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Culture of Uttar Pradesh

Culture encompasses the way of life of a society. It includes the attitude of the people towards others, their behavior, mannerisms and ways to celebrate different aspects of life. It also includes the ways in which the people express themselves through fine and performing arts. Uttar Pradesh's greatest gifts to humanity are the two epics, 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata'. From the epic age, the territory of Uttar Pradesh being watered by several fresh streams of culture, the two most significant being those generated by the teachings of the Buddha and Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar. The fountainheads of Brahmanical culture were centered at holy places as Kashi, Ayodhya, Prayag, Mathura and the Himalayan hermitages. Mathura has proved to be a veritable store-house of buried ancient art, both of the Brahmanical and Buddhist varieties and Kashi, which has withstood the ravages of times, of living Hindu art. Its people belong to many religions and come from distant parts of the country but have had the latitude to recreate their own native cultures. Afghans, Kashmiris, Bengalis, Parsis and Punjabi immigrants settled here. Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists all found the freedom to practice their religions and pass it on to successive generations. While it is secular, liberal and progressive, at the same time it is deeply rooted in social and religious traditions and taboos.

Uttar Pradesh is a melting pot of cultures. Society is basically patriarchal. Families are nuclear, joint and extended. Now joint families have become rare. Much due to the advent of British in India family structure changed as new agrarian systems put a burden on famers and it became hard for one to look after whole family. New commercial changes that have given rise to self-dependent youngsters are also a reason for less popularity of joint family systems. People are generally habituated to all type of clothing but it is still considered modest to wear traditional dresses for women.

Urbanization is rapidly taking place and changing the rural landscape. Now many of facilities that were once thought to be distant dream for villagers are reaching to them easily. Caste System plays a major role in decisions of day to day life of people. Caste system is dominated and those who do not follow the diktats of Kangaroo Courts are often ostracized but scenario is quite different in urban centers where live-in type relations are becoming common. New generation is highly ambitious and don’t want to be tangled in the name of ethics and morality of older traditional values. Though it is somewhat negative as older generations are left to feed and look after for themselves, it is worth economic development of the Uttar Pradesh. People generally follow Hinduism and Islam while there are Buddhism and Jainism too in small patches. In dietary habits people are almost vegetarian. Non vegetarianism is also common but not much abundant. Cow slaughter in state is banned. Cow is worshipped as mother not only in Uttar Pradesh but across country. Uttar Pradesh is divided in 5 cultural Regions;

  • Awadh/ Oudh Region
  • Braj Region
  • Bundelkhand Region
  • Ruhelkhand/Rohilkhand Region
  • Bhojpuri Region

Braj Region :
Braj region is basically comprised of Mathura, Agra, Aligarh and surrounding Districts. Society is agrarian but tourism is more developed in this region as Agra and Mathura are two regions that attract tourists more than any region.

Society : Society is Patriarchal like most of Uttar Pradesh and male elders are considered heads. Though many governmental schemes like LPG connection that is given only in the name of female elder of the house has brought somewhere female on front but in decision making they are considered subordinate to men. Caste System is abundant in this region but in much liberal form. Generally people of Scheduled Castes are treated badly or humiliated but that in exceptional cases. Villagers live on principle of mutual cooperation. Caste ostracities are rarely reported. Much to the surprise all people gather and take part in functions and religious ceremonies that are organized by local administration forgetting all differences.

Clothing : Generally people wear pants and shirts or t-shirts but some elderly and rural folk also wear Dhoti-Kurta or Kurta-Pajama. Women are used to wearing Ghaghra, a long skirt type dress and tops made in traditional style. Saree is another common dress worn by women. Salwar-Kamiz is also a popular dress that has come from Mughal inheritance.

Occupation : People are generally engaged in primary or tertiary activities. Most are employed in jobs of commercial nature, their own businesses, call centers, army or in government jobs. Agriculture is the most common occupation for the people and generally villages are self-sustained. People help each other in needs or in economic crises but poverty is abundant many living below poverty line and mocking all government efforts for the upliftment of the poor.

Entertainment : People are generally having electronic media for entertainment. In public entertainments Folk Songs like Jhoola, Hori, Fag and Rasia are identity of this region which is organized by men and women on several occasions. On marriage ceremonies people sing folk songs and beat Dholak. Several energetic and fast folk dances are also common which could led you move you your feet to dance. Krishna-Janmashtami is most popular festival of this region.

Religious Beliefs : People follow Hinduism besides Islam. Other religions are less common. Radha and Krishna are most common deities who are worshipped in many forms. Holi, Diwali, Id-ul-Fitr are some of the most common festivals.

Awadh or Oudh Region :
Awadh is the largest cultural division of Uttar Pradesh. Awadh has been the region of princely states and famous for its Royal Grandeurs. All royalty you can see in the culture of this region. This was a region which gave most infantry to the Colonial British Army. This region comprises of Lucknow, Kanpur, Faizabad, Barabanki and Rae Bareli districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Society : Society is Patriarchal but most noticed feature of this region is that female is considered more respectable in Awadh region than in any other cultural region of Uttar Pradesh. It doesn’t mean that torture of female is not reported but female has more say in family matters. Traditions are such that consider female more respectable like girls get higher value than a boy in family. Caste System is abundant. People live with peace cooperating each other.

