Art and Culture of Gujarat
Gujarat is one of the most ancient states of India which represents the culture of India at its best. Gujarat is gifted with an affluent culture. Gujarat brags of a very old magnificent culture which has still maintained itself. The state dates back to the Harappan civilization and thus it becomes a convergence of various religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The culture of Gujarat is a concoction of customs, languages, arts, institutions, traditions, beliefs, technology, inventions and values.
The art and crafts of the state are exceptional and are famous not only in India but throughout the world. Majority of artists in Gujarat are village people who produced these works of art and craft for their own homes which ended up being the major business of Gujarat. Gujarat’s art and craft industry presents a variety of furniture, handmade carpets, jewelry, metal work, clay items, stone crafts, embroidery and other stuff. The city of Jamnagar
is famous for its brass industry.
Art and Crafts of Gujarat
Following are some essential items of arts and crafts of Gujarat:
Pottery is among the most valued and ancient art and crafts of the state of Gujarat. The artists are usually the villagers who are experts in the sculpting art and mold clay to craft a variety of beautiful utensils. After making the utensils, vibrant colors are used to paint these to make them look even more beautiful. The artisans of Kutch are globally famous for their mastery in pottery craft. Moreover, Kutch artists are also expert in creating a range of terracotta toys.
Carpets (or Dhurries)
Majority of villages located in Gujarat are well-known for weaving the most excellent rugs, carpets and blankets. These dhurries are exclusively hand-woven on the ancient looms and are a specialty of Kutch. It is quite a difficult task for the villagers of Kutch to make these carpets by hand and thus these are in huge demand all over the world. The rugs and carpets are famous for their intricate weaving, gorgeous designs and vibrant colors.
Tangalia is a famous handicraft which is made in the Surendranagar district of Gujarat. This strange and unique craft is created by the “Dangasia” community. Tangalia is an attire which looks like a skirt and is worn by Bharvad women especially on the occasion of wedding. The Motabhai Bharvad community wears an exclusive type of motif which is known as “Ramraj Tangalia”.
Iron and Brass Items
In the entire India the iron and brass items are mostly produced in Gujarat. Majority of iron and brass stuff are produced in Kutch and Saurashtra. Moreover, beetle nut crackers, copper coated iron bells and cutlery knives are the most typical stuff that is found in these two states. These splendid masterpieces are crafted by the descendents of former sword smiths and court jewelers. Apart from these knives, utensils, scissors and crockery made of iron and brass are also very famous here.
For above 5000 years jewelry has been a tradition of Gujarat. Earlier in Gujarat jewelry was made of natural substances like leaves, flowers, seeds, berries, animal bones, teeth, feathers, fruits and claws. The tribal community uses such jewelry even today. Gujarat offers a range of jewelry for all kinds of occasions. Be it for a wedding ceremony or be it for animals or deities, it has a vast variety of jewelry to offer everyone. Here in Gujarat one can not only find jewelry for human beings but they can also get ornaments to adorn the deities in temples or to beautify the animals like horses and elephants during ceremonies.
Gujarat is famous for its textile and embroidery industry which are the most flourishing industries of the state. Generally it is the village women of Gujarat who practice the embroidery work. A wide variety of embroidery can be seen here such as Bavalia, Rabari and Banni embroidery. Gujarat also feels proud to produce the golden embroidery which is generally done to augment the cloths that are used in making garments in weddings.
The various types of Gujarati embroideries are given below:
- Bhitiya is a wall hanging
- Abhala, is a typical embroidery work of Gujarat where mirror discs are fixed with tightly worked silky threads.
- Toran is a decoration for the entrance of the house with hanging flaps and embroidery on it
- Chaklas are used as furniture covers
- Pachhitpatis are suspended from the corners as a welcome sign to the guests
Printing and Embroidery
The culture of Gujarat is revealed by its embroidery work and printing work. Gujarat has given birth to majority of the finest and initial textiles. Not only in Gujarat but the printing and embroidery is famous all across the world.
