Myriad shades of Culture with a tinge of folk art and a dash of fusion. That’s how you describe Chhattisgarh, an authentic, raw and beautiful land of souls. A state blessed with a magnificent history and mythological importance, unique culture and heritage, myriad forms of renowned art, huge diversity of flora and fauna, rich mineral deposit and it’s special fragrance of being one of the fastest developing states of the nation but still staying close to its roots, the one still keeping the old traditions alive and making the state distinct in its own manner.

By: Muneeta Aneja

BRIEF HISTORY OF DAKSHIN-KAUSHAL:
In ancient times the region was known as Dakshin-Kaushal, which finds special mention in holy Ramayana and Mahabharata also. Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman had started their exile from the Dandakaranya region of Bastar. They spent more then 10 years of their 14 year exile period, in Chhattisgarh itself.
Within the period of sixth and twelth centuries Sarabhpurias, Panduavanshi, Somvanshi, Kalchuri and Nagvanshi rulers dominated this region. Kalchuris ruled in Chhattisgarh from 980 to 1791 AD. With the advent of the British in 1845, Raipur gained prominence instead of the former capital Ratanpur.
Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh and individually came into existence as the 26th State of the Union on 1st November 2000 by partitioning ten Chhattisgarhi and six Gondi speaking southeastern districts of Madhya Pradesh.

TRADITIONAL FOOD & FASHION:
Known as the rice bowl of India, Chhattisgarh has a rich tradition and diversity of food. Chhattisgarhi food has always been a source of keeping the rich traditions and flavours of the state alive. The typical Chhattisgarhi thali consists of roti, bhat, dal or kadhi, curry, chutney and bhaji. Few Chhattisgarhi dishes are Aamat, Bafauri, Bhajia, Chousela, Dubkikadhi, Farra ,Khurmi ,Moong Bara, Thethari, and Muthia.

Muthia’s, a popular dish among the rurals of the state, are dumplings prepared with rice batter and seasoned with various spices. It is steamed and therefore retains the original flavor of its ingredients. Aamat is widely known as the Sambhar of the Bastar region. This delectable delicacy of the state is prepared with mixed vegetables which are cooked with various spices to enhance the flavor of the dish. Traditionally the dish is prepared in bamboo shoots, keeping the flavours of its ingredients intact and adding a unique aroma to it. Faraa is made in the form of dumplings, the main ingredient being rice. The dough of rice along with the minimum spices is steamed to get the light and healthy snack that hails from Chhattisgarh.
People collect Bami fish from their neighbourhood ponds, these fishes look like snake but are actually brought and sold in the local markets and consumed by local people, said Manish Rathore, a youtuber from Chhattisgarh. The market also had a glimpse of tribal hats, salfi and the local liquor made of mahua.

PC: Manish Rathore

FASHION:
Kachhora is a pattern and style, in which the tribal Chhattisgarhi women drape their sari, made from fabrics like cotton, silk and linen in bright and vibrant hues. The state is well known for its tribal weaving since ancient times. The women of Chhattisgarh are renowned for wearing `Lugda` (saree) and `Polkha` (blouse) with attractive ornaments and jewels. Batik weaving and tie-dye have been one of the prominent techniques of making fabrics in this state.

INNOVATIONS & FUSIONS WITH TIME:
With the pace of time, the fashion of Chhattisgarhi locals has evolved a lot with newer innovations and fusions. The Kachhora style saree which was worn originally by the tribal women is now adorned by the younger generations. It is now printed in fabrics which are easier to handle and are less on maintenance. Batik is now being used on shirts, salwar kameez and other forms of modern clothing.

ACCESSORIES:
Chhattisgarhi women accessorize their attires extensively, as they feel their look lacks the essence without it. Baandha- a type of Necklace which is made of coins is a common embellishment. Silver necklaces such as ‘suta’, a ‘phuli’ as a nose ring and ‘bali’ & ‘khuntis’ are used as earrings. Ainthi is also used as silver worn on forearm along with Patta. Choora (bangles) and Kardhani which is the belt made of silver is worn around the waist. Pounchhi is a ring worn on the upper arm. Bichhiya is the traditional ring worn on the toe, which is a symbol of marriage.

PC: Kamesh Verma

Men wear Koundhi which is a neckpiece made of beads and sometimes Kadhah which is a bangle worn during traditional ceremonies and festivals. These accessories and ornaments are symbolic of their culture and tradition.

FOLK ART, CULTURE AND HERITAGE:
The rich culture and heritage of Chhattisgarh is well embedded in its crafts and folk art.

BASTAR ART:
The tribal communities of Bastar have been protecting the rare art form created by them from generation to generation. The art forms are made by conventional tools rather than using the modern machinery.
Terracotta Art:
Terracotta is the finest quality clay obtained from the river Indrāvati and tribes of Bastar are skilled in curating the handcrafted terracotta products.

