Rajasthan has a central place in enriching the Indian culture as a whole. The land of princes is an enigmatic state where tradition and history blend with contemporary lifestyle. The culture of the state is a result of its 5000-year old history and the varied topography of the desert land. Rajasthan has a diverse population belonging to different castes, tribes, and religions, which embellish the culture by their unique customs and beliefs. The rich cultural heritage of the state is reflected in its impressive folk music and dances, different languages and dialects, the majestic forts, palaces, mansions and divinely holy places of religious worship, its multihued fairs and festivals, its tempting cuisines, and, above all, its inviting and cheerful people. Rajasthan is truly one such stop to experience all the hues of a healthy culture.
Interestingly, you can own the rainbow Rajasthan culture in the form of various gorgeous and startling commodities, stunningly representing the same. The markets are overflowed by products reflecting the culture of Rajasthan, like tie & die textiles, intricately carved wooden furniture with alluring motifs, block print textiles, lavish Bandhej saris & kurtis, zari & embroidered saris, luxurious and royal hand knotted carpets & durries, astonishing blue pottery, captivating mojaris & jutis, and so on. You can easily find them while strolling in any market in Rajasthan. To dive completely into the colors of Rajasthan, people adorably tie colorful pagris on their heads. Every nook and corner of Rajasthan delights and compels visitors to fall in love with it. Read further to truly get acquainted with the rich and bewitching culture of Rajasthan.
The inhabitants of Rajasthan are friendly and amiable who welcome every visitor with open arms. Like the whole of India, Rajasthan also displays unity in diversity. The moment you enter this vivacious state, the warm and jolly nature of Rajasthani people will impress you deeply. In terms of demography, Rajasthan is a diverse state with people categorized on the basis of birth or occupation. Some parts of the state are thickly populated, while others are sparsely inhabited.
The dances of Rajasthan are so inviting and engaging that they are bound to induce you to tap a foot or two along with the dancers. Rajasthani dances are essentially folk dances tracing their origin to rural customs and traditions. What is more interesting is that keeping alive the numerous dance forms are not the professional dancers but the ordinary rural men and women of Rajasthan.
If the majestic forts and palaces are the body of Rajasthan, then the folk music is the soul of the “Land of the Princes”. The folk music gives the people of Rajasthan a means of forgetting the tough living conditions in the desert and even adds a charm to the desert land. The Rajasthan style of music has made significant contribution in enriching the Indian music as a whole.
Cuisine from time immemorial has given a distinct identity to a region simultaneously echoing the cultural of the same. A place where cooking food is considered an art form, one can only imagine what a lip-smacking treat is awaiting a man in love with authentic food. Rajasthan is one such state that offers sumptuous and simply irresistible delicacies, leaving you asking for more.
The history of Rajasthan dates back to pre-historic times as one finds settlements dating to this period in Rajasthan. Archaeological excavations establish a relation with the Harappan culture trailing back to 1000 BC. Rajasthan has also had Paleolithic settlements as one finds paintings in some areas of Rajasthan tracking back to this period.
Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is rich and varied folk culture from villages which is often depicted and is symbolic of the state. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. It is known for its snacks like Bikaneri Bhujia, Mirchi Bada, Pyaaj Kachori and ghevar. Other famous dishes include bajre ki roti (millet bread) and lashun ki chutney (hot garlic paste), mawa kachori from Jodhpur, Alwar ka Mawa(Milk Cake), malpauas from Pushkar and rassgollas from Bikaner. Originating for the Marwar region of the state is the concept Marwari Bhojnalaya, or vegetarian restaurants, today found in many part of India, which offer vegetarian food of the Marwari people.
Dal-Bati-Churma is very popular in Rajasthan. Traditional way to serve it is to first coarsely mash the Baati then pour pure Ghee on top of it. It is served with the daal (lentils) and spicy garlic chutney. Also served with Besan (gram flour) ki kadi . It is commonly served at all festivities, including religious occasions, wedding ceremonies, and birthday parties in Rajasthan. “Dal-Baati-Churma”, is a combination of three different food items — Daal (lentils), Baati and Churma (Sweet). It is a typical Rajasthani dish.
“Up-down” dolls are found in the roadside shops of Jaisalmer.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputli,Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindr, Kachchhighori, Tejaji, etc. are the examples of the traditional Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories; and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
Traditional musical instruments of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colourful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and crafts, carpets, and blue pottery are commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers’ paradise, with beautiful goods at low prices. Reflecting the colourful culture, Rajasthani clothes have a lot of mirror-work and embroidery. A Rajasthani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle-length skirt and a short top, also known as a lehenga or achaniya choli. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue, yellow and orange.
A decorated Indian elephant at a fair in Jaipur.The main religious festivals are Deepawali,Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Shri Devnarayan Jayanti, Makar Sankranti andJanmashtami, as the main religion isHinduism. Rajasthan’s desert festival is held once a year during winter. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing ballads. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels play a role in this festival.
Spirit possession has been documented in modern Rajasthan. Some of the spirits possessing Rajasthanis are seen as good and beneficial, while others are seen as malevolent. The good spirits include murdered royalty, the underworld god Bhaironji, and Muslim saints. Bad spirits include perpetual debtors who die in debt, stillborn infants, deceased widows, and foreign tourists. The possessed individual is referred to as a ghorala (“mount”). Possession, even if it is by a benign spirit, is regarded as undesirable, as it entails loss of self-control and violent emotional outbursts.