India is known for its geographical and cultural diversity. The 27th state of the country Uttarakhand known as the Devbhoomi or the ‘Land of Gods’ brims with diversity. After every few miles, one comes across a different language, attire, culture, and geographical feature. The Kumaon region consists of 6 districts of the state and boasts of very rich heritage, although the culture is almost similar to the 7 other districts but there are slight differences. Taking a glance at the life of ‘Hillywood,’ the rural area of the state is nothing less than a breathtaking experience.
If someone wishes to explore the real Uttarakhand, the tourist destinations are not the right places to visit. One should go and explore the villages which are the soul of the state. Joint families living in a house made of wood, soil, stone or patthar are the pakka makan. Usually, the ground floor is kept for the cattle or used as a store for farming. First floor and second floor consist of the hall, kitchen and rooms. The chulha or fire to cook food is present in the kitchen which is used to prepare tasty food. Also, it keeps the house warm as most part of the state experiences harsh winters. The slanted rooftop helps to get rid of the snow in winter.
Pahadi food is unique and tasty. It is not usually found in any other part of the world. The cannabis (bhang) that other people take as a drug is one of the major food items. Pahadis make it as a chutney and use it in different vegetable to add flavours which is absolutely delicious. And yes, it doesn’t harm health, only keeps you warm in the winter. Bal Mithai is a famous sweet here. Rice flour is used to make different dishes. Milk products are part of the diet but prepared in a unique way. Madua which looks like chocolate is used to make roti. A Pahadi thali (platter) not only looks scrumptious but, it tastes heavenly and is unique.
Well, Pahadis are not only blessed with natural beauty but also with beautiful people. The unique traditional jewellery and dress make the Pahadi women look even more attractive. The traditional chunari pichoda which is a yellow coloured cloth with red dots is a compulsory part of the attire for married women. The large nose ring is the identity of Pahadi women, a special necklace globand and different kinds of bangles called ponji can be seen in special occasions like marriage, parties.
The important thing about Pahadi women is, they are beauty combined with brain and strength. Adventurous activities like trekking is a part of the daily routine for Pahadi ladies.
They may look sensitive but they can actually carry water, grass, stones, heavy luggage on their strong shoulders. That is why the Pahadi people are known to be physically fit and active.
In the hills, celebration means togetherness in every festival and is celebrated collectively. The whole village is like a large family. Holi is more about singing and dancing than playing with colours. The excitement of the celebration among the old as well as the kids is the same. Apart from Holi and Diwali, almost every month a local festival is celebrated by all with joy and happiness. It is always about people coming together and sharing happiness.
Traditional dance forms, instruments and music are still alive in the villages. People forget the pubs and DJs when they listen to the beats of the Choliya dance. Pahadi weddings are incomplete without men dressed in female and performing their art and stunts that entertain people. The Pahadi music is as soothing as foot tapping.
Far from the fast and busy life of cities, these villages remind us of who we are, they help us to find peace within ourselves. Sitting here and thinking about life is the best thing one can do. It is a place full of happiness, positivity and affinity, a place where people still care about each other, share happiness, live together and celebrate together. Well, the data connection may not be strong here but the connection amongst people is worth cherishing.
(The information in this photo feature is based on the author’s personal experience and knowledge. Pictures used in this feature are from their personal gallery and few of them are picked from social media.)