Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Uttar Pradesh Culture :: Regional Culture :: Indian Culture

One of the most populous states of India is the state of Uttar Pradesh. The biggest city here is Kanpur while the other cities here are Allahabad, Agra and Varanasi. This is a state of diverse castes of the people of India where those from the upper classes; Brahmins, Vaishyas and Kshatriyas, though a minority, have managed to dominate the political and economic scenes here for many years.

The majority of the population here consists of people from scheduled castes, tribes and backward classes. You can find more of tribal people in the hill, Vindhya and terai-bhabhar regions. Five tribal communities; Tharus, Rajis, Bhoksas, Bhotias and Jaunswaris have been recognized by the central government. The scheduled tribes and castes of Uttar Pradesh are found in rural areas and are dependant on agriculture for their living. Besides the upper class population, there are other Hindu, Christian, Jain and Muslim communities found in UP.

Most of the population here comprise of people from Indo-Aryan sub races which belong to the Aryan race that had separated from the one in Iran. In fact, some people based on hills, on the districts bordering Nepal also have Mongoloid features. The Jaats and Gujjars from the race arisen from the mix of Indo-Aryan and Indo-Scythian tribes. Their physical features are very much different from the people settled in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Oudh. There is also a tribe in Rohikhand region of UP, Rohila Pathan, claim lineage to the tribes of Central Asia like Mongols.

Despite this diversity in castes of the population of UP, the people here are rather hard working, simple, place emphasis on family values and are social in their outlook. They are very touchy and don’t make jokes pointed to one’s caste, religion or family member; this is why sentiments of local people have to be respected. Though hard working, the people here are ridden with widespread poverty. However they have learnt to live happily despite all this.

This north Indian dance form is inextricably bound with classical Hindustani music, and the rhythmic nimbleness of the feet is accompanied by the table or pakhawaj. Traditionally the stories were of Radha and Krishna, in the Natwari style (as it was then called) but the Moghul invasion of North India had a serious impact on the dance. The dance was taken to Muslim
courts and thus it became more entertaining and less religious in content. More emphasis was laid on nritta, the pure dance aspect and less on abhinaya (expression and emotion).

Dances of Uttar Pradesh

Hurka Baul

The Hurka Baul is performed during paddy and maize cultivation. On a fixed day, after the preliminary ritual, the dance is performed in different fields by turns. The name of the dance is derived from hurka, the drum which constitutes the only musical accompaniment, and baul, the
song. The singer narrates the story of battles and heroic deeds, the players enter from two opposite sides and enact the stories in a series of crisp movements. The farmers form two rows and move backwards in unison, while responding to the tunes of the song and the rhythm of the players.


A famous dance of Kumaon, Uttar Pradesh, is the Chholiya, performed during marriages. As the procession proceeds to the bride's house, male dancers, armed with swords and shields, dance spiritedly.

Ramalila and Rasalila

Ramalila and Rasalila are two most popular dance-dramas of Uttar Pradesh. The former is associated with Rama and the later with Krishna. Ramalila is based on the epic story of the Ramayana. It is staged as a dance-drama at various places in most of the cities, towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh with great fervour as a ritual. During the performance the Ramayana is constantly recited accompanied by dance and music. It presents a fine blending of dance, music, mime, abhinaya and poetry before an
enthusiastic and religious audience.

Rasalila folk-dances are performed with great pomp and pageantry in various parts of Uttar Pradesh, in general and in Braja Mandala, that is Mathura, Vrindavana and adjoining areas in particular. They commemorate in music and movement the most cherished divine love of
Radha and Krishna. In dance and song are enacted the legends connected with the childhood, adolescence and early youth of Krishna with cow maids and cowherds. The dances are highly developed in terms of footwork, mime and music, all requiring great skill and technique. Rasalila is a group dance performed in a mandala or a ring to the accompaniment of songs relating to Krishna legends and the music of drums, cymbals, and flutes. Many of the steps of this complex dance-pattern are common with those of the Kathak.

Arts and Crafts

Agra's Zardoji

Agra's Zardoji is very uniqueart of embroidery. The artist first makes free hand sketches of the subject. Then he embroiders in cotton threads over and over till he gets the required thickness and movements. Finally the artist takes fibre from silk threads, twists then together in the shades required for and embroiders with them the particular piece. In the process he creates original unparallel work of art.

The Chikankari Embroidery of Lucknow

The name ‘chikan’ seems to have been derived from the Persian word, either ‘Chikan’, ‘Chikin’ or ‘Chikeen’. It means a kind of cloth wrought with needle–work. Although it originated as a court craft, today it is a practiced tradition and an important commercial activity.

Chikan work has very light, gossamer – like quality. This makes it very suitable for the seemingly hot climate of the northern plain region. Chikankari received great impetus during the Nawabi period. The source of most design motifs in Chikankari is Mughal. These motifs can also be seen in the ornamentation of Mughal buildings like the Taj Mahal and the monuments of Fatehpur Sikri.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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