangolihat,
Pumagiri, Almora, Nainital, Kot Ki Mai and Kotgari Devi are associated with the
Shakt tradition, while the region of Lohaghat - Champawat (Mount Kandeo) is
associated with Kunna Avatar. This region also has two famous Sun temples.
God & Goddesses
Folk Gods of Kumaon
- In spite of being worshippers of Lord Shiva and Shakti, the
people of Kumaon have a rich tradition of folk deity worship. The heroes of some
long - forgotten age have later on become folk gods and they give expression to
the popular beliefs of the people. Each folk god has a separate story attached
to his name and each one is remembered through some peak, temple or jagar (a
form of ritual folk poem). It is believed that Kumaon once had a tradition of
Yaksha worship. The presence of 'Naga' or snake worship is an indication of the
reverence' given to the brave. Besides worshipping the usual gods and goddesses
associated with Hinduism, the people of Kumaon have also worshipped Kul
Devatas (family gods), Gram Devatas (village gods), Naga Devatas
(snake gods), Bhumi Devatas (land gods) and Veers (the brave
heroes). The following are the important folk gods & goddesses of Kumaon.
Nanda Devi -
Nanda Devi is the Greek Goddess 'Nana', who came to the Himalaya with the
Indo - Greeks and Kushan Kings. However, the fact remains that Nanda Devi is
typically a Kumaoni goddess and most popular in the region. Referring to the
rich religious myths and lores associated with Uttaranchal.
- Bholanath is the most popular and revered folk god of Kumaon. He is said to be
an incarnation of Lord Shiva. According to legend, the Chand King, Udai Chand,
disinherited his elder son because of his bad habits and gave the Kingdom to his
younger son. After wandering for a long time the elder son came with his
pregnant wife and settled down near Almora.
- Kail Bisht is said to be a generous folk god. The temple of this flute playing
God is near Binsar. The story goes that Shrikrishna Pandey was given
false reports about a love affair between his wife and a brave Rajput shepherd
Kallu (Kail Bisht). The matter was brought before the king, who refused to have
Kail Bisht executed when he saw the impression of a trident on Kail Bisht’s
forehead and that of a Kadamb flower on his feet. However, later on Kallu was
murdered by deception.
This god is worshipped as a protector of animals particularly in the
Jhulaghat-Pancheswar region. There is a story about a man who was going to
Champawat with a Shivlinga in his turban. When he stopped to drink water he
placed his turban on the road, but he could not pick it up again. Later on
people started worshipping this spot. Bells and milk are offered in the temples
of Chaumu at Chaupakhia (Wadda, Pithoragarh), Chamdeval (Pulla, Champawat),
Pancheswar, Thathgaon (Almora), Dhamkuri, Surar and Santola (all in Nepal).
These are basically the seats of seven brothers. Chamdeval is the principal seat
Harish Chandra was a famous king of Champawat, who after his death was
worshipped as the folk god Haru. Haru's mother's name was Kainar and he is said
to be Gwall' s maternal uncle. The temples of Haru and Saim, the god of
boundaries, are generally together.
Garhwali Music -
These are the folk songs popular in the Rawain - Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal.
'Chhopati' are the love songs sung between men and women in the form of
questions and answers.
Chounphula and Jhumeila
"Chounphula and Jhumeila" are among seasonal dances, that are performed from 'Basant
Panchami' onwards to 'Sankranti' or Baisakhi'. 'Jhumeila' is sometimes mixed but
is usually restricted to women. 'Chounphula' is performed by all sections of the
community, at night, in groups, by men and women. 'Chounphula' folk songs are
composed for the appreciation of nature on various occasions. Chounpala, Jhmeila
and Daryola folk songs all derive their names from the folk dances of the same
"Basanti” folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers
bloom and new life springs in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song
is sung individually or in groups.
Puja Folk Songs
These songs are connected with the Puja (worship) of family deities. There are
other Puja songs connected with 'Tantra' and 'Mantras ' to exorcise evil spirits
from human beings.
This is a folk song of love and sacrifice among the shepherds. It is a love
dialogue between a man and woman, or, between a boy and girl.
Garhwali Dance -
This is an acrobatic dance and is performed by the men folk only. In this dance,
a long bamboo pole is fixed at a place. The dancer-acrobat climbs to the top of
this pole and then balances himself on his stomach on the top. Under the pole, a
band of musicians play the 'Dhol' and 'Damana', while the dancer rotates on the
top of the pole, performing other feats with his hands and feet. This dance is
popular in the Tehri Garhwal region.
The Barada Nati folk dance is a popular dance of the Jaunsar Bhawar area of
Chakrata Tehsil in Dehradun district. The folk dance is performed on the eve of
some religious festivals or on the occasion of some social functions. Both boys
and girls take part in the dance dressed in colourful traditional costumes.
The Pandavas Nritya, which is related to the story of the Mahabharata, has been
very popular, particularly in the Garhwal region. Pandavas Nritya is nothing but
a simple narration of the story of the Mahabharata in the form of dance and
music. It is mostly enacted on the occasion of 'Dussehra' and Diwali. Pandavas
Nritya is popular in Chamoli district and Pauri Garhwal.
Uttaranchal Travel Info. & Destinations
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