With a strong lineage of Indian emperors ruling this state, the culture of Karnataka has been shaped by like Mauryas, Chalukyas the Hoysalas, and the Vijayanagar empire. They have left behind a rich cultural heritage that is still evident in the everyday life. Karnataka is also home of various tribes like Kodavas, Konkanis, and Tuluvas. The beautiful land has been blessed with timeless monuments, world heritage sites, luscious green forest, marvelous wildlife, romantic hill stations, stunning beaches and vibrant culture that resonates it all. The diversity it offers in terms of the language, arts, crafts and festivals is astounding. The royal patronage of the Vijaynagar empire has left a long vivacious history and illustrious landmarks that has led to them being declared as World Heritage sites. The ‘art’ and ‘craft’ work of Karnataka is evident in every sphere of our daily lives. Read on to find out more about this rich cultural land.
Arts and Crafts
Some of the most famous crafts of Karnataka are wood carving, ivory carving, stone carving, doll making and the famous sandalwood crafts. These include articles such as Krishna images, lamp shades, trays, jewel boxes, decorative articles, combs and walking sticks with rosewood handles. Bidar is famous for bidriware craft done on a metal plate of zinc, copper, tin and lead. Mysore paintings need no introduction and are famous all over the world.
Karnataka is home to various types of dance forms. Kunitha, the traditional dance form of Karnataka is performed on the beats of decorated drums and singing. The Kunitha has many forms like Dollu Kunitha, Puja Kunitha, Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha, Suggi Kunitha, Pata Kunitha, the Gorava Kunitha and the Kamsale. The classical dance style is the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, while Kuchipudi and Kathak are other popular dance forms. Karnataka is also very well-known for its folk dances like Krishna Parijatha, Bhootha Aradhane and Nagamandala. Yakshagana is a dance drama that enchants the audience with its music and colorful performances.
Indian classical music owes a lot to Karnataka with its Carnatic and Hindustani styles of music making huge contributions to it. Also written as ‘Karnatic music’ this musical culture dates from the earliest of times. Karnataka’s music is known as Sopanam, which means ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ of the temple. Karnataka is also home to many musical maestros in both styles of music including Gangubai Hangal, Mallikarjun Mansur, Bhimsen Joshi, Basavaraja Rajaguru and Sawai Gandharva.
Apart from Kannadigas, Karnataka is home to Tuluvas, Kodavas and Konkanis. It has also welcomed minor populations of Tibetan Buddhists and tribes like the Soligas, Yeravas, Todas and Siddhis also live in Karnataka. They all live in an intimate and loving environment with their immediate neighbuors namely, the Marathas, the Andhras, the Tamilians and the Malayalis. Lot of people from the neighbouring region of Tamil Nadu have migrated to Karnataka. There are also many tribal communities residing like the Voddas, Lambanis and Okkaligas. Thus, people of Karnataka are an extremely varied mix of ethnic, racial and religious affiliations.
Like any other state, Karnataka also has its share of delectable cuisines with ingredients, flavors and the tastes that are distinctive and versatile from other cuisines around the country. In Karnataka there are these different varieties of cuisines: Mangalorean, Malnad, Kodagu, North Karnataka and the modern Bangalorean version. Some of the famous food items prepared on special occasions and otherwise are Akki Roti, Bendekaayi Gojju, Bharda Playa, Bisi Bele Bath, Chiroti, Ginger-Masala Tea, Holige, Kosumbari, Majjige Huli, Mysore Bonda, Uppittu and Yogirathna.
Just like any other Indian state, Karnataka is also a potpourri of various religions. The most popular religion is Hinduism. Dating back to the time when Adi Shankaracharya chose Sringeri in Karnataka to establish the first of his four mathas. Later in the 12th century Veerashaivism emerged in northern Karnataka as a protest against the rigidity of the prevailing social and caste system. Jainism is also followed by many communities in Karnataka. Other religions followed are Christianity and Islam.
Fairs & Festivals
Karnataka is marked by some of the most colorful and pompous fairs and festivals. The state festival or Nada habba is the Mysore Dasara. Another most important festival is the Ugadi, the Kannada New Year. Other festivals are Makara Sankranti (the harvest festival), Ganesh Chaturthi, Nagapanchami, Basava Jayanthi, Deepavali, and Ramzan. Since Karnataka is home to many beautiful temples, it celebrates many colorful fairs also. There are important fairs related to every city and village of the district. Some of them are Sri Vitappa Fair, Sri Shidlingappa’s Fair, Godachi Fair, Shri Yellamma Devi Fair and Banashankari Devi Fair. Apart from the religious festivals, the state also conducts splendid dance festivals and other fairs.
The diversity and various religious ethnicities have created an immensely beautiful varied cultural amalgamation in the state of Karnataka. The various temples and monuments have only added to the rich cultural festival leading to a state that is beautiful throughout its length and breadth.