CULTURE

Madhya Pradesh is where Gods meet Kings. Located in the heart of India, it is bestowed with not just natural beauty and an enviable green cover, but also with magnificent edifices of times of yore. These hark back of eras of the Mauryan Empire ( 300 BC); exemplify the greatest of Emperor Ashoka ; capture the essence of Rajput culture; portray the flamboyance of the Mughals; showcase the Victorian grandeur of the British. Alongside the testimonials of these great kings a warriors stand the monuments of their inspiration, strength and undying faith- Buddhist Stupas, temples, mosques and churches.

If there is one region that is home to true diversity in culture and religious heritage, it is Madhya Pradesh. It represents the pulse and heart of India. So, if you really wish to discover India, experience Madhya Pradesh. Given the vast expense of the state and its rich reserve of heritage, it is best to try and explore its magnificence through travel along two popular circuits- one in the south-west region and the other towards the north-east. Both offer an enchanting mix of heritage and pilgrimage.

The land of Madhya Pradesh is steeped in distinctive traits of Art and Culture. The time of yore has witnessed the flourishing of majestic tradition of art, music, literature, architecture, philosophy, painting and so forth here. Glorious temples, magnificent places, divine poets like Kalidas, Bhartrihari, Bihari, musical master like Tansen, Baiju Baora, political prodigies- Vikramaditya, Raja Bhoj, Rani Durgawati and Ahilya Bai and many more are the pride of Madhya Pradesh.

Art & Architecture

Ancient temples, fortresses, and cave works reflect the rich history of Madhya Pradesh. In the foothills of the Vindhya Range, prehistoric paintings dating from roughly 10,000 B.C. adorn the walls of the Bhimbetka rock shelters (designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003). The other important sites in Madhya Pradesh which have been declared as the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986) including Devi Jagadambi temple, Rewa and Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989).

The Bhimbetka rock shelters are archaeological sites exhibiting the earliest traces of human life in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Some of the Stone age rock paintings found among the Bhimbhetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old. The caves also deliver early evidence of dance. They were declared a World Heritage Site in 2003.
Executed mainly in red and white with the occasional use of green and yellow, with themes taken from the everyday events of aeons ago, the scenes usually depict hunting, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animals fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. Animals such as bisons, tigers, lions, wild boars, elephants, antelopes, dogs, lizards, crocodiles, etc. have been abundantly depicted in some caves. Popular religious and ritual symbols also occur frequently.
The Khajuraho temples, in northern Madhya Pradesh, are widely recognized for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism erotic art; they were built by the Chandella kings, who ruled in the region roughly from the early 9th to the mid-11th century. The various surviving temples, the Kandariya temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art.
In west-central Madhya Pradesh, one of the state’s oldest historical monuments is the stupa (Buddhist mound forming a memorial shrine) at Sanchi, near Vidisha. Originally constructed by Ashoka, emperor of India from about 265 to 238 B.C., the stupa was expanded by the Shunga kings, who ruled the area during the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. The remains of another stupa, dating to about 175 B.C., were excavated in Bharhut, near Satna, and are now housed in the Indian Museum at Kolkata; the distinctive narrative style of decoration found on this stupa is known as Bharhut sculpture.
The Bandhavgarh Fort is situated in Bandhavgarh in Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located on the Bandhavgarh hill, rising 811 meters above sea level at the centre of the Bandhavgarh National Park. It is a surrounded by a large number of smaller hills separated by gently sloping valleys. These valleys end in small, swampy meadows, locally known as ‘bohera’. The fort is also home to many of the endangered species of Vulture in India. Bandhavgarh Fort was the business centre for the traders traveling between Kaushambi and Bharhut, at that time known as Bardawati (Bhaudhya root). In the rein of kalchuri’s it was called “Haihay Kshetra”. The Vakataka dynasty used this place and various stone Writings are found written by them. They made the place to live by cutting stones. There are some ruins found of the Fort in the Bamania Hill near Bandhavgarh and there are many sculptures and coins found in the nearby villages near Bandhavgarh, Bijhariya, Mala which prove the economical and artistic situation of the kingdom.

