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Fairs & Festivals

Uttarakhand Fairs & Festivals

The people of the state celebrate an array of religious, national and regional festivals. By participating at these fairs and festivals, you'll be able to gain a keen insight into the age-old customs and traditions. Even the tiny mountain villages of the state offer something unique in terms of cultural and traditional richness. During your tour to Uttarakhand, you can take part in some of the most popular festivals including Holi, Diwali, Basant Panchmi, Navratri, Durgotsav and Makar Sankranti among others.

Though the majority of people in the state belong to Hinduism, the state is home to several ethnic groups. Each of these groups have some unique to offer the traveler in terms of customs and traditions.

Music and dances are an integral part of Uttarakhand's culture. One of the biggest attractions for tourists is the folk music that you can listen to during religious and regional festivals. Whether it's the Kumaon region or the Garhwal region (Garhwali Dance), you can have a great time taking joy from some of the most wonderful musical tunes and lyrics.

Popular folk songs in the state include Mandals, Panwaras, Thadya and Jhoda among others. The bygone years have given rise to multiple noted musicians as well. Over the years, the various musical forms have also undergone changes.

Like folk songs, folk dance is also a major crowd puller in the state. During the festive season, you can visit different cities and towns of the state to enjoy seeing different types of folk dance forms. Langvir Nritya and Brada Nati are very popular traditional dance forms.

Folk Songs of Uttarakhand

Folk Songs of Uttarakhand had its root in the lap of nature. It has seen various phases of growth and has undergone lots of transformation during the course of time. It speaks about various festivals, religious traditions, folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. Bajuband, Basanti, Chhopati, Chhura, Chounphula and Jhumeila, Jagars, Khuded, Mangal, Puja Folk Songs are some of the folk songs sung in Uttarakhand.

Some of these artists are Sh.Mohan Upreti, Sh.Gopal Babu Goswami, Sh.Narendra Singh Negi ji Gajendra Rana, Meena Rana, Sangeeta Dhoundiyal, Manglesh Dangwal, Anil Bisht, Virendra Rajput, Dinesh Uniyal, Pritam Bhartwan and others. Bajuband .

This is a folk song of love and sacrifice between the shepherds. It is a love dialogue between the man and woman or between a boy and girl which is sung in the form of a folk song

Basanti :

  • 'Basanti' folk songs are composed for the coming spring season when flowers, bloom and new life spring in the valleys of the hills of Garhwal. The folk song is sung individually or in groups.
Chhura :

  • 'Chhura' folk songs are sung among shepherds in the form of advice given by the old to youngsters, having learnt it out of their experience, particularly in grazing sheep and goats.
Chhopati :

  • These are the folk songs popular in Rawain-Jaunpur area of Tehri Garhwal. 'Chhopati' are the love songs sung between the men and women in the form of questions and answers.
Chounphula and Jhumeila :

  • 'Chounphula' & Jhumeila' form part of seasonal dances which are performed from 'Basant Panchami' to 'Sankranti' or 'Baisakhi'. 'Jhumeila' is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women. 'Chounphula' is a spinning dance 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 during various occasions. Chounphula, Jhumeila and Daryola folk songs all derive their names from the concerned folk dances.
Jagars - Folk Dances of Kumaon and Garhwal :

  • Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spiritual worship, in the form of a folk song or at times combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and are sung in .honour of the various gods and goddesses.

    There are more than 50 ballads on indigenous spirits, gods and goddesses, fairies and ghosts, the most famous Ganganath, Gorilla, and Bholanath. The chief priest, Gantava, fixes the time on whicl1 a jagar is to be formed. Around the burning fire, in a circle, are members of the village or family-suddently, like a magician the Das, or singer, slowly, and with measured drum beats, starts to invoke the spirit. Coupled with his singing, punctuated by the exotic drum-beats, and the shrill sound of the thali', the crescendo, builds up and drives the listeners into a trance. In a fit of ectasy they leap, shout, tremble and j'ump, sometimes tearing off their clothes. As they move around the fire, the Das starts to address them by the name of the spirit or spirits involved and asks the spirits, the questions that are sought by some families and the remedies. Usually the spirit demands a sacrifice of a goat or a bird. The spirit is sent back to its Himalayan abode and the spell breaks-the dance and the ceremony is ove.

    While in a state of trance the dancers lick red-hot pokers, or shove their hands into the blazing fire without being harmed.

    The instruments used are a big Drum (Dhol), a smaller Drum (Damua), Hurka and Thall.
Khuded :

  • These folk songs depict the suffering of a woman due to the separation from her husband. The woman curses the circumstances in which she is separated generally when the husband is away looking for a job. 'Laman' another folk song is sung on special occasions expressing the sacrifice that he is willing to do for his beloved. 'Pawada' also belongs to this category of folk songs where separation is felt when the husband has gone to the battlefield.
Mangal :

  • 'Mangal' songs are sung during marriage ceremonies. These songs are basically 'Puja songs' sung alongwith the Purohits who keep enchanting 'Shlokas' in Sanskrit according to the Shastras during the marriage ceremony.
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.

Folk Dances of Uttarakhand

The Culture of Uttarakhand has its roots in past. Among the diverse cultures and traditions of India it is one of the unique culture which can be seen prominently in its various forms of art. Uttarakhand folk dance is not as complex as the classical dance forms but is something which is beautiful to witness. Its a reflection of the deep sited beliefs and traditions of the local people which is performed to express joy & celebrate the arrival of new season.

