Posted by Mayank Kanwal
, December 25, 2017 at 10:45 am, in Almora Uttarakhand India
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““Kumaon” –a region in the state of Uttarakhand is blessed with wide nature scenario and misty mountains. Kumaon is also the administrative region of Uttarakhand, commonly speaking language is hindi and the native language of Kumaon is Kumaoni language. It is surrounded by tibet on north, nepal on east, uttar pradesh on south and garhwal region on west.
The region of Kumaon is bounded of himalayan mountain ranges, with two sub mountains namely terai and bhabhar. A good amount of Kumaon region is deep forest which is fully under the control of local forestry department. Majority of the peoples believe hinduism in Kumaon region. It is surprisingly to see that the ancient rocks, valleys, mountains in the Kumaon region are named some hindu mythological gods or goddess such as shiva, vaishnava bholanath, gangnath and airy.
According to the researcher atkinson, there are more than 250 shiva temples and 35 vaishnava temples are present in the Kumaon region in british times. The temples which are situated around bageshwar, binsar, thalkedar, rameshwar, kot ki mai, almora and ganganath are worshipping lord shiva. Similarly the temples that located in the almora, nainital, pumagiri, devidhura and gangolihat are worshipping the shakti. The regions in the lohaghat – champawat are associated with kunna avatar and sun gods. However the region Kumaon is well famous for worshipping the lord shiva, majorly because of the regions like panchkedars and kailash – mansarovar. According to the hindu mythological sages opinion, kailash is the finest and purest place to worship the god siva.
Kumaon is a region which is mainly dependable on the income from tourism. For exploring the scopes of tourism, the welfare organizations start a venture namely “Kumaon mandal vikas nigam” which delivers the complete details about the Kumaon tourism, places to visit, Kumaon best hotels list, Kumaon tour packages, Kumaon pilgrim destinations etc. It's always feel to say that Kumaon is tourist spot that will gives you the magnificent mother nature experience
Though Kumaon region has many lord shiva and goddess shakti temples but Kumaon people have a famous custom of worshipping their folk deities. The folk deities are the heroes of the early times who have a separate story attached to their existence and each one is represented and worshipped through a peak, jagar( a ritual of poem) or a temple constructed and devoted to them. Kumaon also has a tradition of worshipping yaksha and snake which depicts giving respect to the brave. Along with worshipping the folk deities, the people of Kumaon region also worship the kuldevatas and gram deavta that are known as family gods and village gods respectively. The naga (snake gods), veers (the brave heroes) and the bhumi devatas (land gods) are also widely worshipped by them.
Kumaoni language and literature
Languages which are spoken at Kumaoni region belong to aryan family; however dialects of the tibeto (burmese family) are also used in some cases. Less influence of kols, kinnar-kirats, munds, dard-khasas can also be seen in these dialects. Hindi, that is the mother language of india is spoken by almost every Kumaonis excluding biyans and chaudans, shaukas of darma and the banrajis of askot and chalthi. There are 13 dialects in Kumaon is described by G.A.Grierson; they are: johari, danpuriya, majh kumaiya, askoti, soryali, sirali, chaugarkhyali, gangola, kumaiya, khasparjia, pachhai, phaldakoti, and rauchaubhaisi. All these mentioned dialects of garhwali and Kumaoni are jointly known as central pahari group of languages. Khaskura (nepali) is spoken in the east of Kumaon region, western pahari (himachali) in the west, tibeto - burmese family in the noth and western hindi in the south.
Kumaon contains extremely wealthy tradition of folk literature, which deals with heroes, local/national myths, heroines, several aspects of nature and deeds of bravery. Anonymous poets wrote these songs which related to the deeds of gods-goddesses, creation of earth, local heroes/dynasties and several characters belong to mahabharat and ramayan. Some of those songs are also associated with exceptional love story of rajula and malushahi, the heroism of sangram singh karki, the daring deeds of the twenty two bafaul brothers and the unreal terrains across the himalaya. These songs are sung by experts by considering the local history and bharau. You can experience these songs on agricultural activities and diverse cultural and social festivals.