Festivals

Being a highly spiritual State, festivals are at the heart of people’s lives in Madhya Pradesh. The numerous and varied festivals that are held throughout the year offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best. The following popular festivals in India will provide you with a truly memorable experience. Festivals of Madhya Pradesh are celebrated throughout the State with Great Spirit and devotion. This festival reflects the traditional spirit and culture of the people of Madhya Pradesh. Religious festivals are celebrated by various communities living together in Madhya Pradesh. These fairs and festivals are a unique symbol of national integrity and pride for the people of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh is home to numerous religious, cultural and spiritual fairs & festivals. But there are some very popular festivals which are well known and are celebrated by all over the State.

The country has a rich cultural heritage and is home to people from diverse religions. It is a universally acknowledged truth that every religion gets its own unique expression from the festivals celebrated by its followers on various occasions.

This colourful festival of the Bhils and Bhilalas in the state of Madhya Pradesh is actually a marriage market held before the Holi festival in the month of March. The God of Dance, Bhagoradev is worshipped on this occasion with much devotion and dedication. This auspicious ceremony is presided over by the most respected village elder who also offers sweetmeats to the God. During this festival the young men goes on applying red colour powder or `gulal` to the girls they like. If the girl applies the powder in return that means she has granted the permission the young man needs to marry her. The mutual exchange of betel leaf is also considered to be the declaration of love. The tribal people of Madhya Pradesh form an important part of its culture and contribute to the colourful graffiti of the state. They have their indigenous norms, moral yardsticks and tribal heritage that they strive to preserve. This unique tradition and vibrant culture comes alive in the Bhagoriya festival of Jhabua.
Kumbha in Ujjain known as Simhastha, is a grand and one of the holiest fairs of the country. It has got very high religious values and is held here in a cycle of every twelve years when Jupiter enters the Leo sign of the Zodiac known as Simha rashi. The next Simhastha, Mahakumbh 2016 is scheduled between 22nd April – 21st May 2016. On the bank of the holy river Kshipra, Simhastha is held with all its grand paraphernalia and millions of people from whole of the world gather here for their spiritual elevation. In fact , apart from its importance, in terms of being the venue for Simhastha, the ancient city Ujjain enjoys the reputation of having one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. The city takes pride in being a great seat of learning when Lord Krishna and his friend Sudama were taught bt Guru Sandipani Rishi here. It is also a land of the great poet Kalidas and the saints like Sandipani and Bhartrihari.
This three –day congregation is considered among the most important religious occasions celebrated in Bhopal. Ijtima is held every year and is accompanied by a fair. When the events place, a guest of spirituality prevails over the city and Muslims from all over the globe in “Jamaats” (group of devotees) descend here. “Jamaatis” from the countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Turkey, Thailand and Srilanka arrive here to camp for three days & listen to the holy sermons of Islamic scholars on how to lead conscientious and upright life by following good values. The event also holds special religious discourses for intellectuals, students, traders, farmers etc. with underlying message of universal brotherhood. This conclave is considered to be one of the largest religious congregations in the world and disseminates spiritual message, which are relevant to not just the Muslims but for all communities.
This colourful festival of the Bhils and Bhilalas in the state of Madhya Pradesh is actually a marriage market held before the Holi festival in the month of March. The God of Dance, Bhagoradev is worshipped on this occasion with much devotion and dedication. This auspicious ceremony is presided over by the most respected village elder who also offers sweetmeats to the God. During this festival the young men goes on applying red colour powder or `gulal` to the girls they like. If the girl applies the powder in return that means she has granted the permission the young man needs to marry her. The mutual exchange of betel leaf is also considered to be the declaration of love. The tribal people of Madhya Pradesh form an important part of its culture and contribute to the colourful graffiti of the state. They have their indigenous norms, moral yardsticks and tribal heritage that they strive to preserve. This unique tradition and vibrant culture comes alive in the Bhagoriya festival of Jhabua.