The paintings created in Gujarat are extremely popular and typically consist of religious themes. Gujarat has maintained to create vibrant paintings even after the foundation of Gujarat Sultanate in 15th century and even after the end of sixteenth century during the formation of Mughal rule.
The stunning wooden handicrafts of Gujarat represent the true culture of the state. These woodcrafts are used for architectural as well as practical purposes. These wooden handicrafts are made from trees like redwood, sal, ebony, teak, red cedar, sheesham, rosewood and deodar.
Culture of Gujarat
Gujaratis who were formerly called “Gurjars” are inspired by the waves from ancient times which take over the values of culture, arts and traditions. Gujarat has a very strong cultural impact of socio economic political history. Being the birth place of Gandhi Ji, Gujarat has a special importance in the Indian Political History. Moreover, Gandhi Ji’s non-violence movement had a great impact on the Gujaratis.
Gujarati is the main language which is spoken throughout the state of Gujarat. It is the mother tongue for all Gujaratis. Besides Gujarati Surti, Kutchi, Marathi, Punjabi, Charotari, Sindhi and Kathiawadi are a few languages that are spoken in the other regions of Gujarat.
Music and dance, fairs and festivals all these form the most important cultural background of Gujarat people.
Music and Dance of Gujarat
Enjoy this beautiful song before you read further...
In classical music Gujarat has played a very important role. There are a number of ragas based on the names of various territories such as- Khambavati, Bilaval, Lati, Sorathi and Ahiri which contribute to the Gujarati classical music. Marsias are songs that are sung on the demise of people. Gujarat also has a number of folk songs which are known as Rannade, Nupital and Laullaby. There is a special kind of temple music which is sung by the Vaishnava cult.
Gujarat also has some special drumming instruments such as Zanz, Manjira and pot drum are just to name a few. Apart from these there are some exclusive wind instruments such as Bungal, Ektaro, Turi, Ravan Hattho, Pava and Jantar.
The various folk dance forms that represent the dance and music of Gujarat are:
Raas is a very famous and traditional dance form of Gujarat which stemmed from Saurashtra and Kutch. It is also said that Raas hails from Puranic era. Raas dance is also known as the kind of dance which was performed by the “Gopikas” of Shri Krishna.
This dance goes along with musical instruments and in between either two sticks is stroked together or claps are given after fixed intervals. The number of people taking part in the dance may be 8 or 16. Sometimes the number of dancers can also increase up to 32 or 64. These dancers not only dance but they sing in chorus as well. There are 3 different forms of Raas which are as follows:
- Tala Rasaka or Mandala- This type of Raas dance goes along with clapping
- Danda Rasaka- This kind of Raas dance goes along with sticks (or dandas)
- Lata Rasaka- In this type of Raas dance the dancers cling to each other and dance just like a creeper plant clings to a tree.
Gof is another kind of Raas dance in which the participants hold colored strings attached at the top. Thereafter, the performers move in various patterns weaving attractive designs.
In Saurashtra the Mer community performs a type of Raas dance which is famous as the Mer Raas. Gherai Raas is performed by the agriculturists from the southern Gujarat, whereas the Gher Raas is performed by the white shepherds.
The Raas dance is used in various parts of India but in diverse ways. Moreover, the various forms of Raas dance have gained appreciation all over the world. The main Raas forms that are appreciated out of the country are the Garba Raas and Dandiya Raas. The Dandiya Raas is mainly performed in Gujarat during the festival of Navaratri. Dandiya Raas is performed by men and women dancing together in 2 circles and they carry sticks in their hands. These sticks or “Dandiyas” are roughly 18 inches long.
