Culture in Kullu
Culture is a continuous process, which grows over the time. It is generally influenced by geographical position of the area as well as its history, mythology and religion. In Kullu, it has been influenced as much by the recorded history as by different mythological tales prevalent in this area since time immemorial. Moreover, the area had its first motorable road in the post independent era. This long seclusion from the outside world has helped the people to nurture their own culture. Consequently, we find the culture of Kullu to be unique in many ways.
The People of KulluThe people of Kullu have always been simple, pious and well entrenched in their traditional beliefs. They are also known for their truthfulness and hospitality. Yet they are a spirited lot. Indeed, their jest for life comes out not only during feasts and festivals, but also in their day-to-day activities.
People of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh are very fond of flowers. They also love colorful dresses. Women love to wear bold and bright ornaments. Singing and dancing are also their forte.
Earlier, agriculture and horticulture were their sole means of livelihood. However, with the spread of education and increased interaction with the outside world, there has been considerable change in that. Although they still adhere to their traditional way of life, they have also amalgamated what is good in other cultures and thereby enriched their own.
Language in KulluAlthough Hindi is the official language of Kullu, people here mostly speak in Kulvi, which is also known as Kullu. It is a dialect of Western Pahari language, which is spoken by a wide variety of people in lower Himalayan region. However, due to close interaction with the people of Punjab, Pahari spoken in Kullu has a Punjabi influence and thereby has a distinction of its own.
Costume in Kullu
Religion in KulluPeople of Kullu mostly follow Hinduism. However, here too they have been able to establish their distinction. Along with pan-Indian deities, they also worship sages of yore as well as different tribal Gods and Goddesses. Hadimba/Hiramba Temple in the Valley is a pointer to this fact.
Art and Craft in KulluKullu has a rich tradition of folk arts. Their amazing temple architecture gives us a fair idea of that. Added to it are their vibrant handicrafts, melodious folk songs and spectacular folk dances; all these indicate how very artistically inclined the common people of Kullu are.
Kullu Shawls and CapsHandloom occupies a pride of place in the handicraft sector in Kullu. Until recently, almost every house in the valley had a handloom of their own; the householder wove their own clothing at home. However, this has changed drastically and people of the town now buy their clothing rather than make it at home. Nonetheless, a large section of the population is fully or partially egged in this field even now.
Among all the handloom products in Kullu, shawls come first. They are famous all over the world for their intricate colors and designs. Traditionally, these shawls are multicolored. Different shades of red, green, yellow and grey are used on white, grey or brown base to create a gorgeous effect. They generally have stunning geometric designs on both ends. Some of the shawls also have flowery designs woven all over or on the borders.
Earlier Kullu shawls were simple but bright. Complicated designs began to appear when Bushehari artisans from Rampur area began to settle in Kullu. The shawls underwent further changes when they began to be made for commercial purposes. To cater to the customers’ demands, Kullu weavers have also started using lighter shades. Moreover, these shawls are now being made from different kinds of materials such as merino wool, pashmina wool, angora wool etc. Prices depend as much on the material used as on the number and size of designs.
Equally famous are the Kullu caps. These are made out of woolen materials and are round in shape. They have colorful border on their sides. These designs are woven in small looms. To cater to the market demand, weavers are now using both synthetic and vegetable colors. Depending on materials used a cap may cost anything between Rs. 20 and Rs. 250.
Metal Crafts in KulluMetal craft is another popular handicraft in Kullu. Craftsmen living in and around the town make amazing products out of copper, brass, silver and gold. They still follow the traditional methods of casting, engraving and ornamenting to produce different types of masks, jewelry, musical instruments, household goods etc. Besides, they also produce beautiful Chhatras (umbrellas), palanquins and chariots for gods and goddesses. All these objects are engraved manually with images of gods and goddesses, local flora and fauna, tales from Ramayana and Mahabharata etc.
