CULTURE & HERITAGE
Language and Script
The language of practically the entire population is what is known as western Hindi. The returns of the census 1981 showed that this language was spoken by about 96.8 per cent of the population. In 1971, the percentage of Hindi speaking persons was 96.4. Western Hindi is split up into several subdivisions. In 1981, the language known as Hindustani or Urdu was spoken by about 3.10 per cent (3.35 per cent in 1961) of the people, representing for the most part the inhabitants of Etawah city, while the bulk of the people spoke Antarbedi, or its varient called Pachharua, so called after the tract of that name. In the trans-Yamuna portion of the district the dialect is known as Bhadauri, which is a form of Bundelkhandi, itself a branch of Hindi. It derives its name from Bhadawar, the home of the Bhadoria Rajputs. A few people also speak Punjabi, Bengali or Sindhi. Devannagri script is being used for Hindi and its allied branches such as Garhwali, Kumauni etc. and the script used for Urdu is Persian. The other languages generally using their own scripts.
Religion and Caste
In 1991, Hindus percentage was 92.79% against the state average of 83.76% and 6.63% of Musalims as compared to the state average of 15.48%. The remaining 0.58% of the district population was comprised of Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Buddhists.
Festivals and Fairs
The series of festivals commence with Sheetla Ashtmi, which falls on the 8th day of the first fortnight of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calender, when goddess Sheetla is worshipped. The 9th day of the bright fortnight of that month is called Ram Navmi, when the birthday of Lord Rama is celebrated with great rejoicings and fairs are held at Lakhna and other places. The 10th day of the latter half of Jyaistha is called the Ganga or Jeth Dasahra, when the Hindus take a bath in the river. Nag Panchami falls on the 5th day of the bright half of Sravana, when the Nagas or serpent gods are worshiped by offering of milk, flowers and rice. On Raksha Bandhan, which falls on 15th day of bright half of the same month, rakhis (thread symbolising protection) are tied by sisters around the right wrist of their brothers and by Brahmana priests to their patrons. Janmashtmi is observed on the 8th day of the dark half of Bhadra to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. The 30th day of Asvina is the Pitra Visarjan Amavasya, when manes are propitiated.
The worship of Durga is continued for nine day during the bright half of Asvina, known as Nav-Ratri and the 9th day of that is known as Durga Naumi. The next day is Dasahra or Vijaya Dashmi, dedicated to the worship of goddess Vijaya, also commemorating the victory of Rama over Ravana. The Ramlila celebrations are held at various places in the district. The 4th day of the bright half of Kartika is called Karva Chauth, when married women keep fast for the well-being of their husbands. Deepawali falls on the last day of the dark fortnight of Kartika, but festivities start two days earlier with Dhan Teras, celebrated as the birth day of Dhanvantri, the divine physician. On the main day of the festival every Hindu house is illuminated and the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. On the third day of Deepawali, after Goverdhan and Chitragupta or Dawait puja, Bhaiya Dweej is celebrated when ladies put Roli mark (tika) on the forehead of their brothers. On the 8th day of bright half of that month, the Gopasthmi is celebrated when the cow is worshipped. A big bathing festival is organised on Kartika Puranmashi, the full moon day, when people take a bath in the river and fairs are held at different places in the district. The Sakat Chauth falls on the 4th day of the dark half of Magha when the male children cut the figure of a goat made of til and their mothers keep fasts.
A fast observed and the temples of Shiva are specially decorated. For the Arya Samajists, Shivaratri is a memorable day because Dayananda, the son of a devotee of Shiva and the founder of this school got enlightenment on this night. They celebrate the week preceding this day as Rishi-bodha-saptah and arrange discourses by learned scholars for the seven days.
About sixty fairs, big and small, are held annually in the district. Most of the festivals are accompanied by local fairs too. Of these, the exhibition and cattle fair of Etawah is the most important. They are attended by about 2,00,000 persons and heads of cattle sold number between 10,000 and 15,000.
