Though Garhwali’s and Kumaoni’s share the same state ie Uttarakhand, they have a lot of differences between them both culturally and linguistically. You can imagine Uttarakhand just like Himachal Pradesh where different pahadi communities live together in a state. Between language and culture, they differ more culturally, especially among higher castes.
Talking about culture, kumaonis have turned extremely brahminical and ritualistic where as in Garhwal it’s a bit plain and simple. These Vedic or We should say smart traditions in Kumaon got assimilated during the Chand rule. Hence you would find too much orthodoxy in Kumaon in every aspect of life. It is quite beautiful that there are certain shaman practices that goes side by side with Brahmanical traditions and are complementary to each other. Well, these shaman practices are said to be the feature of khas culture which you can find among all the pahadis in India.
We will mention the key rituals and festivals which are observed in Kumaon but not in Garhwal. These rituals and festivals are basic to most kumaonis.
Holi can be called the main festival of Kumaon just like the pujo of Bengal. The event is observed for almost 2 months and in some cases starts from the end of December also.
In kumaon, Holi rather than festival of colors , is a musical festival . Holis are sung in three format ie khadi , baitha, mahila. The songs and their order is pretty much standardized. Khadi Holi is rural , baith is classical and mahila is a mix of both the former.
The main thing is, it is observed in the whole of Kumaon, the tradition which once started from champawat region mainly from Gumdesh , Vishung Patti.
This is not observed in Garhwal , though Holi is celebrated there but not the way Kumauni’s do.
This is a trademark of Kumauni’s. Once in Pandav Nagar in Delhi we was counting the kumaoni families living there without looking at the nameplate, just by looking at elaborate aipan at their doorsteps. And the house which didn’t have that was a Garhwali.
In Kumaon every occasion there is a aipan , say, namakaran, janeo , vivah even death. One which is very known is dulhiargha chowki which is drawn at dulhiargha place in marriage. There are various other chowkis drawn like saraswati chowki, Lakshmi chowki, Ganesh chowki, navdurga, janeo chowki, namakaran chowki etc.
Aipan is drawn by applying geru and then drawing specific fine and complex designs with bishwaar. The Shah Thakurs also draw yellow aipan by adding haldi in white bishwaar.
This traditional folk art is completely absent in garhwal.
Nowadays there is a public holiday on harela in Uttarakhand but actually, it is a kumaoni festival. The harela which is usually sown ten days before the actual event is cut on the day and is put on the head of the family members. Along with this, there is a lot of puja paath included, dig digaar ie shiv parivaar is made out of clay or aata and are worshipped.
This festival comes in shravan month but harela is also sown in the month of chaitra and Ashwin.
Again this is not celebrated in garhwal but I think it is observed at the border of kumaon in chamoli garhwal.
Actually pronounced as rangil pichhod is one of the key trademark of kumaoni women with great significance. It is worn by all the women once they are married , it means it is also worn by widows.
Nowadays it has become very trendy as it is now machine printed , earlier it was made by hands .
You will not find this clothing in garhwal.
This is also a very famous pooja in Kumaon. It comes during the ten days of Ganesh Chaturthi and starts from Panchami called as birud panchami. This pooja is actually Gauri pooja which in Kumaoni called as gamra. Idols of Gamra Mahesh and Ganapathi are made and kept for almost three days in the house. The pooja is in similar lines to jyestha kanishtha pooja of Maharashtra and is also observed at the same time. This is a very festive pooja as bhajans and various rituals are performed throughout the pooja. lyaao lyaao cheliyo dhaturi ko phoola, gamra bhooke bhaado aayi puji ge chha etc are the songs which are sung during this occasion in every kumaoni household.
This pooja is also not there in garhwal whereas in kumaon it is an important part of culture.
Again a very common kumaoni festival celebrated on alternate dates across the saryu river in Kumaon but not in garhwal.
This is a very important difference in these two regions. The karmakand in Kumaon is very different not only from Garhwal but from other parts of India also. We can say that the karmakand is at the extreme end of smart tradition. This is the reason a non-kumaoni pundit cannot conduct kumaoni rituals. The rituals are very elaborate and complex especially janeo and marriage. Marriage rituals up to 6 hours are not uncommon.
One distinct feature in kumaoni priestly rituals is the use of jyooti patta and kush.
Again you will not find such ritualistic complexities in garhwal. They keep it simple. But one thing in which garhwali pundits are extremely good at is Jyotish.
DASHYAAR- (not to be confused with dashain of nepal)
This is also an event in kumaoni households but usually not mentioned anywhere on the social platforms. It occurs at Ganga dashahra , the chinh called dashyaar is drawn on paper , colored beautifully and a mantra is written around the chinh. Then this dashyaar is pasted on the doors and on the top of any house entrance.Again a very typical kumaoni practise.
FOLK DANCE and MUSIC
In Kumaon usually, the folk group dances are performed and enjoyed by the thakur or jimdaar community on every occasion. Jhoda(jhwaad), chaanchari (chaancher) are the two very famous folk dances all around the Kumaon region. Chapeli and choliya are also very famous during the marriage(there are much choliya dance groups nowadays.). Nyoli is also a kind of singing usually performed by women in Kumaon. One more interesting art is hudkiya bol which is performed during ROPAAI on the beats of huduk.
In Garhwal there are different forms of folk dances and singing traditions too like taandi, harul(actually a jaunsari one but performed by jaunpuris in Garhwal also),thadya (performed by women, have seen especially in Pauri ),khuded geet, baddi geet(a very beautiful but almost extinct folk art form).
Though the singing style and beats in these dance forms in these regions have differences one thing is common that they all are mostly group dances with a specific chaal . You can find similar folk dances in hp called nati and in western Nepal also called deoda khel.
We found that jaunsaris are the best in the chaal section of such folk dances.
Besides these there are various other things which are different in both the regions. We are not going into the language part because it a very obvious difference.