PC: Muneeta Aneja

Bamboo Craft:
Tribal of Bastar are skilled in making items from bamboo such as wall hangings, table lights, table mats, fishing traps, baskets and hunting tools.
Bell Metal Craft:
The Bell metal handicrafts which are created by hand through the vanishing wax system is something Bastar tribes are really renowned for. The bell metal art of Bastar zone prominently known as

PC: Muneeta Aneja

“Dhokra Craft” is found in Jagdalpur, Kondagoan and Narayanpur areas.
Wood craft:
Woodcraft from the tribal belt of Bastar is known for figures of tribal gods, cut wooden masks, and wall decorative items. Chhattisgarh is additionally well known for painted and lacquered wood item, for example, toys, boxes, bedposts, flower vase, candle holder cots.

BASTAR TRIBE AND CULTURE:
Talking about the Bastar Tribe and Culture, Kamesh Verma, a photographer said, Nine spears tribes are the soul of Bastar who belong from different castes and subcastes like Gond, Madiya, Muriya, Bhatara. The tribes have their own distinct culture & rituals. Parab is a bastariya dance form in which all the men and women gather around and hold each other while dancing. Local liquor made from Mahua Fruits is quite prevalent for consumption during celebrations.

BIRHORE TRIBES:
Birhors are of short stature, long head, wavy hair and broad nose and claim to have descended from the Sun. The primary source of income of the Birhors has been based on nomadic hunting and gathering particularly for monkeys, rabbits and titars, and collect and sell honey. They are found in some parts of Korba and Jashpur, said Manish Rathore, a travel blogger and youtuber.

PC: Manish Rathore

FOLK DANCE FORMS:
Panthi, Raut Nacha, Chaitra, Kaksar, Saila, Khamb-swang, Bhatra Naat, Rahas, Raai, Maao-Pata and Soowa are the several indigenous dance styles of Chhattisgarh. Some major dance forms of the state:

PANTHI NRITYA:
Performed by the Satnami community on the birth anniversary of Guru Ghasidas. The songs reflect a view of nirvana, conveying the spirit of their guru’s renunciation and the teachings of saint poets like Kabir, Ramdas and Dadu. As the rhythm quickens, they perform acrobatics and form human pyramids.

RAUT NACHA:
Raut Nacha, the folk dance of cowherds, is a traditional dance of Yaduvanshis as a symbol of worship to Krishna from the 4th day of Diwali (Goverdhan Puja) till the time of Dev Uthani Ekadashi.The dance closely resembles Krishna’s dance with the gopis.

SOOWA NACHA:
Soowa Nacha is a symbolic form of Chhattisgarhi dance, also known as Parrot Dance. Dancers keep a parrot in a bamboo-pot and form a circle around it. Then performers sing and dance, moving around it with clapping. This is one of the main dance form of tribal women of Chhattisgarh.

PC: Muneeta Aneja

KARMA NRITYA:
Tribal groups like Gonds, Baigas and the Oraons have this dance as a part of their culture. Both men and women arrange themselves in two rows and follow the rhythmic steps, directed by the singing group. The Karma tribal dance marks the end of the rainy season and the advent of spring season.
GEDI:
The dancers are mounted on two long bamboo or just any firm sticks and maneuver through the crowd of other Gedi (sticks) ridden dancers. Thumping on the ground, maintaining excellent balance as they sway to the tribal acoustics and percussions, this is one fun frolic and adventurous folk dance which has managed to keep it’s tradition alive.

I have contributed my life towards the development and revival of folk art of Chhatisgarh. The thousand year old folk musical instruments hardly exists in someone’s memory but I want the youth of Chhatisgarh to gather knowledge about it so that they can preserve and grow the folk art forms. I have practised dance forms like Raut Nacha and soowa nacha and we have many folk art traditions going back to over a thousand years, which constitute our precious heritage. We have to show that we value our culture and our roots, said Rikhi Kshatriya, while showing his home based museum where he has personally made and stored the thousand year old Chhatisgarhi musical instruments.

•FOLK MUSIC:
PANDAVANI: THE SOUL OF CHHATTISGARH-
Pandavani – means “Pandava Vani” , the story of Pandavas. The folk art form is predominantly popular in Chhattisgarh and has gained fame all over the world for its strong and bold narration.
It is a lyrical folk form of narration of events from Mahabharat. There are two styles of narration in Pandavani, Vedamati and Kapalik. In the Vedamati style, the lead artist narrates in a simple manner by sitting on the floor throughout the performance. The Kaplik style is livelier, where the narrator actually enacts the scenes and characters. Ritu Verma and Teejan Bai are noted exponent of this folk music form.

In frame- Teejan Bai, PC: Google

“Pandavani is a part of our culture and heritage and is strongly linked to the mythological aspect and roots of Chhattisgarh. It’s very important to keep it alive, said Ritu Verma, a renowned pandavani singer.

