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Culture of Uttar Pradesh

Situated in the northern part of India, Uttar Pradesh has been the cultural seat of the country for a very long time. The history of Uttar Pradesh is fascinating, and it has shaped a rich cultural heritage of the state that has emerged as the focal point of the Indian culture. The Mauryans, the Mughals, the British, etc. all brought with them their own cultural traits, and bits and pieces of them were absorbed by the people in the region, forming their own distinct and rich pluralistic culture.

The culture of Uttar Pradesh embodies a rich tradition of folk arts, crafts, literature, painting and music. The state has a plethora of holy shrines of various religions, architectural masterpieces- most famous of them being of course the Taj Mahal- and is home to a number of fascinating performing arts and colourful festivities. All these factors have enriched the composite culture of the state. To sum up, the culture of Uttar Pradesh is rich in arts, music, dance, theatrics, folk art, crafts and cuisines.

Uttar Pradesh is the place where one of the six foremost classical dances of India, the Kathaka, flourished. The word Katha, from which the name is derived, means story. It originated in northern India, during the 7th century A.D. Kathak has very intricate and complex movements of hands and feet along with facial expressions. The footwork is accompanied by the music of various percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhwaj, which are native to north India.

Folk arts of Uttar Pradesh include theatrical forms such as the Braj Raslila, which is associated with the life of the lover-God, Lord Krishna. The Ramlila is another such art form dealing with the life of Lord Rama. Charukala is another folk dance of the state. The dance of Charkula involves a female dancer balancing a column of lighted deepikas over her head while dancing. Then there are songs of Rasiya, which describe the love of Radha and Shri Krishna. Charkula and Rasiya are native arts of the Braj region of the state.

One of the important crafts of Uttar Pradesh is chikankari, which entails delicate and traditional hand embroidery. This form of handicrafts is mainly practiced in Lucknow. It is done on fabrics like chiffon, doruya, muslin, organza, organdie and silk. Chikan saris and kurtas make the perfect summer wear. Zardoji embroidery is another unique art where the embroidery is done in three dimensions. Zari works of Benaras are famous the world over. Pottery, carpentry and exquisite metal ware products are also created on a large scale in Uttar Pradesh. Carpet weaving is also an important cultural expression of Uttar Pradesh. The state caters to 90 percent of the country's carpets and the carpet weaving centers in the state are primarily located around Mirzapur, Khamaria and Bhadohi.

Where the fine arts of painting and music are concerned, Uttar Pradesh has contributed a lot to the cultural heritage of India. Indeed, the tradition of painting in the state dates back to the prehistoric times, with cave paintings in Sonbhadra and Chitrakoot depicting scenes of war, dances, festivals and hunting, etc. In the medieval ages, more particularly during the reign of Jehangir, Uttar Pradesh emerged as a centre of miniature paintings. Garhwal school of painting also flourished in Uttar Pradesh. Hindustani classical music has gained considerable footage in the state due to the patronage of the rulers of Uttar Pradesh over centuries.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/16

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