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Nainital Culture

Nainital is inhabited by Kumaoni people, who are religious, God fearing and superstitious by nature. The deities worshipped in Nainital are Bholanath, Gangnath, Naina Devi, Nanda Devi, Sunanda Devi, Kail Bisht, Golu, Sam, Haru and Adi. The natives dwelling in the hilly areas of Nainital countryside strictly follow their traditions and customs. For example, all death mourning and rituals take place only on Tuesdays and Saturdays while the rest of the days are meant for all the auspicious activities. Visiting a sick person is forbidden on the mourning days and Thursdays and women folk don’t visit their parent’s house on Thursdays. A black dot is put behind the ear or on the forehead to keep the evil away. The ‘Jaagar’ ritual is performed by the natives of Nainital to evoke their local deities as well as the spirits. The general lifestyle and social gatherings of Kumaoni people mainly revolve around religion and culture. The people here are not influenced by the modern lifestyle of city life. The major languages spoken here are: Kumaoni, Garhwali, Hindi, and English.
The traditional clothing of women in Nainital is Ghaagra-Pichora. Even though, today most of the ladies wear saris. Pichora is worn during their festive season. Married women always wear ‘Sindoor’, Mangalsutra or ‘Chareu’, ‘Nath’ i.e. nose ring and the golden necklace called ‘Hansuli’. On the religious occasions women adorn their head with a very long ‘Pithya’ i.e. a Tilak made from turmeric and rice. The men of Nainital wear Pajamas, a long coat and a woolen cap.
Nainital cuisine is mainly based on rice and the recipes made with its combination. Some of the famous food items of Nainital include Ras, steamed rice, bhang ki chutney, Bhatt ki Churkani, Baadi, Black and White Roti, Madwe Ki Roti, Muli ka Thechua, Bathue ka Paratha, Gaderi Ki Sabji, Peenalu Ki Sabji, Papad Ki Sabji, Gathi, Gauhat ki Daal, Lason Ka Lur, Bhatt Ka Joula, Dhai ka Jaula, Bari Bhat, Kaapa Bhaat, Chanda Devi aur Saladi ka Raita, Aloo Ke Gutke, Arsa, Gulgula, Bal Mithai, Malta, Kafhal, Khumani, Pulam, etc. Tourists make it a point to not go back without tasting the flavors of this delectable Nainital cuisine.
Style of Building Houses
The Kumaoni people of Nainital reside in the houses made of bricks, stones, tin, mud and grass. All the houses are built at an elevated area with a slope roof tops so as to let the snow easily slip and fall on the ground. The roof is generally made of stone. A shed is built on the ground floor beneath the elevated abode where the cattle is housed.
The artistic ingenuity of the Kumaoni people is exhibited through their traditional style of painting known as ‘Aipan’. This painting is chiefly made during the festive season. The Kumaoni women folk decorate their houses with beautiful religious motifs of Gods and Goddesses known as ‘Yantra’ or ‘Peeth’. It is a geometric representation of deities through the designs made from the mixture of ochre with rice paste. The Aipan made on a wooden stool or table bears various patterns such as sun, moon, bells, water, janeu, etc. The Pichora worn by women is also prepared by locals in an ancient traditional dying art known as ‘Rangwali’. A bright yellow muslin cloth is imprinted with the designs of swastika in the center and sun, moon, bells, shells, conch, etc around it.
The economics of Kumaoni people is mainly supported by agriculture, tourism and trade.
Songs and Dance
Musical instruments popularly played by the Kumaoni people in Nainital include Hurka, Dhol and Turturi. Traditional dances like Chholia Nritya, Jhora and Chhapeli are also famous in Nainital. Chholia Nritya is a traditional war dance performed using a sword and a shield. Jhora is a group dance. Folk songs of Nainital are generally devotional and portray heroic and mythological themes. At the same time love songs and moral songs are equally popular.
Fairs and Festivals of Nainital

Nandadevi Fair: Nandadevi Fair celebrated in the month of September every year was originally introduced by the King Kalyan Chand in 16th century AD. In this fair, the idols of Goddess Nandadevi and Sunandadevi are carried in a grand procession when myriads of devotees gather and ask for their prosperity and well being. On this occasion a number of cultural programs are organized here.

Garjiadevi Fair: Garjiadevi Fair, organized at the Garjiadevi Temple in Ramnagar beckons thousands of devotees to come and seek the blessings of the Mother Goddess.

Sharadotsav: Sharadotsav celebrated in the month of October provides a perfect opportunity to witness the core culture of Nainital. Various cultural programs, folk art and folk dances are showcased through this festival. Swarms of tourists as well as the locals alight at Nainital to attend the Sharadotsav Festival.

Holi Mahotsav: Holi Mahotsav held on the occasion of Holi Festival is planned by the local bodies of Nainital. The local Kumaoni traditions, customs and rituals are exhibited during this celebration.

Hariyali Devi Fair: Hariyali Devi Fair is celebrated in Nainital in the month of July on the occasion of Harela. This festival commemorates the newly grown greenery everywhere and the life infused in nature by the new rains of the season.

Ranibagh Fair: Ranibagh Fair is held on the occasion of Uttarayani at Ranibagh which is positioned about 30 km from Nainital. This fair holds a great reverence in the hearts of the devotees and it is one of the most awaited fairs of Nainital.

Vasantotsav: Vasantotsav is the spring festival celebrated in the month of January or February at Ramnagar. The culture of both Kumaoni and Garhwali people is reflected in this festival of fun and merry making. Thousands of natives as well as domestic and foreign tourists gather at Ramnagar for enjoying the Vasantotsav Festival.

Chhota Kailash Fair: Chhota Kailash Fair is celebrated on the occasion of Mahashivratri in the month of February every year. This religious fair is held in the honor of the God of destruction; Lord Shiva.

Phooldeli: Phooldeli is celebrated in the month of March or April when young girls decorate the thresholds of their houses with the first flowers of the season. It is believed that these flowers bring prosperity and also bring the people close to each other.

Gheeya Sankranti: Gheeya Sankranti, also called Olgia is celebrated on the first day of Bhado in mid August. On this day farmers give presents to their land owners and to all others who are involved in their trade in some way or other. On this day the people of Nainital eat Ghee and also apply ghee on their foreheads.

Bikhauti: Bikhauti is the nine days festival (Navratri) celebrated in the month of Chaitra. On this occasion seven types of grains are sowed which symbolize the future prosperity.

Hariyala: Hariyala Festival, celebrated in the month of Shravan commemorates the nuptials of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Khatarua: Khatarua Festival celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month Ashwin that falls in mid September welcomes the arrival of the autumn season. The noteworthy feature of this festival is that cucumber is offered to the deities that kill the evil forces.