Culture in Srinagar

Culture in Srinagar

Just as in anywhere else, culture in Srinagar has been formed by the amalgamation of different factors. Among them, the history of the town played a major role in this regard. For examples, the kings here had been great patrons of art and culture. This resulted into the development of a unique school of painting known as the Garhwal Paintings.  However, before we go into that, let us look into the wonderful people who have lived here since time immemorial.

People of Srinagar

People in Srinagar

Although people from all over India have now settled in Srinagar the region is mostly inhabited by Garhwali people. They belong to an ethno linguistic race that has been living here since the Vedic period.  It is believed that these people are the descendent of Indo Aryan group who have migrated to these hills in batches. Since such migrations have taken place over a period of several centuries they had amalgamated into the pre existing society and formed a unique culture of their own.

In general, Garhwali people are simple, friendly and very close to nature. However, as Srinagar has been the capital of a prosperous kingdom for more than 900 years and is located directly on Char Dham route, the inhabitants here have been have been subjected to outside influence to a greater extent. Consequently, they have a developed an urban culture that is typically their own.

Language of Srinagar

People in Srinagar

Although Hindi is the official language in Uttarakhand a large percentage of inhabitants in Srinagar speak in Garhwali language.  It is one of the Indo Aryan languages with many regional dialects. You can find people speaking in three different dialects in Pauri Garhwal alone. However, because Srinagar was the state capital and had long been the hub of culture and learning, people of this town mostly spoke in classical Garhwali. This form of the language has been accepted as the standard Garhwali by most scholars.

Classical Garhwali spoken in Srinagar is believed to have been derived from Khas Prakrit, which in turn has been derived from pure Sanskrit. It is written in Devnagari Script and has many Sanskrit words in it.

Costumes in Srinagar

Costumes in Srinagar

With growing influence of outside world, few people in Srinagar adhere to the traditional costume. Even then, one can see elder women wearing Kamarbandh and Julka. While the former is a waistband the later is a chaddar used as head covering. However, women still use different types of jewelries.

Religion in Srinagar

People of Srinagar mostly follow Hinduism. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity here though one can find famous Vishnu and Shakti temples located within its periphery. Most of the fairs and festivals celebrated by the inhabitants of this town relate to their religion.

Fairs and Festivals in Srinagar

Fairs and festivals in Srinagar

It is to be remembered that Srinagar is located in a hilly region and in places such as this, fairs and festivals provide scope for social gathering as well as reunion with friends and relatives. That is why people here celebrate different types of festivals. Among them, the most popular is the Baikunth Chaturdshi festival.

Baikunth Chaturdashi Festival in Srinagar

Baikunth Chaturdashi festival takes place in the Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple of Srinagar during the Shukla Chaturdashi in the month of Kartik (October/November). It portrays a nice blend of tradition and entertainment. It is said that whoever prays with a lighted lamp on the night of Kartik Shukla Chaturdashi is blessed with a child. That is why one can see scores of childless couples standing with a lighted diya in hand praying to Lord Shiva all through the night. A fair is organized from the next day. The town is also decorated with light.

Earlier the Baikunth Chaturdashi fair was held for one day only; but now it has been extended to five days by the Srinagar Nagar Palika. People from far and near come here to sell and buy. Apart from such economic activities, the fair offers scope for recreation and entertainment.  Cultural shows are organized as part of this festival. Sports too find adequate representation.

Other Festivals in Srinagar

Fair in Srinagar

Other than the Baikunth Chaturdashi fair, Kamleshwar Temple is also the venue for Shivratri and Baishakhi fair. The town also celebrates all other Indian festivals like Makar Shankranti, Shivaratri, Dusserha, Diwali, Holi, Rakhi etc. Here too we can witness some individuality. For example, Makar Shankranti in Garhwal is known as Uttrayani and is celebrated as ‘Khichtiya Shankranti.  In this festival, people donate rice and urad dal to the Brahmins. They also prepare khichri at home using urad dal.  On Vasant Panchami, which is also known as Shri Panchami, people of this region offer homage to Kshetrapal or Bhumiya Devtas.

Folk Songs of Srinagar

Folk Songs in Srinagar

Srinagar also has a rich tradition of folk songs and dances. Since agriculture was the mainstay of the economy in areas around the town it is natural that the songs will have reflection of that. They also portray the singer’s love for his/her land, certain socio economic problems like floods and droughts, tales of bravery and legends, about the miseries the people had to endure. These songs are always simple and heart touching. ‘Jhoda’, Thadiya’, ‘ Khuded’, ‘Mandal’, and ‘Panwaras’ are some of the popular genres of folk songs of this region. Among these, Mandals are generally sung during wedding while Khuded songs portray a married woman’s longing for a paternal home and Panwaras speak of tales of heroism.

Folk Dances in Srinagar

Folk dances are mainly danced in groups and often are accompanied by songs of the same name. Thadiya dances are example of this genre. These dances are generally performed during fairs and festivals. Pashwa,Chauffulla, Sarron, Holi  etc are other genre of folk dances popular in this region. 

Most of these folk songs and dances are generally accompanied by different musical instruments such as ‘Dhol and Damoun’, ‘Daur and Thali’, ‘Turri’, ‘Ransingha’, ‘Dholki’, ‘Masakbhaja’, ‘Bhankora’ etc. Nowadays, musician also play Harmonium and Tabla.

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