Lesser Known Crafts in KulluIn addition to the above mentioned crafts, there are many lesser known articles made by the artisans of Kullu. While in town you can look for household articles made out of wood, slippers made out of grass, straw carpets, baskets, mattresses, woolen quilts, hand knitted woolen garments etc. To know more about them you can also visit our page on Handicrafts in Kullu.
In addition, if you want to see those beautiful art objects in person, you can also visit Uruswati Himalayan Folk Art Museum located at a distance of 7 Km from the Main Market in Kullu.
Folk Dances in KulluFolk dances are a part of life for the people in Kullu. These dances depict not only the cultural heritage of the inhabitants, but also their vibrant lifestyle and their struggle to stay alive under adverse condition. No fair or festival is deemed complete without them. However, some of these dances are meant only for women. Charasay-Tarasay (also known as Birshu-Nirshu), Lalharhi and Kahika are few such dances. On the other hand, there are dances such as Bandhu, Horn Dance, Deo Khel and Hulki Dance, which are intended only for men. Only the Natti dances require participation by both the genders.
Festivals and Feasts in Kullu
As we have already mentioned in the beginning of this article that the people of Kullu is full of life and this is amply reflected in their feasts and festivals celebrated throughout the year. Most important of them is the Dussehra, which celebrates the victory of good over the evil. The second is the Pipal Jatra, which is actually the Spring Festival.
Other than these two, there are many other equally popular festivals celebrated in different parts of Kullu Valley. Among them, Shamshi Virshu is celebrated on 13th April (1stBaisakh) in village Khokan. It heralds the New Year, but has a touch of spirituality in it. Before the worship begins, the Goddess is taken out of the temple. Yellow sheets of barley as well as garlands are offered to the deity; a goat is also sacrificed. Then the women dance and sing around her while the men look on.
It is to be noted that most of the fairs in the valley are centered on religion, but they are not at all a somber affair. Contrarily, songs and dances form a major part of these occasions. Following are few of the fairs which are religious and yet full of fun and gaiety:
- Mela Bhunter or the fair at Bhunter is held in Bhunter on 1st Ashad. On this day, the harvested crop is first cooked and offered to the deity. The meal is then shared with others. The fair is held for three days.
- Sainj Fair is held on 21st Baisakh. On this day Lord Lakshminaryan is brought from Raila and worshiped. Folk Dances and songs with beats of drums and trumpets is the hall mark of this fair.
- Ani fair is held on 27th Baisakh. While the main attraction of this fair is folk dances and songs deities from adjoining areas are brought to the fairground and worshiped. This fair also has major commercial significance.
- Luhri Fair is held on 21st and 22nd Kartik in the honor of Lord Jogeshwar and khegro Maya. Natti dances and mimicking are major attractions of this fair.
- Dalash Fair is held in the month of Bhadon in the honor of Jogeshwar Mahadev and Bungli Nag. Natti dances are major attraction of this fair as well.
- Ganter Fair is held on 3rd Pon. This fair is organized to commemorate old rivalry between Thakurs and Ranas.
- Dhongi Fair is held 2nd Jaishth in the honor Devi Hidamba, wife of 3rd Pandava Bhima.
- Sharhi Jatra is also held in Jaisth and takes place in a ground named Sharhi.
- Budhhi Diwali is held on Maghar Amawas (new moon night) to commemorate the start of the great war of Mahabharata. It also honors the killing of two demons that used to live here in the form of snakes.
- Phagli Fair is held in the month of Phagun; it also commemorates the killing of demons by Gods. Dances like Deo Khel and Raksh Khel are performed by dancers representing demons and Gur, who represents the God.
- Birshu Fair is another popular fair celebrated in the month of Chait and Baishakh. It has great social as well as religious significance. Delicacies are cooked on the last day of Chait and then shared with the relatives. Temples are decorated the next day and people gather there, the Gur performs Deo Khel dances. Then the deity is taken out in procession round the village; people greet each other and seek blessings.
- Bhadoli Fair is not a yearly fair, but takes place every three years in the memory of Lord Parashu Ram; who is said to have meditated here. It is spread over four days and ends with a community feast.