Other varieties of songs are agricultural, pastoral and children’s songs that shows the sealed relationship between man and his surrounds. These songs also describe the natural beauty of this region that is really exceptional. Varieties of folk songs such as the invitation songs, bhagnaul, neoli, chanchari, jhora and chhapeli. You will find the word ‘suva’ or p’arrot that denotes lovers, whereas in the ‘riturain’ songs, the ‘nyoli’ bird denotes bothers and sisters. Neoli is also acknowledged as the style of singing. Some of the well-known singers of kumain district are mohan singh reethagari, gopidas, chakra ram damai and jait ram.
If you talk about the written literature of Kumaon then the most famous names are krishna pandey, lok ratna pant 'gumani', shiv datt sati, shyama charan datt pant, gorda, ram dutt pant 'kaviraj', pitambar pandey, chandra lal chaudhary, bachi ram arya, kunwar singh bhandari, jeevan chandra joshi, etc. Nowadays, writers and poets of Kumaon are not only famous inside Kumaon region but also outside the Kumaon. They gave their exceptional contribution to hindi literature and journalism. Amongst the crowd, contribution of sumitra nandan pant, gumani, laxmi datt joshi, ela chandra joshi, shailesh matiyani, hem chandra joshi, pankaj bisht and mrinal pande are broadly accepted.
The shauka, tharu, banraji and boksa tribes are also known for their outstanding folk songs and dances. You can experience these songs and dances during social cultural ceremonies and festivals. Talking about the extremely famous dance of Kumaon, the chhalaria, or chholia always takes the lead position amongst the availability. These dance forms are associated with the martial tradition of the region. View of the bhagnaul, jhora and chanchari along with famous dance form of Uttarakhand is always outstanding. Nowadays, you can experience these songs during fairs and festivals.
Naina devi is a name dedicated to goddess parvati. The temple of naina devi was constructed by the katyuri queen jiya rani in the Kumaon region. The place has a myth attached to its name that goddess parvati committed sati and jumped in to sacrificial fire when her hudband, lord shiva was insulted by goddess paravti’s father dakshaprajapati during a yajnya in which lord shiva and parvati were not invited. It is said that when lord shiva was taking goddess parvati’s sacrificed body, here eye fell at a place near the holy temple of pashan devi in nainital and since then naina devi temple has been named and is devoted to goddess parvati.
Dedicated to the folk gods of Kumaon, bholanath is a temple of lord shiva where he is said to have incarnated himself. As per the old story, chand kind, udai chnad disowned his elder son because of his bad habits and passed their throne to their younger son. While wandering, the elder son, his preganant wife came to settle near around almora but udai chand got both of them executed. After that, the son, his wife and the unborn child became evil spirits and so people started worshipping them. It is said that the original temple of bholanath is situated in champawat.
Nanda devi is none other than the greek goddess “nana”. She came to himalayas with the indo-greeks and kushan kings. Nanda devi is a goddess of Kumaoni region and is largely worshipped by people here.
Gwalla is also known as gorilla, golla or golu and are the temples that are widely established in the champawat region, chitai area and ghorakhal district. Amid all three, chitai is the most famous temple. The story of gwalla is said in context of a king who sent his servants to fetch water. On the contrary the servants troubled a woman who was indulged in prayers. The woman in a fit of anger commented on king’s incapability to separate two fighting bulls which she did easily. The king was charmed by the lady and married her. After marriage the queen gave birth to a son but other queens of the king could not tolerate it and replaced the child with a pumpkin. Later, the baby was kept inside a cage and thrown in to water. A fisherman found the cage and nurtured the child. When the child grew up he once took a wooden horse to riverside. Seeing his act other queens questioned him about his act to which he replied that if a woman can give birth to a pumpkin then wooden horse can also drink. Listening to child’s words, king got to know about other queen’s act and so he punished the queens and accepted to the boy who became famous as gwalla devata.