During the Raas dance very vibrant and vivid dresses are worn by the dancers. Men usually wear tight trousers with a short shirt along with a head cover. Women normally wear a ghagra, a choli and an odhani to cover their heads. The entire costume is decorated with silver jewelry and attractive beads. Women also beautify themselves with bangles, necklaces, anklets, heavy earrings, amulets and head ornaments. The music played during the Raas dance is pretty traditional and uses instruments like tabla, nal, dhol and harmonium.
Garba is another traditional dance form in Gujarat which is performed by the women during the festivals like Navratri, Vasant Panchami, Holi and Purnima. The “Garba” is derived from “Garbha Deep” which means a lamp with a pierced earthen pot which represents new life. In Garba dance women keep the pot with lamp inside it on top of their heads. Thereafter, they swing in circles by singing and clapping at regular intervals. Women wear beautiful and vibrant ghagra, cholis and bandhani dupattas accompanied by gorgeous jewelry. Nowadays, men are also taking part in Garba dance and they wear churidar, kehediyu and a turban. Nal and dhol are the instruments that go along with the Garba dance.
This dance is performed mainly to show respect to Ma Ambaji. During the Garba dance the deity is placed at the center and women encircle it by making circles. The rhythm of the Garba dance gradually speeds up and is maintained by a drummer (or “Dholi”).
Apart from Raas and Garba there are some more folk dances of Gujarat which are- Bhavai, Hudo, Tippani folk dance, Dangi Nritya and Vincchudo dance.
Bhavai is performed in an open stage with men and women putting earthen pots on their heads and dancing while keeping a balance so that the pots do not fall down. Hudo is a famous dance form which is performed by the shepherd women and men of the Panchal region in Gujarat. In Hudo, women bedeck themselves in beautiful costumes along with an embroidered umbrella with mirror and lace work. Tippani folk dance is famous among the Koli and Kharva habitants dwelling in the coastal area. Tippani finds it origin from Sorath (in Saurashtra) and the dancers perform it in the form of fisherman and sailor. Dangi Nritya is a famous dance form in Dang of Southern Gujarat. This dance is performed by tribals during Holi, Diwali and weddings. The main style of this dance is to hold hands and form chains. Vincchudo dance is a folk dance which is mainly performed during the festival of Navaratri and it portrays a range of stories about the various villages in India.
Fairs and Festivals of Gujarat
Gujarat is also known as the “Land of fairs and festivals”. This vibrant state of India celebrates above 3500 festivals and fairs every year. This is also one of the main reasons for a plethora of tourists to throng Gujarat each year. In the month of January the main festivals celebrated here are Kite Festival and Modhera(dance festival).
- Kite Festival
The International Kite Festival is held on 14th January every year. Moreover, it happens together with the festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. Kite Festival also marks the termination of winter season. On this day one can see countless kites flying in the sky throughout the Gujarat state. This renowned festival of Gujarat marks the Sun’s movement into northern hemisphere. People start flying kites at the crack of dawn and throughout the day it goes on without a break. A day before the Kite Festival, the experts prepare thousands of kites and threads which are used to fly the kites. Till the year 1989, the Kite Festival was only limited to the Gujarat region, but after that it became an International Kite Festival subsidized by the T.C.G.L.
In February-March the Bhavnath Festival and Kutch Utsav are celebrated.
The Sun Temple located in Modhera in the Northern Gujarat belongs to the eleventh century and looks strikingly beautiful. Every year in the 3rd week of January after the Uttarayan festival, an annual dance festival is held at the Sun Temple, Modhera. This dance festival continues for 3 days and a plethora of dancers perform Indian classical dances on this occasion.
- Bhavnath Festival
This festival is celebrated in February and continues for 5 days at the time of Mahashivratri. The Bhavnath Mahadev temple which is situated at the base of Girnar hill in the Junagadh district of Gujarat, witnesses this festival every year. At midnight, the “Mahapooja” of God Shiva takes place at this temple on the fourteenth day of dark half of Magh month. Before the Mahapuja a huge procession takes place in which the “Naga Bavas”( or sages without any clothes) sit on the elephants and hold blow conch shells and flags. A lot of cultural events are held on this occasion. Bhavai folk dance and many folk songs attract numerous visitors. The organizers serve up free meals to all the visitors who come to attend this festival.