Barada Nati, Bhotiya Dance, Chancheri, Chhapeli, Choliya Dance, Jagars, Jhora, Langvir Dance, Langvir Nritya, Pandav Nritya, Ramola, Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances, Thali-Jadda and Jhainta are some of the folk dances performed in various occasions in Uttarakhand. Barada Nati .

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.

Bhotiya Dance :

  • The Bhotiya Dance is performed by the Bhotias tribe and is connected with death ceremonies. It is believed by the tribal people that the soul of the dead person resides in the body of a goat or sheep and by dancing this way the soul can be liberated for their next birth.
Chancheri :

  • This is a group dance of Danpur Patti region of Bageshwar District in Kumaon. Both men and women dance in a semi-circular formation with gradually increasing pace putting across unbridled joy.
Chhapeli :

  • Chhapeli dance is performed by couples with the female carrying a mirror in her left hand and a colored handkerchief in the other. The male plays a Hudukka on his left shoulder accompanied by others playing the Hurka, Manjira and Flute. The dance is a duet that outlines the joys of romance. The woman partner (sometimes also a young boy) dances with a smile and elegant waist movements, either in admiration of her beauty and charm or mocking her ways of expressing love.
Choliya Dance - Folk Dances of Kumaon :

  • Dating back to over a thousand years, the Chholiya Dance has its origins in the warring Khasiya Kingdom of Khasdesh, when marriages were performed at the point of the swords. They were united by the Chand kings who arrived' on the scene in the 10th century. In Nepal, the word Khasa is still asynonym for Kashatrya, and in Khasdesh, too, they took on the customs of the Rajputs, who were themselves honorary Kashatryas.

    Keeping the old tradition alive, the Rajputs dance this at their weddings as a part of the marriage procession itself, led by the male dancers who go on dancing till they reach the bride's house. Performed by the Rajputs with sword and shield in pairs, the drummers are usually Harijans called Dholies, while the Turi and Ransing are played by Bairagis, Jogis or Gosains. The Turi and Ransing are typical Kumaon instruments. Perfectly synchronized, and marked with jumps and turns of the body, the dancers show several sword-fighting feats. Attired in the material costumes of ancient warriors, the flashing swords and shields, along with the war-like music, huge red flag with various animal symbols stuck on it conveys fear, joy, awe and wonder, through eyes, eyebrows and shoulders, creating at the same time, the impression of group advancing for an attack.
Jagars - Folk Dances of Kumaon and Garhwal :

  • Jaggar falls in the category of ghost and spiritual worship, in the form of a folk song or at times combined with dances. Sometimes, Jaggar may also be in the form of Puja folk songs and are sung in .honour of the various gods and goddesses.
Jhora - Folk Dances of Kumaon :

  • A community dance, when all barriers of castes are thrown to the winds, except in the village, where the high and lower castes have separate Jhoras, it is danced at fairs to the accompaniment, of singing that grows with the dance.

    Performed either in the morning or evening, they are danced at the coming of spring, mostly at fairs, but also to celebrate weddings. From the minimum, number, six, it swells to 200 at times, men and women both joining in. Together they move in a circle, holding each other's arms and slight1y bending their bodies forward as they move. On the first beat of the Hurka, the left leg crosses the right, striking the floor with the left foot. On the second beat, the right foot is thrown sideways with a slight jump and little dip and the performers return to their original standing pose, with the bodies swaying slightly to the back. The third and fourth steps are given to the left and right foot respectively. Each step is taken with a slight jump and the accompanying neck and shoulder movements. This completes one cycle. If the circle is big the Hurka players, accompanied by the cymbals and, flute dance inside the circle, singing and playing simultaneously, rending the air joyous with exhilaration. The men and women dancers, themselves provide the singing following the lead of the Hurka player-the women follow the men-the tempo remains the same neither very fast nor very slow.
Langvir Dance :

  • This is an energetic dance performed more often than not by men. In Langvir, the dancer climbs a bamboo pole and balances himself at his navel on the top of the pole. Music is given by Dhol and he balances, swivels and almost dances on his belly at the pole, performing other acrobatic stunts.
Langvir Nritya :

  • 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.
Pandav Nritya :

  • The Pandav 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.
Ramola - Folk Dances of Kumaon :

  • The coming of Spring is a matter of joy to everyone, in Kumaon it is announced by. bards who, roaming from place to place, sing of its charms on a sarangi or dholak : "Oh my bee, oh my beloved, Spring has surreptitiously crept in. Quickly take to the valley of flowers where we will play 'Phag together."

    At the Holi festival, forgetting their worries, the people join in festivity lasting more than a month and hundreds of songs of classical, semi classical, and folk variety are sung by both men and women to the accompaniment of the Harmonium, Tabla, Dholak and Manzira (cymbals).
Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances - Folk Lore of Garhwal :

  • Bhotiya tribals have their typical dances like 'Dhurang, and Dhuring' which are connected with death ceremonies. The aim at liberating the soul of the dead person which they believed to have been living in the body of either a goat or another animal. The dance is similar to the pastorals of Himachal Pradesh or the hunting dance of Nagaland.
Thali, Jadda and Jhainta - Folk Dances of Kumaon :

  • While the Thali is a graceful dance of the women, the Jadda and Jhainta are dances in which men and women whirl together with gay abandon. The whole region a kaleidoscope of folk dancing. the Kumaonis, with their powers of endurance, can go on dancing even after a hard day work. A very part of their life, dance and music surge upto fulfil their emotional and social needs, dancing keeping them ever fresh and alive. The Kumaonis prove the old adage. "The tribe which dances does not die.