The story of gangnath’s is quite similar to that of bholanath. Gangnath was the son of the then famous king of vaibhav chand of doti (western nepal). Gangnath has a brute fight with his father and so he left his home in rage and while his wanderings, he found a girl with whom he fell in love. The girl was joshi brahmin lady named bhana. But bhana’s father did not like it and got gangnath murdered by a blacksmith. Hereafter, gangnath became spirit and started harming people and in fear people started worshipping him and bhana.
Airy is another god who is largely preached by inhabitants of Kumaon. He is similar to god shani and has his eye on the top of his head. The attendants of the god “sau” and “bhau” ride on dogs. Airy god is said to take care of animals and is worship in that form. There are numerous temples of airy but its main temple is in “byandhura”.
Kail bisht is another folk god who has the idol with playing flute and is located near binsar. The story attached to the temple is shrikrishna pandey was wrongly reported about an extra marital fling of his wife and a valiant rajput shepherd, kallu. The matter was brought before the king who thought wanted to but did not have kallu executed as he saw trident’s impression on kail’s forehead and a kadamb flower’s impression on his feet. Though, kallu was later murdered by deception.
This god is known protector of animals and has its temple in the region jhulaghat-pancheshwar. There is a story attached to this place that once a man was traveling to champawat with a shivlinga in his turban. En route he stopped at a place and placed his turban on the earth, after finishing drinking when tried picking the shivlinga, he failed to budge. Hearing this, may people were lured to this place. Presently, it ha sbeen constructed in to a lord shiva’s temple and milk and sweets are offered to god. There are many temples of chaumu but the main seat is in chamdeval.
The famous king of champawat, harish chandra was a renowned king who is being worshipped by people of this region. The temples of haru and saim, the lord of boundaries are place together.
Besides listed names there are numerous gods that are worshipped in the Kumaon region as in bhumia, nagnath, badhan, narsingh, chhurmal, gabla etc. Garh devi is found at the cremation
Ground and is worshipped on the night of amavasya. Anyari and ujyali are other two popular goddesses here.
Aipan is one of the popular traditional art (painting form), practiced in Kumaon region in the state of Uttarakhand. It is associated with great level of social, cultural and religious importance. This art of painting is known by various names and is famous in several parts of india with great variations. In Kumaon, Uttarakhand, aipan designs are mostly drawn at the places of worship, houses along with the main entrance door and in front courtyard of the house.
Aipan is beautiful art which possesses special importance in all Kumaoni homes. The word aipan is derived from ‘arpan’. In the indian culture, the art form of aipan is passed on from generation to generation. Women carried on the patterns to their daughters and daughters-in-law. Many of these artistic designs have great religious values and these are drawn during specific religious occasions or auspicious ceremonies like naming ceremony, marriage, threading occasion, etc. To do rituals though others are for fussy god/goddess and a few for artistic look.
Unfortunately, due to modernization in generation this art is diminishing fast and today a very few examples of this art form are available. Traditional aipan designs of Kumaon are drawn in linear art, flowers or imprints, and geometrical designs. These patterns are generally drawn for decorative purpose and the raw material that is used is simple geru color and rice paste. The attractive patterns used to decorate doorways have been bespoke for gift tags, clay items, bookmarks, wooden boxes, coasters and trays.
Each and every aipan pattern has some particular significance attached to it and is drawn with an exact purpose in mind. Here below we’ve discussed some of the most popular aipan designs.
Different types of aipan:
1. Saraswati chowki:
Goddess saraswati is mainly symbolized of learning. When a child starts education a puja (worship) is generally held to begin the good education life of child. The main feature of this aipan is a five pointed star with a swastika flower or a diya in the mid. The performer then proceeds to design the center piece with floral or flowing patterns
2. Chamunda hast chowki
The chamunda chowki is basically made for ‘yagyas’ or ‘havans’. The middle part of the chowki is design of two triangles interspersed with two transverse lines running diagonally both, with a 5 pointed star in between, enclosed in a circle. The gap is covered up with lakshmi's feet or flowing patterns. The circle is decorated with 8 petals of the lotus flower.