In March-April Holi, Dangs Darbar and Chitra Vichitra Fair are celebrated.
- Kutch Utsav
The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat organizes this festival every year in the month of February-March. The Kutch Utsav is mainly celebrated to promote the tourism in the Kutch district. During this festival the guests are taken on a tour of 6 days. The visitors get an opportunity to witness a wide range of sights. Apart from the sightseeing Kutch also offers historic towns, vibrant people and outstanding handicrafts to the visitors.
- Chitra Vichitra Fair
After 14 days of the festival of holi, the Chitra Vichitra fair is held at a village named Gunbhakheri located near Khedbrahma. This fair is arranged at the convergence of rivers and is believed to be very auspicious owing to the curing powers of the site. As per the legends, Vichitravira and Chitravira were healed of diseases when they dwelled at this very place. The name of the fair has been derived from these 2 people. This is a tribal fair in which the Bhil and Garasia “Adivasis” take part and play drums. Women sing folk songs to make the atmosphere livelier.
In July-August the Janmashtami and Rath Yatra are celebrated with great enthusiasm.
- Dangs Darbar
A few days prior to Holi the Dangs Darbar is held in Ahwa every year. This is also a tribal fair which is celebrated by performing tribal dances and playing tribal instruments like Tadpur and Kahalia. This fair is attended by a plethora of “Adivasis” and the chiefs of the tribals come in colorful traditional attire.
Janmashtami is a blissful occasion which is celebrated in Dwarka. Shri Krishna’s birthday is celebrated on this very day and the temple in Dwarka is beautifully decorated on this auspicious day. In this festival bhajans and kirtans are sung, lectures are delivered and the temple is bejeweled with rows of lights. Lord Krishna is worshipped by a plethora of devotees on this day.
In August-September the Ravechi Fair, Tarnetar Fair and the Bhadra Purnima Fair are mainly celebrated.
- Rath Yatra
In the heart of Ahmedabad city, Jagdish temple is located which is thronged by a plethora of pilgrims during the Rath Yatra festival. A huge procession takes place during this event and the statues of Balram, Shri Krishna and Subhadra are seated in the temple chariot. Thousands of devotees pull this chariot. Camels, elephants and ornamented trucks go along with this procession. The procession proceeds through various lanes and streets of Ahmedabad.
- Ravechi Fair
In the Rapar Taluka of the Kutch district there exists a temple named Ravechi Mata temple which is situated near Nana Reva. The Ravechi Fair takes place at this temple and it is attended by above 30, 000 people every year. The local handicrafts are sold at the stalls set up at this fair. Hand-made fabrics, embroidery, mirror work, lace works and homemade garments are some special items that can be purchased from this fair. People from various communities like Rabri, Charan and Ahir take part in the Ravechi fair.
- Tarnetar Fair
Located about 75 km from the Rajkot city in Saurashtra there is a village named Tarnetar where this colorful fair is held every year in the month of September. The fair continues for 3 days. People bedeck themselves in stylish and vibrant dhotis, waistcoat and turbans. They also carry huge and multicolored umbrellas with beautiful embroidery on them. These umbrellas have become a symbol of Tarnetar Fair. The Tarnetar fair is also famous for matchmaking and a lot of the tribal youths come at this fair to find a suitable match for them.
According to the legends, this village was earlier known as Panchal Pradesh which finds it mention in Mahabharat. This is the place where Draupadi hailed from and at this place her “Swayambar” took place. Moreover, at this very place Arjuna won Draupadi in the Swayambar by showing his brilliant archery performance. The fair encompasses above 300 stalls that sell various things and also offer a variety of food stuff and refreshments. Folk dances such as Hodo and Garba Raas and folk music are the main features of the Tarnetar Fair. Apart from these there are merry-go-rounds for kids as well as cattle show, photographer’s stalls, embroidery exhibitions, family planning stall and competitive sports are also organized.
