Culture of Gujarat
Gujarat is a flourishing state with cultural diversity. It is vibrant with its true colors of rich heritage and cultural traditions. Dating back to history with the Harappan civilization, the state becomes a confluence of many religions – Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Buddhism. The Gujarati culture blends in arts, beliefs, customs, traditions, institutions, inventions, language, technology and values.
Gujarati remains a mother tongue for people of Gujarat and is widely spoken all over the world wherever a Gujarati exist. Surti, charotari, kathiawai and kutchi languages are among the many others languages like Marathi, Sindhi, Punjabi etc. are spoken in Gujarat regions.
Gujarat has major multicultural religious faith system with the inception of all-embracing religious faith ranging from caste to caste. The major religions followed are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Groups like Bohras and Moresalaam garasias, Kutchis who had been converted to Islam still have eqaunimous way of life of a typical Gujarati. Sunni Muslims are second largest group ,followed By Jains,Parsis of Iranian descent of south Gujarat and Christians. People of Gujarat are god fearing, friendly and good natured.
Majority of the Gujaratis are Vegetarian. A traditional ‘Gujarati Thali’ consisting of dal (lentils), roti, rice and vegetables apart from salads, farsan and sweet dish followed by chaas, forms the morning meal. Evening food consist of ‘bhakri-shak’ or khichdi kadhi. Mainly, the diet of the people of Gujarat consists of cereals, pulses, green vegetables, fruits, milk, ghee, butter-milk, etc. A variety of Cuisine sub-ordinates like pickles, chutney, papad, yoghurt, etc serve as fillings on main menu.
Fairs and Festivals
Gujarat is well known for its Fairs and expositions. Over 3500 Fairs and Festivals are celebrated in Gujarat. Some of these fairs and festivals are as follows:
Bhavnath Mahadev Fair: The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in the city of Junagadh, is the site of the Bhavnath Mahadev fair held for five days in February, during the festival of Mahashivratri. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva takes place at midnight in this temple on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magh. When the puja starts, Naga Bavas living nearby move towards the fair seated on elephants, holding flags and blowing conch shells. It is firmly believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. Visitors are served free meals by the organizers. Special stalls sell idols, rosaries, or holy beads (brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura), utensils of brass and copper, sweets and fruits. The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is surrounded by many equally ancient and holy places.
Dangs Darbar: Dangs Darbar is the name of the annual fair held every year in Ahwa, the most important town in the Dangs a few days before Holi. The Dangs is one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat and is located high in the Saputara hills, the original home of the adivasis, the tribal population of Gujarat. The name &Darbar& dates back to the time of the British, when a darbar of Rajas and Naiks of neighbouring area used to assemble there. Today it is called Jamabandi Darbar, and the District Collector officiates at it. Thousands of tribal people flock to Ahwa from all over the district, dressed in bright colours, sounding the Shehnai, and beating their drums. Folk dances, dramas, and songs enliven the air during the festival.
Chitra-Vichitra Fair: This fair, one of the largest purely Adivasi (tribal) fairs, is attended by around 60,000 to 70,000 tribal people. It takes place every year in the village of Gunbhakhari in Sabarkantha district. The fair attracts large numbers of Bhils (tribals) who come from all the surrounding districts using every imaginable form of transport. The Garasis and Bhil tribals dress in their customary colourful costumes. The costume of the men generally consists of a blue shirt, dhoti, and a red or saffron turban. Women don ghaghras (embroidered skirts), which have a circumference of as much as 20 yards (18 m), and are covered from head to foot with ornate and heavy silver jewellery. They use liquid kumkum (vermilion) to colour their cheeks and lips a brilliant red, while their eyes are outlined with kajal (kohl). Every group that comes to the fair carries its own drum making the atmosphere come alive with the incessant beat of numerous drums. The women sing folk songs, and everyone dances. It is held a fortnight after Holi, the festival of colours. The site of the fair is attractive as the temple overlooks the rivers Sabarmati, Akul, and Vyakul.
Sanskruti kunj Fair: The Sanskruti kunj Festival shows the different cultures of the states of India. It is organised in the winter sesion in the capital city, Gandhinagar. All the competitors of India come during this fair and show their state’s culture and dance.
Kite Flying Festival: The Kite Flying Festival takes place in mid January and marks the time when the Sun’s direct rays reach the Tropic of Capricorn after the winter solstice. It is celebrated with lots of folk music and dance as well as kite flying. At night, kites with Chinese lanterns are flown and held aloft. Food such as Undhiya, sugar cane juice and local sweets is typically served to celebrate the day.
The Kutch Mahotsav (Rann Festival): The Kutch Festival or the Rann festival is celebrated at the time of the Shiv Ratri in February/ March. The centre of the festival is Bhuj in Kutch. It has crafts, fairs and folk dances and music and cultural shows, all organized by the Gujarat Tourism. Tours are also conducted out to the ruins of Dhola Vera, a city that was once a part of the Indus Valley civilization.
Bhadra Purnima: The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji, a place that derives its name from Goddess Ambaji, whose shrine is located there. On this occasion, a large fair is organized on full moon days. In the evening, performances of Bhavai, the folk drama of the state, is held and Garba programmes are organized. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas (religious texts) where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable ‘Shree’ in the centre, represents the deity. There is no idol, which testifies the temple’s antiquity. Idol worship became popular much later.
Music and Dance
Gujarat is quite famous and well known for its dynamic traditions of classical and folk music. They are the heart and soul of Gujarat. The traditional culture of Gujaratis with their traditional music and dance form of Garba, Garbi, Raas and other are well known and finds attraction to tourists. Raas and Garba dance forms are said to have been passed on by Lord Krishna, who spent his childhood at Gokul while he played the flute.
Gujarat is blessed with rich and vibrant tradition of Handicrafts. It is widely differing in its proportions of its patterns to the element of wonderful exquisite Artifacts in various forms. It stands unique with diverse arts and crafts – a mixed combination with aesthetic appeal.