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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Himachal Pradesh >> Culture of Himachal Pradesh

Culture of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh has a rich tradition of folk music and dances that mark all festive occasions. The folklore is replete with themes of valour and legendary love stories. The famous 'Natti' dance of Kullu is performed mainly by men wearing short tunics and churidars (tights) and the embroidered Kullu caps. Martial dances like the 'Burah' in Sirmaur and Birsue and 'Ghugti' in upper Shimla are performed with the waving of axes and swords. Beautiful Kinnauri women dressed in traditional costumes with chunky silver jewellery perform the 'Bakayang' dance. Masked dances recounting romantic and satirical themes are performed in the Jubbal and Rohru valleys of Shimla.

Himachalis celebrate fairs and festivals throughout the year with dance and music. The Buddhist gompas or monasteries have famous mask dances, performed by the lamas. The Losor festival is celebrated with the 'chhaam' dance to celebrate the death of the oppressive 9th century Tibetan ruler Langdarma. Performed in elaborate costumes and masks, the dance marks the triumph of good over evil.

In autumn, 'Fullaich' or the Festival of flowers is celebrated in the villages of Kinnaur. Villagers collect wild flowers and make offerings to the local deity. Every twelve years, there are special celebrations, which are marked by singing, dancing, and merrymaking. The Dussehra celebrations of Kullu in October are a curious amalgamation of tribal and Hindu religious beliefs. Over two hundred local deities are brought into the valley on palanquins and Lord Raghunath is worshipped to the accompaniment of music and dance. The Dussehra festival, commemorating the victory of Lord Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu) over the demon king Ravana, is celebrated throughout the country, but has a special flavour here in Kullu.

The 'Lavi' fair at Rampur on the India -Tibet road, is a centuries-old gathering of traders from Ladakh, Tibet and Afghanistan. This ancient trade route was a lifeline for the local people, who traded in wool, dry fruits and horses. Though the entire area has opened up to the rest of the country with improved communication links, this traditional fair still holds a relevance and importance in the lives of the locals.

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