They celebrate almost all the important festivals, but the number of their festivals is limited. The important ones are being given below. Their festivals start with the Ashra (Muharram), which falls on the 10th day of Muharram. The first ten days of the month of Muharram are devoted to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet of Islam and His companions on the battle field of Karbala, and are particularly observed as a mourning period by the Shias. On Ashra, the last of the ten days being the most important one, when Imam Husain was killed, the tazias are taken out in procession for burial at Karbala. Chehlum, on the 20th of Safar, failing on the 40th day from Ashra, usually marks the end of the period of moukrning. On the 12th of the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal falls Barawafat mwhich marks the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, when alms art distributed amd discourses on His life and missions are hedld. Shabe-barat the 14th day of Shaban, is a festival of rwejoicing marking the birth of the 12th Imam. It is celebrated by a display of fireworks, distribution of sweets, and fatiha prayers for the peace of the souls of departed ones. Ramzan is the month of fasting and on its expirty i.e. on visibility of the moon the festival of Id-ul-fitar is celebrated on Shawwal Ist by offering namaz in Idgahs and mosques, and exchanging gifts and greetings. The Id-ul-Zuha their last festival, is celebrated on the 10th of the month of Zilhij, to commemorate the occasion when Prophet Ibrahim resolved to treat his son Ismail as an offering to mark the highest form of the sacrificial spirit which was blessed by God the mercifulo who rewarded him by not busting Ismail and having a sheep to sanctify the altar instead. The Muslims say their namaz (community prayers) in Idgahs and sacrifice sheep and goats. The typical feature of these two festivals is the eating of sewain.
The important festivals of Shikhs are the birthdays of Guru Nanak Deva and Guru Govind Singh when processions are taken out, congregational prayers are held in gurdwaras and extract from the holy Granth are recited. Their festivals are Baisakhi and Lohri, local fairs are held at gurdwaras on each occasion.
The important festivals of the Christians are Christmas, falling on December 25th, marking the birthday of Jesus Christ, Good Friday which commemorates his crucifixion, and Easter in memory of his resurection. New Year’s Day (1st day of January) is also celebrated by them and the Christmas celebrations usually end with new year.
They celebrate the birth and the nirvana anniversaries of the last Tirthankara, Mahavira, the former on the 13th day of the bright half of Chaitra and the latter on the Deepawali day. The Paryushan or the Dashalakshanaparva, during the last days of Kartika, Phalguna and Asadha are the periodical holy days when the devotees observe a fast and perform worship in temples.
The prinipal festival of the Buddhists is the Buddha Purnima, celebrated on the last day of Vaisakha, which marks the birthday of Buddha as well as his nirvana.
Men are not so fond of ornaments, sometime they wear a gold or silver ring on their finger, and a thin chain around the neck. Women, generally, adorn their wrists with churis (banglse) made of glass, silver or gold, anguthis (finger rings), necklaces, nose-ring, nose-pendent, nose-stud, ear-ring, payal, bichua (only maried women) waist girdle and the like. The poor people usually go in for silver ornaments and the rich have gold pieces sometimes studded with precious stones and pearls. The lust for heavy jewellery is, however, on the decline partly due to the high prices of gold and silver, and poartly because of social transformation and fear of loss.
The Uttar Pradesh Petrochemical Complex(UPPC) of Gas Authority of India Limited is located at Pata, Distt. Etawah, U.P. It was set up in accordance with GAIL�s mission to maximise the value addition from each fraction of Natural Gas.
Wheat constitutes the staple food of the people, other materials commonly consumed here as food being maize, barley, gram and jowar. Chapaties prepared from kneaded wheat or corn flour are generally eaten with dal or gur and milk. The pulses consumed here are urd, arhar, moong, chana, masur etc. One major meal is taken at about 1 P.M. in the day. Breakfast consists of tea and any of the Indian or western stuff. At nightfall the people take a light meal. Among edible fats ghee, vanaspati and mustard oil are more commonly used. The pure ghee of Etawah is quite famous for its thickness and purity. Spicy diet is not preferred though people are quite fond of pickles, chutneys and bari-mangauris.
Dance and Music
Popular varieties of folk music prevalent through out western U.P. e.g. the Allaha, Phaag, Kajari and Rasiyas, etc. are popular in this district as well, and are sung at different times of the year. Folk songs known as Dhola, Unchari and Langadia are also very common in the villages. Bhajans, Kirtan in a chorus to the accomplishment of musical instruments is very much liked by the inhabitants of the district.
A number of open air performances, combining the rural style of folk music and dancing with a central theme are a regular feature of rural life in the district. The dance named Banjasha is one of the most popular folk dances of villagers of the district. Nautankis and dramas based on mythology are often staged and attract large gatherings, particularly in the villages.