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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << Culture Travel >> << Culture Himachal Pradesh >>

Culture Travel Himachal Pradesh

About Religion of Himachal Pradesh

About 90% of the population of Himachal Pradesh is Hindus. There main communities are Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. The tribal population of the state comprise of the Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjars, Pangawals and Lahaulis. The Gaddis are the traditional shepherds who migrate from the alpine pastures to the lower regions during the winters. The Kinnars are the inhabitants of the Kinnaur region and practiced polyandry and polygamy. The Gujjars are nomads who rear buffalo herds. The Pangawals of the Pangi region of the Chamba district are both low and high caste Hindus. The Lahaulis of Lahaul and Spiti region are mainly Buddhists.

People

Most of the people in Himachal depend on agriculture for livelihood. Many people derive their income from sheep, goats, and other cattle. Ninety percent of the people live in villages and small towns. Villages usually have terraced fileds and small two storey houses with sloping roof. The villages are mostly self-contained with a few shops to take care of basic necessities of life. Most villages have a temple, where people congregate for worship. In many parts of the Himachal the village Gods are carried on palanquins to village fairs. On Dussehra the largest congregation of village Gods takes place at Kullu.

Arts & Crafts

Thapada is a large embroidered shawl, which is a specialty of the handicraft of Himachal Pradesh. Other items of craft include the Kohana, a kind of a wall hanging, pillow covers, blouses and caps adorned with fine embroidery. The embroidered caps of the Kulu, Sirmair, Kinnaur and Lahaul regions are also very famous. The shawls from Kulu, woolen rugs and carpets from Lahaul, depicting the traditional Pahadi designs. Beautiful patchwork quilts, rag dolls and elephants are also made in the area and comprise a necessary parts of bride's trousseau. The wool products are made in either the Byangi wool. Dyeing and printing of fabrics has been a traditional craft in the area. The Farahada and the Chhiba people do this work traditionally. Weaving of wool is a major cottage industry in itself. The highlanders of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur weave dresses from it for special occasions such as festivals and weddings.

Traditional Dance & Music

The dance and music of the state is mainly religion-oriented where gods are invoked during the festivals by singing and dancing. This practice has continued since ancient times. The major dance of the state are the Rakshasa (dem0on) dance, the Kayang Dance, the Bakayang dance, the Bnayangchu dance, the Jataru Kayang dance, Chohara dance, Shand and Shabu dances, Lang-dar-ma dance, Nati dance, Jhanjhar dance, Jhoor dance, Gi dance and Rasa dance.

Musical instruments like Ranasingha, Karna, Turhi, Flute, Ektara, Kindari, Jhanjh, Manjara, Chimta, Ghariyal, and Ghunghru are played to provide music for the songs and the dances.

Fairs & Festivals

Fairs and festivals are an integral part of the Indian way of life. The colorful state of Himachal Pradesh has many fairs and festivals to celebrate throughout the year. The National Snow Statue Competition at Kufri near Shimla begins in the New Year. The ice-skating in Shimla begins around this time. The bonfires of Lohri, a festival to mark the sowing of the Rabi crop light up the night sky on January 13 every year. The skiing competitions are held at Solang Nullah in Manali in the month of February.

A fair in the memory of the sage Baba Barbhag Singh is held at around the same time at Una. It is believed that the Baba had magical powers, which were used towards altruistic ends. The little kites dapple the horizon with their color during the Basant Panchami, the arrival of the spring. Shivratri or the festival to celebrate the marriage of Shiva in March signifies ritual gaiety at the famous Baijnath shrine. The cattle fair is held at Nalwari in Bilaspur. Chait Durga Asthami is celebrated in the Shakti shrines at Hathkoti, Chitpurni, Jwalamukhi and Vajreshwari.

Diwali is celebrated throughout the state. On the banks of Sutlej, the Lavi fair is celebrated for three days. At Sirmaur, idols of Parasuram are immersed in the waters of Renuka Lake. Shimla has the tradition of celebrating Christmas since the days of the British Rule. To take part in the festivities, people come from far off places. The International Himalayan festival is held in Dharamshala in the second week of December.

Cuisine

There is no specific cuisine of Himachal Pradesh. The influence of a long and close association with Punjab and large-scale migration of Tibetans can be on the cuisine of the state. Some of the unique Himachali recipes include Nasasta, a sweetmeat of the Kangra region; Indra, dish made of Urad dal; Baadi / Ghaunda, and Bada/Poldu of the Shimla region. The popular dishes of the state are Pateer, Chouck, Bhagjery and chutney of Til. Non-vegetarian food is quite popular and preferred in Himachal Pradesh.

Travel in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is located in North West in India in the lap of the Great Himalayas . It is bordered by Jammu and Kashmir in the North , Punjab in the West , Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the South and Tibet in the East. Low rolling bills, just a couple of hundred meters above sea level, climb on to touch the core of the Himalaya mountains. Here lie peaks that are several thousand meters high and never lose their perennial snows. This beautiful state is divided into two parts Southern and Northern Himachal. The southern Himachal also known as lower Himachal is as hot as plain areas ,where as upper is Northern Himachal less hot in Summer and extreme cold and heavy snow in Winter.

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