The people of Himachal pradesh are simple, sophisticated ,warm, friendly and hospitable. However they are very firm when it comes to their traditions.They are quite unaffected by external norms and fashion, therefore one can find an untouched beauty in their lifestyle.They are proud of their rich cultural heritage at the same time being friendly to outsiders and visitors.Their passion for life reflects in their amazing colorful dressing and splendid festivals.
People and culture
Around 90% of Population of Himachalis consists of Hindus. But in some areas there is majority of Buddhist population because of the nearness of the state of Tibet.The main Hindu communities are Brahmins, Rajputs, Rathis, Kannets ,Kolis.The state also has large tribal population. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people here.
Though Hindi is state language, most of the people speak Pahari. Pahari again has many dialects and its origin is in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Hindi and Punjabi are widely spoken. Therefore if you want to communicate with locals, you can speak to them in Hindi. But learning a bit of Pahari is not a bad idea if you want to feel more at home in this place.You can also strike interesting conversation with local people if you gain some command over Pahari language.
Society and Religion
People of Himachal Pradesh are extremely Religious and have immense faith in power of God and nature.Himachal identified as Dev Bhoomi is believed to be abode of Gods. In Himachal Pradesh there are six important Religious communities .The Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, The Sikhs and the Jains.The Hindus of Himachal Pradesh worship lord Rama, Krishna and Shiva with reverences and singing their praises.However their presiding Deity is Shiva and many of them are naturally drawn to Mani Mahesh lake.The sacred Kailash peak is considered to be abode of lord Shiva.There are large number of temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva throughout the state.You can also find Temples of God Brahma at Khokhan near Kullu as Adi Brahma where he has one Ashta Dhatu, eleven silver and two brass Mohras fixed in the rath. Brahma’s consort is further worshiped at Malkota near Bharmour in Chamba district as Brahmani devi. A brass idol of Brahma and Brahmani devi riding a lion is chief object of adoration. Another temple of Adi Brahma is at Tihri (Uttarsal ) in Mandi district.
Famous temples of Himachal Pradesh
It is one of the most beautiful temple in Kangra valley. The Shiva temple has amazing architecture . It is believed that it was here that Raavan worshiped Lord Shiva to attain immortality.
The Bhimkali temple is situated in Sarahan district of Himachal Pradesh. This temple is one of the Shakti Peeths.
The Shree Vajrashwari temple dedicated to the Goddess Vajreshwari, located in the town Nagarkot in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. The legend says that after Goddess Sati sacrificed herself in the honor of Lord Shiva in her father’s Yagna, Shiva took her body on his shoulders and started Tandav.
In order to stop him from destroying the world Lord Vishnu divided the body of Sati into 51 parts with Chakra.The left breast of Sati fell at this spot thus making it a Shakti Peeth.
Chamunda Devi temple
The Chamunda devi temple in Himachal Pradesh is located 10 km west of Palampur in the Kangra ditrict of Himachal pradesh. It stands on the banks of famous Ban Gang river, the temple has sacred idol of Chamunda Devi wrapped by a red cloth.
Naina Devi Temple
Shri Naina Devi temple is one of the most notable places of worship in Himachal Pradesh located is Bilaspur District. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths where limbs of Sati fell on earth.
Costume of Himachal Pradesh
The outfit of Himachalis are very vibrant and colorful. They are mostly hand woven outfits with elegant designs. Its mostly weaved manually and the handlooms are very famous. Brahmin priests wear dhotis and kurtas with pagri. Rajput men generally wear sherwani with an attractive chudidar.The women of Himachal generally wear kurtas, ghagharas, salwars and cholis.The Pashmina shawls is a very famous product of the state which is renowed over the world for its fine quality. It is made by the hair of Pashmina goat.The light weight shawl is very warm and embroidered with silk of delicate design .
Festivals of Himachal Pradesh
Himachalis are full of spirit and life .As it is land of different cultures .Every festival is celebrated with full vigor and excitement. Every Temple, Monastery, Church and Gurudwara has its own celebrations. Even tourist can become part of these festivals and enjoy the grand celebration.
The festival of Baisakhi or Beesh is first festival of every Vikrami Samuat year celebrated on the first day of month of Baisakhi.(March to April) Most of the villagers prepare good dishes like poltu, halwa and koyashid. The image of Goddess is brought out of the temple and fair is held in the courtyard of the temple. It is an occasion for a get together and celebration.
During this festival houses are cleaned .A Shivlinga (phallic symbol) is prepared with flowers and leaves .The Linga is hung from roof. A temple is made on the floor with flour. The entire family keeps awake during the night. Songs are sung in honour of lord Shiva and the food is placed round the temple made up of flour.
Dusshera of Himachal pradesh, specially of Kullu is famous throughout the country.The Dhalpur maidan is excellently decorated for Rath festival. The idol of Raghunath ji is taken in a chariot along with all the local deities. The Rathyatra which signifies Lord Rama’s march over the lanka is watched by thousands of visitors.
This festival is celebrated on Karthik Amavasya in the month of October or November. On this day villagers clean their houses and plaster the walls and floors with cow dung.The walls are decorated with flower garlands. Goddess Laksmi was worshipped.At evenings lamps are lit and sweets were distributed.
Phagul or Suskar
The Suskar festival is celebrated mostly in the month of Phagun. In this festival, the spirit of Kanda (peaks) called Kali is mainly worshiped. It is celebrated all over Kinnaur district.
Lavi fair, the biggest trade fair of Himalayas is celebrated at Rampur every year. In this fair, traders of Kinnaur, Lahaul, Spiti come to sell their raw and finished wool, woolen blankets, horses, mules etc .
During the Navratas, in the end of September or early part of October, thousands of devotees come at the shrine of Durga Devi in Kangra at Bilaspur district. Durga fairs are held at the temple of Jwalamukhi.Kangra, Chamunda, Chintpuri and Naina Devi also.
Minjar fair is the renowed fair of Chamba area. This fair is held on the third Sunday of Bikrami sawant month.Thousands of people visit the fair in their best costumes.
This fair is held to respect the sacrifice of Rani Naina devi who laid down her life and become instrumental for bringing water to the chamba town. A temple called after her name is still present in the town.
This fair is meant for the women folk of the area and the menfolk are not permitted to to enjoy the dance and songs of womenfolk.
Renuka was the mother of Parshuram, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. In old days Renuka along with her husband saint Jamdagni used to live on the banks of lake, now called Renuka lake.Her son,who was in the Samadhi in the Garahwal region, used to come here, once a year to meet his mother.
The fair celebrates meeting of mother and son every year in the month of October or November. Thousands of people participates in Bhajans and also take holy dip in the Renuka lake.