India is a country anywhere else in the world. With a history dating back to centuries ago every aspect of this place is unique and filled with wonderment. The roots of Indian culture and heritage can be traced to Uttar Pradesh. The state has seen a varied and dynamic past of various conquerors from different parts of the world which have resulted in the creation of a beautiful blend of different beliefs and traditions. This can be seen from the visible remains of art, architecture, literature, and arts. Home of Taj Mahal, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the place where Lord Buddha attained nirvana and turned the wheel of Dhamma introducing the world to Buddhism, meeting point or the Triveni Sangam of the holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati among other such incredible places, UP is a Pandora box of surprises for travelers.
Did you know that archaeological finds and discoveries trace the history of Uttar Pradesh to as far back as the stone ages when the region was inhabited by hunter-gatherers? The Indus valley civilization and Harappan civilization also developed in these parts of the subcontinent. Later on, due to the fertile Indo Gangetic plains, a number of emperors and conquerors were attracted to conquer it. Some of these empires were established by Maurya, Kushan, and Gupta and reached its peak during the Harshavardhana Empire. Prior to the British conquest UP was also under the rule of the Delhi sultanate and Mughal Empire.
Due to these reasons UP underwent through some incredible changes which have helped in shaping it as the cultural center of India.
Customs and Traditions of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is inhabited by people from different background and from across India. The religion practiced here is primarily Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism. The holiest and one of the oldest living cities in the world Varanasi is an iconic legendary city which is located on the banks of the holy river of Ganga. Because of its religious, spiritual and mythological value, this place remains thronged by Devouts from all over the world. People come here to wash away their sins and attain Moksha in river Ganga through one of the many Ghats or offer their prayer at the holiest Shiva temple in Kashi Vishwanath.
People make sure to perform the Aarti ritual in the evening at sunset, while also lighting up a Diya and sending it down the river. Apart from these different people follow different ways of life in UP. The customs and traditions here are so unique that people from all over the world come here to experience it. Since all these rituals have been performed here throughout ages the vibe of UP is very positive and deeply refreshing.
Traditional Costume of Uttar Pradesh
The clothing style and traditional costume for men and women in UP are almost the same that the rest of north and central has, majorly. In the case of women, they prefer to wear saris and Salwar Suits. Working or college-going girls wear jeans, Kurtis, t-shirts, and tops nowadays (but not in remote villages). As a part of traditional wear, men prefer kurta pajama or a dhoti, especially in villages. It is also because the temperature hampers you from wearing jeans or trousers and the cotton made Kurtas and dhotis are also available at reasonable rates. On formal occasions however men wear Pagris and Sherwanis while the women wear long embellished skirts or Ghagras with a Blose or Choli which is adorned with colorful patterns and glimmering mirror work. Women residing in remote village regions of UP wear accessories like necklaces, bracelets, anklets, bangles etc.
Cuisines of Uttar Pradesh
Due to its colorful past UP got the chance to create some of the most authentic delicacies which can be savored today as well. The primary influence in the food of UP is the Nawabi cuisines. When someone mentions UP one thing comes to mind i.e. Dum Pukht which is like the unofficial state food. The process involves intense combining of the flavorful ingredients inside a sealed clay pot and cooked very slowly and lightly over long period of time. Being home to numerous holy shrines and temples, a major part of the population prefers vegetarian food over non-vegetarian which include, Rice, Dal, seasonal vegetables and all cooked in ground Masalas. During some auspicious time of the year, as a tradition, people make Pooris and Kachoris. Some other famous delicacies among the vegetarians here include Tahri Rice, Nargisi Kofta, food made with saffron or Khoya, etc. the Muslim population residing here are known world-wide for delicious kebabs, Koftas and of course, Nihari. Some fish cuisines are also found here but they are not as popular. In case of sweets and desserts, there is no dearth of it and Petha especially is very popular.
Festivals in Uttar Pradesh
By now, you must know that UP is one of the most colorful, lively and vibrant places which is a result of peaceful coexistence of different cultures together. The festivals here are celebrated on a large scale and with immense vigor. Here are some festivals celebrated in UP and if possible one should definitely plan their vacation around this time:
Ganga Dussehra: This unique and lesser hard about festivals in UP is celebrated only in certain places of the state. As the name suggests, it is dedicated to the life-giving Ganga River during the summer month of June every year. Dussehra term signifies the 10 days of celebration that people indulge in, to honor this holy source of livelihood that flows through the city.
Lathmar Holi: Holi is undoubtedly one of the most grand festivals in India. Things are different at the Lathmar Holi in Barsana which takes place a day before the actual date of Holi as a part of the traditions. The ladies use sticks or laths to hit the men who shield themselves. It is a very common sight which is used to signify the way Lord Krishna used to play Holi with the Gopis.
Buddha Purnima: This auspicious day is celebrated all over the country especially by the followers of Buddhism. However, in UP this day is celebrated in a more grand and opulent manner. This day marks the birth of Gautam Buddha, the founder of the 3rd largest religion in the world i.e. Buddhism. Days before the Buddha Purnima people start preparing for it.
Ayodhya Puja: It goes without saying that Ayodhya is one of the holiest cities in India since it is the birthplace of lord ram. This Puja is the biggest and the grandest celebration of lord ram that takes place annually during the months of October or November. Since the people residing in UP are avid followers of lord ram this festival is much awaited throughout the year.