Occupation : Agriculture and services are most common occupations of this region. Though services and commercialization around big cities like Lucknow and Kanpur have raised areas of employment but still dependency on agriculture is to greater extent. People are less prosperous than any other region but this region is more peaceful and has more cultural values than any other region.

Clothing : People wear modern dresses. Among women Saree and Salwar-kurta are most wearable dresses. People wear simple clothes. Glamour and fashion do not dominate in this region except some few highly urbanized patches.

Entertainment : In folk songs are Alha, Kajli and Sohar. Sohar is sung on child-births. People gather to participate in such traditions and make traditional values richer.

Religious beliefs : In Hinduism this region mainly see Rama as main deity. Dussehra and Ram-navami are most common festivals enjoyed here.

Bundelkhand Region :
This region has Jhansi, Mahoba, Lalitpur and surrounding districts. This is the region where Rani Lakshmibai fought British regiment and chose martyrdom. This region has also great and valorous Orchha Rulers who fought for their honor.

Society : People are generally poor especially rural folk as this region is the most drought affected region of Uttar Pradesh and have less produce and irrigational facilities that has given poverty to this region. Society is patriarchal and families are generally extended.

Clothing : Women wear Ghaghra, Salwar-Kurta and Sarees. Men are accustomed to modern dresses with some elderly seen in Dhoti-Kurta which is fading now.

Occupation : People are engaged in agriculture and majority of youth migrate in search of employment to cities as agriculture is not subsistence. Some people are also engaged in petty works like selling small household goods and groceries but that is less common.

Entertainment : Most spoken language of this region is Bundeli. Folk Songs are Alha, Panwara, Hardaul. Dance forms that are common in this region are Ghoda Nritya, Dhuriya Nritya, Khyal, Rai and Deep Nritya.

Religious Beliefs : People follow Islam and Hinduism. All Hindu Gods and goddesses are worshipped with some greater or lesser extent.

Ruhelkhand or Rohilkhand Region :
Ruhel or Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh mainly comprise of Badaun, Bulandshahr, Pilibhit, Bijnor, Meerut, Ghaziabad and cities of N-W UP. This is the most commercialized and urbanized region of Uttar Pradesh. The main reason for its advancement is its location around capital city Delhi.

Society : Society is extremely patriarchal. Kangaroo Courts like Khap Panchayats are dominating and caste system is more rigid than any other region of UP. People are mostly affluent with resources and agriculture. The most dominating caste is Jats. Dalit suppression and crime against women are abundant. Female are least empowered in this region in terms of influence and decision making even if they are materially rich. Honor killings are most reported from this region. In spite of richness and resources people are less inclined to intellectual development and material pleasure is most sought after.

Clothing : Women wear Pajama and traditional tops with Dupatta on heads. Men generally wear Dhoti-Kurta and Kurta pajama with a turban on head. Head dresses are a matter of honor.

Occupation : Agriculturally this region is prosperous and people have large patches of lands. Wheat production and dairy farming are common sources of livelihood.

Entertainment : Like other regions this region too has some folk traditional values. Lavani and Bahtarbil are famous folk songs besides songs sung on various traditional ceremonies. There are several other folk drama forms like Nautanki and Ramlila.

Religious Beliefs : People are mostly Hindu and religious beliefs are staunch in this region. Some districts often see religious violence but common folk are less engaged in such activities. Political parties are often alleged of playing games and inciting violence in the name of releigion.

Bhojpuri Region :

Society : Society and male dominated and female has lesser say in family affairs. Generally female are subjected to domestic violence in common but there are families that respect female. Caste System is dominant though people organize and take part in several ritualistic and traditional ceremonies.

Clothing : Saree is worn by female and men generally wear Kurta-Pajama besides Pants Shirts. Salwar-Kurta and its many styles are popular with young girls. Modernization of female in matters of clothing is less tolerated and generally criticized by others like neighbors

Occupation : Agricultural is a way to living. Some youth engage in commercial activities. Work-migration is most common in this region as it has larger population and lesser employment opportunities.

Entertainment : Folk songs and folk dances are enjoyed when people gather in ceremonies rest electronic media is most popular form of entertainment. In lack of electricity supply people often gather and gossip in evenings.

Popular folk songs are kajali, Birha, Nakata, Kawwali and folk dances are Natwari which are performed by Ahir community.

Religious beliefs : People follow Islam and Hinduism in majority. Rama, Shiva and Krishna are some common deities that are worshipped everywhere beside Durga, Lakshmi and Kali among goddesses.

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Uttar Pradesh At a Glance
  • Population:3,676,841
  • Area :1,535 sq.kms
  • Geo Location:North
  • Average Climate:5°C - 20°C
  • Best time to visit:October - March
  • STD Code:0542

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