In October-November festivals like Deepavali and Navratri are celebrated and among fairs the Shamlaji fair and the Vautha Fair are prevalently celebrated.
- Bhadra Purnima Fair
Every year in September, the Bhadra Purnima fair takes place and continues for 3 days. This fair is held at the temple of Ambaji Mata located in the Ambaji village in North Gujarat. Ambaji is the main goddess in Gujarat. During this fair the Garba and Bhavai dances are performed. The Bhadra Purnima Fair is attended by above 5 lakh people every year.
Navratri is the most important and vibrant festival of Gujarat. This festival is celebrated with immense gusto for nine days throughout the state of Gujarat. During this festival people gather to perform “Pooja” to the 9 different forms of Goddess. The Pooja is performed every night and the 9 nights are divided into 3 sections. The first section is for deity Durga, second is for the deity Lakshmi and the third section is for deity Saraswati. On the 10th day of Navaratri, Vijayadashami is celebrated which is also famous as “Dusshera”. During Navaratri Dandia and Garba dances are performed by men and women all over the Gujarat. In the major towns and cities of Gujarat Garba competitions are held. In Baroda at the Ambaji temple, Bhavai dance is performed during Navaratri.
- Shamlaji Fair
Every year in November in the district of Sabarkantha in Northern Gujarat, the Shamlaji Fair is held which continues for 3 weeks. The Shamlaji Fair takes place at the Shamlaji Temple which is a well-known Vaishnav temple in Gujarat and was constructed in 11th century. This fair is very famous among the tribal community, especially the Bhills who worship the deity Shamlaji. Devotional songs are sung by the visitors attending this fair.
- Vautha Fair
Vautha is located at about 60 kms from Ahmedabad and here at Sangam Tirth(which is the convergence point of 7 rivers) the Vautha Fair takes place. This is considered to be one of the largest fairs in Gujarat. The name “Vautha” is the meeting point of 2 rivers -Vatrak and Sabarmati where this fair is held. Vautha Fair takes place in the month of November and it goes on for 2 to 3 days. This fair also happens to be the biggest animal fair of Gujarat where hundreds of camels and thousands of donkeys are brought here for sale.
The fairs in Gujarat are a symbol of religious, social and cultural aspirations. Recently owing to the “Vibrant Gujarat Summit”, the fairs and festivals in Gujarat are now concentrated on the Global map. Due to this reason a large number of tourists are getting attracted to Gujarat for the “Kite Festival and Investors” Summit. Therefore, the trade fairs, industrial fairs and numerous commercial fairs are becoming more and more popular in Gujarat.
Gujarat fairs in festivals are mainly governed by the lunar and solar calendars of ancient world astrology. They generally rotate about a particular event such as a religious occasion or harvest season.
Also Read: Culture of Dwarka | Culture of Veraval | Culture of Wadhwan | Culture of Bhuj | Fairs and Festivals in Bhuj | Handicrafts of Bhuj | Khamir in Bhuj | Rann Utsav in Bhuj | Culture of Rajkot | Culture of Surat | Art and Craft of Surat | Festivals in Surat | Culture of Palanpur | Festivals in Palanpur | Culture of Porbandar | Culture of Jamnagar | Fair and Festivals in Jamnagar | Music in Jamnagar | Art and Culture in Ahmedabad | Festivals in Ahmedabad | Culture of Bharuch | Culture of Amreli | Culture of Bhavnagar | Culture of Dwarka | Culture of Gandhinagar | Culture of Gandhidham | Culture in Kalol | Culture of Mehsana | Culture of Vapi | Culture of Wadhwan | Culture of Rajkot