Dehradun, a part of ‘Garhwal Region’ is predominantly inhabited by Garhwali people. This Himalayan city mainly portrays the pure influence of Garhwali tradition and customs. The chief languages spoken in Dehradun include Garhwali, Gorkhali, Punjabi, Sindhi, Kumaoni, Urdu, English and Hindi. Apart from the Garhwali People, other folks belonging to differing religions and backgrounds dwell here peacefully and harmoniously. Adding to this, Dehradun being a leading tourist destination registers the torrents of most colorful population.
As the city is perched at the high altitude, the weather remains chiefly cold and windy all round the year. Due to that, people always wear woolen blankets and other woolen coverings. The traditional attire of women in Dehradun is saris with full sleeved blouses covered with a kind of jacket called Angra. Young girls wear full skirts and cover their head and shoulders with scarves. Men folk of Dehradun traditionally wear Dhoti, Langoti and Angarkha. The style of wearing this Dhoti differs according to their background, cast and status. The people belonging to lower strata of social hierarchy wear short Dhotis and those belonging to higher classes wear long Dhotis. These days under the influence of modernism, the civilians of Dehradun have also adopted the modern attire of shirts, trousers, denims, kurta-pyjamas etc.
The economy of Dehradun, apart from tourism is mainly supported by agriculture. Moreover, people also serve in military, undertake different kinds of business and work in the field of education. Dehradun is famous countrywide for its Basmati Rice which is exported all over the country in a great amount. The typical cuisine of Dehradun includes Singal, Aloo Ke Gutke, Gahat Ki Dal, Jhangora Ki Kheer, Kumaoni Raita, Sani Hui Muli, Nimbu, Kandalee Ka Saag, Singodi, Kaafli, Arsa, Bal Mithai, Kulath Phanu, Gulgula, Rus, Chicken Korma, Kesar Halwa, Sei, Bhatt, Tibetan Momos and various Milk Products.
After being appointed as the state capital, Dehradun has recorded an accelerated development in every possible area. Other than being a principle tourist hub of the state, Dehradun has also made up a mark in the educational field as well. This city is a proud harbor of some of the preeminent educational institutes of the country such as Forest Research Institute, Indian Military Academy and a number of highly reputed boarding schools. Dehradun is also a home to several national foundations namely Indian Institute of Petroleum, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Wildlife Institute of India, Indian Institute of Petroleum and so on.
Dehradun is particularly famous for its Basmati Rice, Chakarata Rajma, Khukris (Traditional Knives), Hand Woven Shawls, Sweaters, Cardigans, Stoles, Scarves and Other Items of Wool, Eri Silk and Pashmina Colored With Natural Dyes, Books, Crafts and Furniture made from Bamboo, Wood, Handcrafted Copper, Natural Fibers, Woodcrafts, Artifacts made out of Wood, Bamboo and Cane, Local Paintings, Ornaments, Carpets, etc and tourists make it a point to take these souvenirs along.
The people of Dehradun are fun loving and convivial. They celebrate various kinds of fairs and festivals through out the year. Apart from the traditional festivals such as Holi, Diwali, Dussera, Janmashtami and so on, special festivals of Dehradun include, Jhanda Mela, Magh Mela, Tapkeshwar Mela, Laxman Sidhha Mela, Bissu Mela, Mahasu Devta’s Mela, Saheed Veer Kesri Chandra Fair, Lakhawar Fair etc.
Jhanda Mela, the most important festival of the year is celebrated on the fifth day after Holi in the month of March. This fair commemorates the arrival of the Sikh Guru Ram Rai to Dehradun who had alighted here on the same day in 1699 AD. The fair commences with the unfurling of a new flag at the Jhanda Chowk.
Tapkeshwar Mela is held at the famous Tapkeshwar Temple of Dehradun at the time of Mahashivratri. Devotees of Lord Shiva from different corners of the state assemble at the temple to pay homage at the feet of the deity.
Laxman Sidhha Mela is organized in the honor of the four Siddhapeethas located around Dehradun. People gather in a large number and make offerings at the Samadhi at the time of Laxman Sidhha Mela.
Bissu Mela is celebrated at the Jhanda ground which marks the beginning of the harvesting season. Moreover, the cultural heritage and the tradition of the Jaunsari tribe are also celebrated at the time of Bissu Mela.
Mahasu Devta’s Mela is an annual festival held in the month of August at Hanol. At the time of this three days festival a grand procession of the Goddess Mahasu is carried when the procession is accompanied by constant musical prayers that go on for 3 days and nights without break.
Saheed Veer Kesri Chandra Fair is organized at the memorial dedicated to a great freedom fighter of this region Veer Kesri Chandra.
Lakhawar Fair celebrated at a village named Lakhawar is held during the months of September or October every year. This fair is marked with the performances of dance, music, cultural activities and other sports competitions. This is a traditional festival of native Garhwali tribes of Dehradun.