3. Nav durga chowki:
This aipan form is actually used during ritual devi pujas. The essential themes here are the nine dots that show the nav durgas. The people who are familiar with this type of designs make a square enclosing these dots with parallel lines successively crisscross and particularly design with the lotus petal. The simplest way to form swastika is with 9 dots, also called as nav swastik. Although there are many variations of this, but a simpler version is by drawing three horizontal and vertical lines with a swastika in the middle. It symbolizes formation and development and encourages people to walk ahead in the search of achievement.
4. Shiv or shivarchan peeth
Lord shiva is the supremacy god in the himalayan. He is worshipped during the months of savan and magh (according to hindu calendar). 28 or 108 parthiv lings are reserved in the copper thali and lord shiva is drawn on to the ground. This is 8corner design that is done with 12 dots connected by 12 lines. To make this design more striking, outside border of four plus four corners are also drawn.
5. The surya darshan chowki:
This aipan is related with the birth or naming ceremony of a new child. For first 11 days the new born baby is kept indoors, and on the 11th day the baby is brought outside f or surya darshan. This chowki is designed on the floor where the pastor sits performing mantras.
6. Janeyu chowki:
At the time of ‘janeo’ or holy threading ceremony, the drawing of janeyu aipan is necessary. The centre part is made of seven stars within a six-corner drawing. The seven stars basically symbolized the ‘sapta rishis’ and around this floral design are made with dots.
7. Asan chowki:
This asan chowki is mainly used during diverse type of pujas. It is an adorned seat for follower and his wife for a ritual worship.
8. Dhuli arghya chowki :
In india the term twilight is known as ‘godhuli vela’. For the wedding occasion the bridegroom’s party normally reached in the evening at the time of twilight or sunset. In the previous days bridegroom party arrive to the bride’s place with dusty feet. Dhuli argya chowki is actually done to welcome bridegroom. As the groom symbolized “narayan”, thus he is mainly greeted with devotion. His dusty feet are vigilantly washed before the puja as he stands on a tiny bench or chowkil. It also closely resembles a pitcher with shiva’s trident on the top or trishul. In the center is vishnu and at the base is lord brahma. On both sides of the painting, two birds (parrots) are decorated and at the bottom a swastik as well as a lotus. All the three symbols denote fortune and are good omens.
9. Acharya chowki:
This is an aipan design which is particularly drawn for the pandit or acharya during the occasion of wedding. In a marriage ritual a groom is always accompanied by his own pandit, who is given more importance than groom's father. Therefore as a result a special chowki is designed for him. Various aipan designs are made. The lotus and other favorable signs like conch shell, bell, or sometimes even two birds (parrots) are painted just about the swastik.
10. Durga thapa:
Durga thapa is painted on paper by Kumaoni women for two durga pujas that is seized during the year, one in between the month of march to april and other before the time of dussehra. The pujas performs for nine days and are hence caned navratras. This drawing is highly difficult and complex. There are numerous gods and goddesses that are represented along with ten armed goddess who rides the lion. The buja bali gods- ram and lakshman are placed to her left. On the very right side – the nav durga goddess and nine headed chandi goddess, with the temple guards at the base of the hierarchy are also find representation in this aipan of durga thapa. The uppermost row in the image features the sun, ganesh - the elephant-headed lord who is the remover of problems, riddhi, lakshmi the goddess of wealth and her wife, vishnu- the protector in the hindu trinity; saraswati the goddess of learning; brahma, the creator and gods gola nath and bhola nath on horseback and bala barmi. The eight-petal led lotus within a circle is of particular significance in a durga puja. There are favorable symbols like conch shen, lamp, ben, tulsi, grain, rice, and swastika are drawn to augment the beauty of goddess durga.
11. Jyoti patta:
Among the brahmin and sah families, in the Kumaon region there is practice of making a "jyoonti" at sacred proceedings like thread ceremony, naming and marriages. In the olden times "jyoontis" were frescos adorned on the walls of the rooms where religious events held. Now these drawings are drawn of hardwood, plywood, and paper. Even the printed jyoonti pattas are also accessible. "jyoonti" is the home word used for the jeev matrikas - maha laxmi, maha kali and maha saraswati. The painting of "jyoonti" follows a meticulous pattern. The first line represents himalayas as it is the practice to send the first summons to them. Subsequently there are lines of geometrical patterns or floral designs. One central panel has two lotus flowers on either side or a tree which signifies the legendary kalpavriksha. Lord brahma, the creator of universe, and vishnu, the protector, are said to dwell in the roots of the tree, lord shiva, the destroyer, in its trunk and his wife, parvati, in the uppermost part of the tree.
