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Culture of Hamirpur

Hamir Utsav at Hamirpur

Scholars are of the opinion that in olden days Hamirpur was known as Trigarta. We first find its reference in Mahabharata. It is believed that the Trigarta king, who sided with the Duryodhana during the Kurukshetra war, was actually king of Hamirpur. It is a fact that a thriving civilization used to inhabit this region long before the days of Mahabharata. It is natural that such an ancient civilization will have its culture rooted in legends and myths. Indeed, a great part of Hamirpur’s customs and traditions are based on folk literature, which has been handed down from one generation to the next.

Some influencing factors:

Factors that influenced the culture of Hamirpur are manifold:

  • Over the years, various tribes have visited this rich and beautiful land; some to stay; others to loot and plunder. Yet, each of them has left a mark on its culture.

  • Majority of people in Hamirpur are Hindu by faith and hence Hinduism too has a deep influence on the culture of this place.

  • Hamirpur is surrounded by vast stretch of greenery intercepted by cluster of villages. Although the area is experiencing slow industrialization, people here still lead a simple life. Most people in the rural belt earn their living either by farming or by rearing of animals. These people are simple and God-fearing. Hamirpur’s culture reflects this rural simplicity as well as this reverence for the divinity.

  • Finally, it has also to be remembered that until 1972, Hamirpur was a part of Kangra district and hence, much of Hamirpur’s culture has been derived from the culture of Kangra.

Folk Dances and Songs of Hamirpur

Indeed, Hamirpur’s culture, like its life, is simple, yet vibrant. On special occasions such as wedding, fairs and festivals, their inherent love for life comes out through dances and songs.  Gidha is a popular folk dance for the women while Chanderwali is dance form in which only the men can take part. Similarly, jetras are the folk songs sung by the ladies while songs sung by men are known as Jheras. In general, Jheras are centered on battles fought long ago.

Among the jheras, Gugga Chouha comes first in the popularity list. Gugga Chouha was a worrier king born of a Chauhan Rajput. In different states he is called by different names. In Hamirpur, he is worshipped as folk deity, who protects his followers from all kinds of ills.  Raja Sansar Chand is also another popular jhera sung by the musicians of Hamirpur. The Raja was one of the most popular kings of this region, who tried to regain the lost glory of the Katoch dynasty. Raja Bhangal and Raja Sirmour are also two other popular jheras.

Traditional Musical Instruments in Hamirpur

In general, such songs and dances are accompanied by different musical instruments such as tabla, flute, shehnai, dholak, damroo, nagara, thali, dhafli, etc. These musical instruments are also played to celebrate weddings as well as other auspicious occasions.

Languages Spoken by Majority in Hamirpur

Majority of the people in Hamirpur speak in Western Pahari. According to the Linguistic Survey of India, Pahari comes under the Indo-European branch of languages and is spoken by a wide variety of population in the lower Himalayan region from Nepal to Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. However, the language has many dialects and the Pahari spoken in Nepal is quite different from the Pahari spoken in Hamirpur. In fact, it is said that because of close interaction with Punjab, the Pahari spoken in Hamirpur is closer to Punjabi than other Pahari dialects.

Fairs of Hamirpur

Holi mela at Sujanpur Tira

Hamirpur is also renowned for its colorful fairs. Some of these are organized by the government while others are organized by private entities. Popular among the state organized fairs are Hamir Utsav and Hoil Fair of Tira Sujanur. Hamir Utsav is generally celebrated in October-November. Recital of jatras and jheras make this occasions all the more interesting. Dances too are part of this program.

On the other hand, holy is celebrated on the Phalgun Purnima, in the month of February/March. The festival’s cultural splendor is augmented by different mythological tales, songs and dances. Indeed, the festival not only celebrates the eternal love of Radha and Krishna, but also the triumph of good over evil.

Some other famous fairs organized in Hamirpur are Baba Deotsidh, Gasota Mahadev, Ghasian Fair, Chaniary Fair, Awaha Devi Fair, Tauni Devi Mela, Sair Fair, Piplu-ra-Mela, Baggi Melaetc. All these fairs are the outcome of the people’s deep rooted faith in divinity. However, they also have commercial importance for the people of Hamirpur. Contrarily, cattle fair organized by the state in places such as Dhirara, Jahu and Chakmoh are important from commercial perspective; they do not have any religious sanctity.

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