POPULAR FOLK INSTRUMENTS OF CHHATISGARH
Folk instruments like Chikara, Runju, Baans Baaja, tamboora, kuhuki, terracota musical instruments,.are the names which are rarely heard , but they have been an important part of Chhattisgarh’s rich folk heritage.

Madri

Madri:

Artists making Chhattisgarh’s folk instruments. PC: Muneeta Aneja

TOURISM:
People from all across the globe visit the state, to take a look at the natural scenic beauty, ancient monuments, temples and waterfalls. This young state situated at the heart of India has untouched, unexplored and hidden gems.

CHITRAKOT FALLS:
Chitrakoot waterfall is the largest waterfall in India and also may be the widest waterfall in Asia. It is popularly known as “the Niagara falls of India”. The wideness of the waterfall depends on the water level in the river Indravati and season to season varies drastically.

DHOLKAL PEAK:
Dholkal peak is one of the hidden treasures of Chhattisgarh. It is situated at Bailadila Mountains near Dantewada, Bastar. It is famous for the idol of lord Ganesha situated on top of 3000ft at Dholkal peak in the mountain, said Kamesh Verma.

TIRATHGARH FALL:
Tirathgarh fall is a waterfall near KangerGhati National Park, located 35kms south west of Jagdalpur.
The water falls from 299ft height and plunges into 4 single water droplets, affirmed Kamesh Verma.

PC: Kamesh Verma

FESTIVITIES:
BASTAR Dusshera longest festival of the world:
Famous all across the world, Bastar Dusshera is a unique cultural festivity of Chhattisgarh, celebrating the supreme power of goddess Danteswari. Here, people do not celebrate dusshera like others by burning Ravana. Instead its all about their Tribes, their Maharaja and their Gods and Goddesses. This is one of the major festivals of Bastar tribal people. ,considered the longest festival of the World, celebrated for about 75 days. During Navratri week, a four wheeled rath is made by a group of trained tribal. During evening, the chariot is pulled by the tribal people by ropes. It is a famous attraction for tourists in Chhattisgarh, said Kamesh Verma.
Manish rathore, added saying, In the last ritual of Bastar Dusshera, when everyone is gathered to take back danteshwari godess from KUMHRAKOT to temple, people lose their senses and are filled with extreme energies.

PC: 1st Kamesh Verma

,2nd – Manish Rathore

VIBRANT HUES OF HARELI:
Hareli, is a major festival celebrated by farmer community in Chhattisgarh with great pomp and enthusiasm. It holds great importance for the ‘Gond Tribes’ of Chhattisgarh. It marks the worshipping of Goddess ‘Kutki Dai’ by the farmers for a good yield and harvest. Farming equipment’s are worshipped on this auspicious day and the cows are paid reverence by the farmers.

TEMPLES & HERITAGE SITES:
Dakshin Kaushal is one of the most poise and spiritual places to visit. The state has some of the best and oldest architectural marvels and monumental heritage which narrate the rich history of Chhattisgarh out loud.

A TEMPLE WITH NO SPIRE: DEVBALODA:
The Ancient Mahadev temple Devbaloda is an important heritage , archaeological and pilgrimage site of Chhattisgarh , located near Bhilai Charoda railway line. The architectural marvels , beautiful rock encarvings , the never drying Kund and an incomplete structure with no spire or shikhar has made it unique and different from other temples .The mythological place dates back to the era of Kalchuris in the 13th century.

PC: Muneeta Aneja

BARSUR:
“BARSUR” is known as the village of temple and ponds. It was once an epicenter of Hindu civilization. ruled by Gangawanshi rulers in 840AD. Some famous temples like mama-bhanja temple, ganesha temple and battisa temple are situated here.
Battisa temple – It has 32 craved stone pillars constructed by Nagwanshi king SomesVaradva for her wife Ganga mahadevi.

Mama – bhanja temple – A 50 feet high temple called mama bhanja temple .It is belived that Mama and bhanja(maternal uncle amd nephew) can not go into the temple together.

Twin ganesha temple– Another attraction is Twin ganesha temple. There are two Ganesha idols in the same place, therefore it’s widely called the twin ganesha temple.

PC: Kamesh Verma

LAKSHMAN TEMPLE, SIRPUR:
One of the most prestigious archaeological sites of the state, is Sirpur- the capital of Chhatisgarh in 5th-6th century. Dating back to 625-650 AD, the Laxman Temple in Sirpur is one of the best examples of brick temples in India and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

VISHNU TEMPLE, JANJGIR:
The Vishnu Mandir was built by kings of Hayhay Vansh, near Bhima Talab of purani basti of Janjgir in the 12th Century. It was being constructed in two parts to make a full temple, but both the parts were not assembled in time and as a result, both the parts of the temple are laying on the ground separately and still the temple lies uncomplete. The temple is also called as Nakata Mandir by local people.

PC: Manish Rathore

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