Below the tree, there are two birds that are painted for luck and growth. The main panel is associated with three ‘matrikas’ attended by lord ganesha. The mid of the panel has krishna-radha or even images of the groom and bride. On peak, there are the two round faces of anyari devi and ujyari devi, the presented idols over light and darkness. Ranking the core panel is a complex design of dots and lines known as "bar boond". This show an invitation as well as prayer to the gods to be there at the event of wedding and consecrate the couple.
12. Lakshmi yantra:
Lakshmi being the goddess of wealth is worshipped on the festive of deepawali. Before the deity is kept on the place where the puja will be held, the lakshmi yantra is made on to the ground with ochre color (geru) and rice paste. This is the place of the goddess. The main point of the yantra is marked by a flower or dot, which represents the universe. It is enclosed in two triangles, which shapes a star with six corners. The upper triangle symbolizes lord shiva and the lesser one, shakti. The triangle is encircled with six or eight lotus flowers and the outer circle is enclosed with sixteen lotuses. The lotuses stand for the moon, the home, stars, and wealth. There are usually other round designs around the attraction. The circles are bounded by lines on four sides suggesting "doors" is known as "bhupur". They represent the earth. The entire drawing is decorated at various points with lakshmi's footprints.
Below the lakshmi yantra are represented two puja seats or "asanas" for the couple who do the puja. On the other hand, these seats could be destined for the head member of the family and the priest who performs the ceremony. In most Kumaoni families instead of a metal statue or clay of lakshmi, sugarcane is cut and kept across. Traditional female wear like a lahanga (long skirt) and odhni (shaw!) Garnish the sugarcane to make it resemble like a female form. Therefore is the lovability of life invited with ceremony precision to supervise over a household.
Masonary and architecture in Kumaon
Kumaon offers a glimpse of wonderful architecture and unique style of civilization that is visible through the scattered settlements of the higher himalayas and densely populated agricultural valleys on one side. On the other side it prominently highlights beautiful religious edifices as in temples that are based in naulas and bawaris, dharamshalas and forts. Houses at Kumaon also reflect glimpse of natural beauty. Residential places here are made of stone walls, slate roofs, mud floors and patangans. The doors, windows and kholis of houses have intricate figures of lord ganesha and other god and goddesses. The architecture style here focuses on the preservation of fauna species found here. The wood carver or carpenters on an important note craft a closed nestle for birds. Albeit, brick and mortar houses are now becoming prevalent in Kumaon region as more and more stone and marble materials is getting available yet many people prefer using stone, slate and wood for construction of the temples and houses.
The temples in place have been constructed over a period of almost thousand years and follow a local style which is known as “hiamdri” style of architecture. Some of the preeminent architectural carving done here are clearly visible in jageshwar, almora, katarmal, baijnath, dwarahat, gangolihat, bhuvaneshwar and marsoli. These temples experience huge influx of population round the year. The architecture style focused in this temple is called gupta architecture.
Along with supreme architecture, Kumaon also unfolds brilliant style of sculpture. One may easily find matchless idols in temples and even outside the temples. The place has unique style of sculpting which is clearly visible in the idols of jageshwar, dwarhat, katarmal, champawat that truly reflect the Kumaon’s rich tradition of sculpture. The place also has bronze ashtdhatu statues that are hard to find anywhere else. Besides, ek hathia and deval near the thal and the ek hathia naula near champawat are the unique forms of lexis that not only narrate the tales attached to their conception but also reflect upon their exclusive architectural designs. There are many statues here that bear influence of budhhist art. The Kumaon area is also affluent on numismatic and epigraphic expressions.
Victory pillars or beerkhams are scattered here all over the Kumaon region, additionally there are various forts that are still seen at the champwat, karnkarayat, sira, gangolihat and kuti.