Culture of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is the rainbow land where the multi-hued Indian Culture has blossomed from times immemorial. Blessed with a varaity of geographical land and many cultural diversities, Uttar Pradesh, has been the area of activity of historical heroes like – Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Ashoka, Harsha, Akbar and Mahatma Gandhi. Rich and tranquil expanses of meadows, perennial rivers, dense forestsand fertile soil of Uttar Pradesh have contributed numerous golden chapters to the annals of Indian History. Dotted with various holy shrines and piligrim places,full of joyous festivals, it plays an important role in the politics, education, culture, industry, agriculture and tourism of India.
Languages and Literature
Uttar Pradesh is often referred to as the ‘Hindi heartland of India’. While the languages of state administration are Hindi, established by the Uttar Pradesh Official Language Act, 1951, and Urdu, established by the Amendment to the same in 1989, the native languages of the state are considered. Both language are the common populace as well as the State and Central Governmental authorities. Linguistically, the state spreads across the Central, East-Central and Eastern zones of the Indo-Aryan languages, the major native languages of the state being, Awadhi, Bundeli, Braj Bhasha, Kannauji and the vernacular form of Khari boli, which also forms the basis for the standardised Hindi and Urdu registers. Bhojpuri is spoken in the east and Bagheli is spoken on the southwestern fringes of the state.
Uttar Pradesh is the seat of Hindi literature, and has produced many legendary writers and poets like Jaishankar Prasad, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Munshi Premchand, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’, Rahul Sankrityayan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Dharamvir Bharati, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Dushyant Kumar, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi,Chandramani Brahmdutt, Acharya Kuber Nath Rai, Bharatendu Harishchandra, Kamleshwar Prasad Saxena, Shivmangal Singh Suman,Pushpa Singh Visan, Mahadevi Varma, Vibhuti Narain Rai and many others.
As of the 2001 census of India, about 80% of Uttar Pradesh population is Hindu, while Muslims make up around 18% of the population. The remaining population consists of Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jains.
Uttar Pradesh has a rich tradition of sumptuous vegetarian and non-vegetarian food preparations and of sweetmeats, seen at their best on formal occasions.
A formal vegetarian meal of Uttar Pradesh consists of chapatis, rotis (flatbread) and/or puris (deep fried puffed flatbreads), daal (thick lentil soup), rice (boiled white rice), vegetable curries (one or more of dry/fried and semi-liquid curries each), curd, pickles, papad (thin spicy crackers) and a variety of sweets (gulab jamuns, rasmalai, rabri, jalebi, laddoos of varying varieties, pethas, kheer, gujhiys and many others). It is normally served in metal dishes and traditionally eaten without the use of cutlery, sitting on the bare floor. When a large gathering is to be feasted in a traditional manner, food may also be served on disposable, flat platters (called ‘pattal’), which are made by intertwining broad leaves of certain trees.Samosas and pakoras are among the favourite snacks.
A non-vegetarian meal consists of many varieties of meat- or rice-preparations that have evolved in the region, and are now nationally and internationally known as the Moghlai cuisine; some of these are: kebab, kofta, korma, keema, pulao, biryani, parathas (plain or stuffed), halwa, firni etc. In addition, a selection from the above vegetarian dishes may be present among the food spread. Traditionally, food is served in metal-ware or ceramic crockery, eaten directly with bare hands or (sometimes) with spoons, sitting on the ground covered with a flooring material like cloth-sheet or carpet.
The people of Uttar Pradesh wear a variety of native- and Western-style dress. Traditional styles of dress include colourful draped garments – such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi for men – and tailored clothes such as salwar kameez for women and kurta-pyjama for men. Men also often sport a head-gear like topi or pagri. Sherwani is a more formal male dress and is frequently worn along with chooridar on festive occasions. European-style trousers and shirts are also common among the men.
Dress material varies according to the weather requirements; hence, fabrics made of cotton and cotton-synthetic blends are common in summer and warm clothing, made of wool or synthetic-wool, is needed in winter, when a sweater, jacket and/or a coat may be worn, especially during peak winter.
Religious practices are as much an integral part of everyday life, and a very public affair, as they are in the rest of India. Therefore, not surprisingly, many festivals are religious in origin, although several of them are celebrated irrespective of caste and creed.
Among the most important Hindu festivals are Diwali, Holi and Dashehra, which are also observed with equal fervour by Jains and Sikhs.Ten days of Ramlila takes place during the period of navratri and on the 10th day, epithet of Raavan is burnt with great fervour. Durga puja is also observed in many parts of the state during navratri. Barah Wafat, Eid, Bakreed and Birthdate of Imam Ali ibn Abitalib are recognized official Muslim religious festivals. Moharram, though the day of Ashura is official holiday but Shiites consider it as a day of mourning and not a festival as some people believe. Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated by Jains, Buddha Jayanti by Buddhists, Guru Nanak Jayanti by Sikhs and Christmas by the Christians. Other festivals include Ram navami, Chhath puja, Krishna-janmashtami, Mahashivratri, etc.
Dance and Music
The state is home to a very ancient tradition in dance and music. During the eras of Guptas and Harsh Vardhan, Uttar Pradesh was a major centre for musical innovation. Swami Haridas was a great saint-musician who championed Hindustani classical music. Tansen, the great musician in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court, was a disciple of Swami Haridas. The ragas sung by Tansen were believed to be so powerful that they could bring rain, or light a fire, when recited.
Kathak, a classical dance form, involving gracefully coordinated movements of feet and arms along with the entire body, grew and flourished in Uttar Pradesh. Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, was a great patron and a passionate champion of Kathak. Today, the state is home to two prominent schools of this dance form, namely, Lucknow Gharana and Banaras Gharana. The region’s folk heritage includes songs called rasiya (known and especially popular in Braj), which celebrate the divine love of Radha and Shri Krishna. These songs are accompanied by large drums known as bumb and are performed at many festivals. Other folk dances or folk theater forms include: Khayal, Naqal or Mimicry, Nautanki, Qawwali, Raslila, Swang, Ramlila, which includes enacting the entire Ramayana.
Lokrang Sanskritik Samiti – an organisation of Jogia Janubi Patti, Fazilanagar, Kushinagar – is doing research work in the field of Folk-songs, Folk-artists and Folk-cultures. In the month of May, every year the Samiti organises its function “Lokrang”. More than 150 artists and writers participate in this programme.