People

Madhya Pradesh has always preserved its rich heritage. The classical tradition of music and dance has been customary here. The state has made outstanding contribution in rare arts. Playwrights like Satyadev Dubey and Habib Tanvir; music prodigies like Dagar, Asgari Bai, Amjad Ali are the ones this state is identified with.

Madhya Pradesh is known as the Heart of India not only for its centre position but also for its culture vividness. In every part of it, different and rich traditions of music have been developed. Gwalior is considered as one of the important centres of the Indian music. It is the place of Tansen’s devotion to music and the birthplace of Dhrupad too. The oldest Madhav Music School is located here. Soaked with the love- stories of Rupmati and Baz Bahadur, Malwa inspired the devotees of music. From the Marangacharya Nana Saheb Panse to the Dagar brothers, many great musicians belonged to this land.

Arts painting have been a part of the life in Madhya Pradesh. There is an old tradition of drawing and painting. The great painters like D.J. Joshi, Syed Haider Raza, Narayan Shridhar Bendre, Vishnu Bhatnagar, Maqbool Fida Hussain, Amrit Lal Vegad and Kalyan Prasad Sharma are the contribution of Madhya Pradesh on the canvas of painting.

Dance & Music

With a legacy of musicians, Indian classical songs as well as folk songs form a part of the distinctive culture of the state. Relo, a kind of folk song of tribal children of the Sing Maria and Muria tribes is one of the popular music of the state. Dhankul songs and Chait Parah are even popular in the state. The Jagdalpur region of this central Indian state is known for their typical type of songs called Leha. Leha song is a kind of ritual song, which is usually sung while departing from the near and dear people. Madhya Pradesh musicians mainly use musical instruments like flute and harmonium.

The most prominent forms of dance of the state are Lota and Phag. Almost every celebration of the Bastar based tribal group of Maria Gonds is featured with dance. Gaur, a special form of wedding dancing is quite popular among the different tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Besides these, prevalence of varied forms of stilt dances is found there. Dressed in vibrant clothes, the tribes dance on their native melodies to depict the varied cultural as well as socio-political aspects. Bharat Bhavan, located in Bhopal is one of the renowned hubs of culture of Madhya Pradesh.

GAUR DANCE

The Karma dance is directly associated with the fertility cult and Karma festival celebrated in the month of August. Karma dance is especially popular with the Gonds and Baigas of Chhatisgarh and the Oraons of north-western Madhya Pradesh. The Karma dance is one of the oldest dance forms of the Adivasis of Madhya Pradesh and also is the most popular among them. The Majhwars of the Sarguja district perform the dance at the end of the rainy season, while the Baigas and the Gonds performs the dance at any time of the year.

SAILA DANCE

The Saila dance is a form of stick dance and is very popular among the people of Sarguja, Baitul and Chhindwara districts. In some of the regions, Saila dance is also known as Dandar Pate or Danda Nach. The dancers usually stand on one foot and hold onto the next dancer. Then, they all hop and dance together. The Snake dance is the climax of the Saila dance. There are many different varieties of Snake dance such as Thadi Saila, Shikari Saila, Chakramar Saila, Artari Saila and Chamka Kunda Saila. The Dasera dance is also performed by the Baigas, before the occasion of Diwali. The Ahirs of the region also perform another kind of dance known as the Danda dance.

KARMA DANCE

The Karma dance is directly associated with the fertility cult and Karma festival celebrated in the month of August. Karma dance is especially popular with the Gonds and Baigas of Chhatisgarh and the Oraons of north-western Madhya Pradesh. The Karma dance is one of the oldest dance forms of the Adivasis of Madhya Pradesh and also is the most popular among them. The Majhwars of the Sarguja district perform the dance at the end of the rainy season, while the Baigas and the Gonds performs the dance at any time of the year.