Garhwal Himalaya has its own distinguished historical traditions and religious importance due to its geographical significance, cultural heritage and social background. The people of Pauri Garhwal as a part of Garhwal Himalaya share this rich heritage in their life styles, which root with their tough economic and hardworking day-to-day life, their work culture and faith in physical labour.
The population in urban areas and yatra routes have intermixed their culture with the visitors and people from other part of the country. A typical Garhwali, Short, Stout, Hardworking & Honest has to be met in the interior hills and villages. They are simple and shy people, closest to the nature.
Society in the District is a mixed one – Brahmins, Rajputs, Harijans (Scheduled Castes) being the major constituents. Each caste group is subdivided in sub-groups and sub-castes. Inter-caste marriage is forbidden but exception and breeches of the rules are tolerated. The main profession of the villagers is agriculture and animal husbandry.
Customs & Traditions
The various customs and traditions of the District are founded on the Hindu religion. “Shiva” is most widely regarded and “Durga” in different forms is also worshipped throughout the District. Most of the fairs and festivals in the District are associated with the worship of the above. Religious faiths and superstitions are deep rooted amongst the people. Individual function on a new birth, marriage, death etc. govern by ancient customs and traditions. For everything, peopledepends heavily on the astrological forecast of the Brahmins for its auspiciousness.
Besides the Gods of the Hindu religion, Local Gods are also worshipped by the people. These include “ Narankar ”, “ NarSingh (Doundiya & Dhudiya) ”, “ Bhairon ”, “ Nagaraja ”, “ Kshetrapal ” etc. People believe in Ghosts, Witches etc. and tantra-mantra are used to cure disease and prevent calamities. Tantra-Mantra plays an important role in some customs which are executed at the places called “Shiddhpith” and on the confluence of two rivers. In the District, the places like Binser Mahadev, Kingkaleswer Temple, Kanda, Jwalpadevi, Dharidevi are very popular for such practices. A number of fair and festival are organized in which sacrifice of he-buffalos, goats & sheep are made for the worship of God or Goddess. The services of a “ Jagri ” or “ Garudi ” or “ Dhami ” are called to treat afflictions caused by “ Ghosts ”, “ Witches ” and “ Angry Gods ”. The “ Bakya ” or “ Sooth Sayers ” is a unique institution in practice. He or she is supposed to read the past and future of the people in trouble and presents the solution, which can include sacrifices and rituals.
Costume & Ornaments
With the growing influence of developing society and outside people, the traditional costumes are almost extinct. Now only “ Kamarbandth ”, a kind of waistband and “ Julka ”, a chaddar used as a head-gear, are seen with the old-aged women and women working in terraced fields. Jewellery is widely used. Traditional nose ornaments include “ Nath ”, “ Phuli ” & “ Bulak ”. “ Murkhala ”, “ Tops ”, “ Kundal ” are worn on the ears. Necklaces include “ Hansuli ”, “ Mala ”, “ Kandi ” & “ Gulband ”. Bangles include “ Dhagule ” and “ Kangan ”. Foot ornaments include “ Jhinvara ”, “ Paunta ”, “ Lacha ” and “ Dhagula ”.
Because of the climate condition, people are generally meat-eater. Even Brahmins eat meat. Roti prepared with the flour of “ Manduwa ” and “ Bhats ” cooked of Rice, “ Jhingora ” and “ Kaouni ” are the traditional food of the people. Pulses include “ Urda ”, “ Gahat ”, “ Bhatt ”, “ Thora ”, “ Rayansh ”, “ Chimmi ”, “ Massoor ” etc. Other cuisines include “ Badi ”, “ Paleo ”, “ Chainsu ”, “ Bhattwani ”, “ Ghaithani ”, “ Chainchya ”, “ Rot ”, “ Pathod ”, “ Lagdi ”, “ Baruo roti of Pulses ” etc. On special occasion, “ Dal ki Pakori ”, “ Swale ”, “ Arsa ”, “ Halwa ” etc. are prepared. Married daughter carry “ Kandi ” (basket) of “ Arsa ” and “ Rot ” to her in-laws house. Traditionally, happy occasions are celebrated by breaking “ Bheli ” made of gur and distributed to all villagers.