Cultures and Peoples (Overview)
Worshippers make the Gods. Uttarakhand, known as the 'Abode of the Gods' with all its pristine appeal, wouldn't be the same without its people who bring out the richness and beauty of the state. The splendour of Uttarakhand is not limited to picture perfect mountains and nourishing rivers. It is the people and the culture of this state that bring its magnificence to life.
Uttarakhand is bestowed with a rich and varied culture. The culture is greatly influenced by its geographical factors and landscape. A distinct way of life is observed in the mountains, deep valleys, forests and hillsides of the region. The majority of the cultural heritage of Uttarakhand has been intertwined with lore and customs grounded in chaste religious faith Regional and traditional culture is deeply rooted in religion, music, dance and art that have been brought down the ages.
The hills resound with life as the people celebrate the season and legends, and welcome Mother Nature to their land. Based on the local traditions, these events are known not only for their religious significance but also for their social significance. The agrarian state marks the arrival of each new season with a festival, giving the state many reasons to celebrate. The festivals and fairs play an important role in the community as they commemorate sacred and significant events. The attractive fairs and festivals celebrated with great spontaneity - draw the attention of visitors from far and wide and are an important platform for socio-cultural
and economic exchanges.
The state not only opens the doors to one's favourite gods and goddesses but also helps pilgrims to rediscover themselves on their spiritual journeys. Since time immemorial, the Ganga has been considered the holiest river in the country and is revered as jeevan dayini or the giver of life. Devotees look forward to enchanting religious rituals and the divine Ganga aarti that takes place in the evenings by the banks of the River Ganga at Haridwar and Rishikesh. The ritual bath or the Kumbh Mela witness the largest gathering of devotees on the banks of the Ganga once every 12 years. Other sacred pilgrimages include Yatras to Nanda Devi and Kailash Mansarovar. This route offers awe-inspiring scenes along the journey. The Hemkund Sahib and Nanakmatta are holy places for the Sikhs and Piran Kaliyar is for Muslims seeking spiritual fulfilment. Today the state is a melting pot of many communities The tribes of the state represent the original inhabitants of this land. Major tribes include the Bhotias (Shaukas), Tharus, Buxas, Jaunsaris and Rajis. Each tribe follows its own distinct pattern and way of life, making the state a prosperous basket of culture. Today they flourish in their own small but beautiful ways. The rich socio-cultural activities are celebrated with great energy by the people and are great tourist attractions, as well as learning hot spots. Fairs are an inseparable part of the social and cultural life and encourage the strengthening of social ties across castes religions and all sections of society. Traditional art forms are revived at such fairs and get the recognition and support they need to continue down the ages.
Uttarakhand is a land of lore and legends, and of holy rivers. The sacred shrines, temples and rivers are woven with a series of legends and folk tales that reflect the cultural diversity of the place. Uttarakhand is also known as The Land of Festivities' owing to the numerous fairs and festivals that take place here, like the Nanda Devi Mela, Holi Mahotsav and Dussehra. The four most holy pilgrimage sites, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, referred to as Char Dham, lie here and have been sanctified by holy saints and pilgrims since ancient times.
Pilgrims come on a spiritual journey, making this place and an important pilgrimage destination visited by thousands of people in search of the divine.