The culture of Nainital is colourful and varied. The cultural heritage of Nainital is stirred by the traditions of its indigenous groups, the Kumaoni and Garhwali, and remnants of colonial follies by the British. The beautiful mountain ranges and tranquil lakes of Nainital act as a muse to poets, artists, and writers, safeguarding and promoting its cultural heritage.
Let’s know in detail about the culture of Nainital:-
Normal Day in Nainital
Waking up to fresh air and sunshine marks a regular day in Nainital. The Mall Road is a place where people can walk a mile to take in the aroma of tasty food and peruse the several shops in the vicinity that sell local products. In the evening, most of them prefer to take a boat ride on the serene Naini Lake enjoying the reflection of the hills on its reflecting waves. People, looking for some adventure, may decide to hike along one of the beautiful trails that meander across the region’s hills. Some might want to spend some time in the legendary Naina Devi Temple, overlooking the northern side of the water, to get blessings and understand the calmness of the spirit.
As the evening settles in, Nainital becomes a plethora of unforeseen opportunities to savour the local food at the quaint little eateries and restaurants spread across this town. Whether it is a hot plate of piping hot momos at Tibetan Market or a hearty traditional Kumaoni meal, there is something to tickle the taste buds of every traveller. Evenings are mostly spent in browsing through shops, buying handicrafts, and enjoying the street shows in Mall Road. Lastly, as the darkness falls, visitors retire to homely residences, amid hills, probably gulping a hot beverage of cocoa or chai while indulging in memories of the day’s exploits, anxious to find tomorrow in Nainital.
People of Nainital
The people of Nainital are cordial and hospitable which presents the image of a friendly hill station. They have a strong attachment to their cultural identity and celebrate traditional festivals with passion. Many local people can be categorized as artisans who are known for their workmanship when making handicrafts and textiles. The people of Nainital are known as Kumaoni. They have occupied this place for centuries and dwell in the hills surrounded by little hut-shaped houses full of stones or red bricks with tin roofs.
Religious beliefs of Nainital
They are extremely pious and quite superstitious like the Black Kajal that they apply on their forehead to escape any evil and spirit. The Gods in Nainital include Lord Bholenath, Naina Devi, Gangnath, Nanda Devi, Kail Bisht, Sunanda Devi, Golu, Haru, Sam and Adi. They also practice ‘Jaagar’ – a form of calling on their gods and deities which is performed only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Language of Nainital
The main language spoken in Nainital is Hindi. On the other hand, the language structure of the region is also dominated by the presence of the Kumaoni language, which is native to the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand. As one of the regional languages used in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Kumaoni is culturally significant alongside Garhwali, another vernacular tongue, found in family and community gatherings. Apart from the development of the Hindi language, English is also broadly known, especially in popular with tourists, and amongst the educated class.
Food Culture of Nainital
The food culture of Nainital encompasses several types of grains, pulses, and traditional cuisine. Rice serves as the staple food in the diet and people sometimes include wheat, Mandua, and other grains. In the cooking process of Nainital, the chief popular pulses present are Urad Gahat Bhatt and Masur. Dishes of meats are common cuisines and ceremonial meals comprise several delicacies which include Kheer, Singhal, Poori, Pua, Bada, and Kapa prepared out of Palak, Raita, Khatai, and others. Besides, popular Kumaoni dishes such as Chudkani and Bhattiya prepared from Bhatt and soya bean, Gautras prepared from Gahat, and Jholee prepared from Mattha are enjoyed. Some residents also opt for fish dishes, there are Tharus and Bengali settlers who bring their cuisines to the mix.
Festivals of Nainital
The festivals of Nainital are lively and eclectic showcasing the cultural quilt of the area. Nanda Devi Mela is one of the most prominent festivals in the area; marked by the revelry of the masses to worship the Nanda Devi goddess. On this festival, colourful processions cultural performances, and religious Pooja is performed is performed with great fervour and zeal thus attracting devotees from the nook and corner. One of the important festivals during this season is Uttarayani indicating the beginning of the harvesting season. On this notable day of renewed life and prosperity, the celebration is marked with a kite flying competition, music, and feast.
However, apart from Uttarayani, Phool Dei is a festival of equal importance since it announces the coming of spring. Young girls wearing flowers cover the community with lengthy visits from house to house singing traditional songs, bringing blessing and happiness with every passing step during Phool Dei. Moreover, the Hariyala Fair, held in the rainy season, is a time of bustling festivities when the locals celebrate rich natural vegetation and the fruitfulness of nature. Other festivals such as Holi, Diwali, and Navratri are celebrated with great fervour, whereby the communities celebrate with joy and happiness. The festivals not only magnify the cultural history of Nainital but also act as unison to Nainital’s residents.
Art and Craft of Nainital
The Kumaoni culture has a very special ritual of decorating Aanchal clothes with beautifully colored designs. On special occasions, such as marriages or festivals, a woman wears a cloth known as Pichora or Rangwali. This material is approximately 3 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, yellow-dyed, and decorated with red patterns, such as Swastika, sun, moon, bell, and conch shell symbols.
Women use rice paste mixed with ochre to decorate the floors and walls of their homes not only for festivals and ceremonies but also for making beautiful patterns. The flooring of the worship area and seats of Gods and Goddess are decorated by a special form of patterns called Peeth or Yantra that look like diagrams depicting the dwelling place of the deities.
As a result, in the events of naming ceremonies, designs manifested on wooden seats show symbols such as the sun and moon. Seats at the wedding may feature designs that depict a large water jug, indicating the water from which the world originated. These traditions bring about colour and significance to major occurrences in the Kumaoni culture.