The Garhwali live in Uttarakhand, which is divided into two regions. The two regions are the Garhwal in the West and the Kumaon in the East. The Nanda Devi mountain is the natural divide among the Garhwal and Kumaon region.

Garhwal in Uttarakhand is a nature's paradise and it attracts tourist from all over the world. It is surrounded with high snow covered peaks, beautiful valleys and scenic surroundings.

It offers the tourist everything right from scenic surroundings, peaceful environment and adventure sports. Garhwal is also rightly known as the Abode of Gods.

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    Geography and Population

    The Garhwal regions consist of 7 districts, namely Chamoli, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Rudraprayag, Haridwar and Tehri Garhwal. It is spread approximately over 55,000 sq. km studded with high snow mountain covered peaks, huge glaciers, alpine meadows, mighty rivers and diversified flora and fauna.

    People living in Garhwal are known as Garhwali. The total population of Uttarakhand according to 2011 census was around 10,086,292 out of which the total population of people living across the 7 districts of Garhwal is around 58,57,294. We can estimate a total of approx 50 lakhs Garhwali living in Uttarakhand.

    It can also be further estimated of around 2 crores of Garhwali living in Delhi and Mumbai alone.

    Garhwali Community and Culture

    The Garhwali are very god fearing, fun loving, large hearted and religious people. There is a lot of influence of religion, dharma in every aspect of their lives.

    Men and women are both equally treated in the society. The Garhwali still follow ancient customs and rituals and these aspects of their culture reflect in their society.

    Caste system is still widely practised in Garhwal. The Pandits ( Bamand ) belong to the upper caste, the rajput ( Bhit ) to the middle and the shudra ( dom ) to the lower class. Inter class and inter caste marriages are not well accepted in the Garhwali community.

    Garhwali people follow Hinduism and all the hindu festivals such as Navratri, Shivratri, Makraini Sakraant, Basant Panchmi, Raksha Bandhan, Holi, Dussera, Diwali (Bagwali), Vijaydashmi are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

    The folk music of Garhwal are the Chhopati, Chounphula, Jhumeila, Basanti and the Mangal.
    The folk dance form of Garhwal are the Langvir Nritya, Barada Nati and the Pandav Nritya.
    The Dhol, Damoun, Turri, Ransingha, Dholki, Thali, Bhankora are the popular musical instruments used during the festive occasions and religious ceremonies.

    Disintegration of Garhwali Culture

    Due to geological hardships, economy and education backwardness in the area and lack of minimum basic facilities there is a large scale migration of the Garhwali people to the cities. Due to this the families then mix themselves with other people and usually a common culture and tradition is then followed. The next generation of Garhwali born in the cities then have literally no idea of any traditional values and culture and so hesitate to follow them.

    Dhol Damo has given way to DJ beats, Garhwali songs are now seldom played during marriage ceremonies and the traditional mangal rhymes have now entirely dissappeared. Lack of education and also less attraction towards the upliftment of the culture has brought a massive downfall of the Garhwali culture and traditions.

    Most of the Garhwali culture and tradition is preserved in folk form and passed down verbally from generation to generation so this also has a major effect in the dwindling of the Garhwali culture and traditions.

    Garhwali Language

    The language spoken by the people of Garhwal is known as Garhwali. There can be approximately around 2.5 crore Garhwali in India. The script used for Garhwali is Devanagari and it is one of the 325 recognised languages of India.

    The language of the Khasas, is believed to be the source of Garhwali language. Later Aryans with their Vedic Sanskrit and Prakrit languages, Saurseni and Rajasthani Apbhransha have added to the vocabulary and have made significant contribution in shaping the Garhwali language. Garhwali has many regional dialects, few of them are as Tihriyali ( Tehri Garhwal ), Nagpuriya ( Rudraprayag ), Salani ( Pauri Garhwal ), Gangadi ( Uttarkashi ), Badhani ( Chamoli Garhwal ) etc.

    Issues regarding Garhwali Language

    • Due to large scale migration of the Garhwali people to the cities.
    • Minimal use of Garhwali language for communication.
    • The use of Hindi in everyday life within the family by the Garhwali
      is also a growing concern and one of the biggest dangers to the Garhwali language.
    • Lack of government support for the language.
    • Lack of interest shown by the people itself.
    • Rapidly shrinking language.

    There are demands for making Garhwali an official language of Uttarakhand so that it can be taught in the schools and universities and the language can be saved.

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    Garhwali References

    Reference Garhwali on Wikipages