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Art and Culture of Jammu Kashmir


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Art and Culture of Jammu Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir basks in its stupendous natural beauty. Along with this, it has a unique blend of cultural heritage that it has inherited from its past. As land of sufis and saints, it has strong influence of communal harmony ingrained in its social fabric. The state has varied topography and geographical conditions. With these variations, the culture of Jammu and Kashmir also changes dramatically in different regions. Its multi faceted culture embarks upon different ethical societies flourishing here since ancient times. Jammu and Kashmir truly displays the spirit of co-existence for every community and imbibed their culture into its mainstream.

Art and culture of Jammu and Kashmir

Even historically, Jammu and Kashmir has been a seat for learning for various cultural entities around the Central and south Asia. Its exemplary traditions are colorful and vibrant. The lifestyle, languages, dance, music, and arts of Jammu Kashmir have been reinvented with each age to excel in their form. Today, this state is not only visited for its scenic beauty or religious importance but also for its distinctive culture that changed with its three regions i.e. Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh.

People of Jammu and Kashmir

Despite their different origins and traditions, people in Jammu and Kashmir are bound by the common string of unity and cultural cohesion. They are warm and humble. Perhaps, this is the reason that tourists just love to visit this place again and again. The ethical groups in Jammu and Kashmir are mostly divided according to their roots and geographical existence.

People of Jammu and Kashmir

In Jammu region, Dogra culture has its strong foothold. It has striking resemblance to culture of Punjab on one hand and Himachal Pradesh on the other. Gujjars are second common ethical community in this region. They lead their lives as nomadic. Then, there are Gaddis from Chamba in Himachal. They belong to community of herdsmen. Also, in Jammu region as well as areas bordering with Vale of Kashmir, Bakkarwals community resides in large numbers. These are also nomadic groups flocking with their goats and sheep across the Himalayas.

Kashmir region is predominantly inhabited by Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits. This region has the greatest impact of history on its ethical existence. Various dynasties ruled over the valley and left behind their own cultural heritage to be followed as such. Religious entities were also largely affected with these invasions. Hence, Kashmir valley has a varied culture marked by its folk arts and enchanting handicrafts.

Music in Jammu and Kashmir

In Jammu region and Kashmir valley, music is largely influenced by Sufiana Kalam. It is the genre of music that flourished here under the Muslim rulers. Music in this state is quite varied due to influence of Central, South, and East Asia. However there are slight variations with geographical distances. In Jammu region, there is clear impact of North Indian music while in Ladakh; it is inspired from Tibetan style of music. In Kashmir valley, Central Asian music holds significant position.

Types of Folk Music in Jammu and Kashmir

In composition of Kashmiri music, you can feel the influence of its cultural diversity. Musical instruments, tones, and scales of Central Asia enrich this genre of music. The folk artists of this state perform many types of music that include:

This folk music of Jammu and Kashmir spreads the message of love. It is played with instruments like harmonium, sarangi, nout, and rubab. It is mostly played during weddings in the state. It ends with Rouf. Rouf is name given to a dance form in Kashmir but here, the fast ending notes of Chakri are also called Rouf.

This is a sarcastic and humorous form of music in Jammu and Kashmir. It targets the political and social issues in a cynical tone. During the harvesting period of state, singers of Ladishah move from one village to another singing about the local issues. They are quite interesting to listen with their rustic tones.Music in Jammu and Kashmir

Sufiana Kalam

This is probably the most notable form of music in Jammu and Kashmir. It is believed to have propagated here in 15th century.

Hafiz Nagma is the dance form based on Sufiana Kalam. It includes instruments like santoor, tabla, harmonium, saaz, and wasool.

It is the classical form of music for Kashmiri Pandits. They sing it mostly on the religious and festive occasions.

Musical Instruments in Jammu Kashmir

Santoor is the most significant musical instrument in the state. It is a hundred strings instrument which plays melodious tones. The famous Santoor players like Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Bhajan Sopori hail from this state. Other musical instruments commonly played here are Rabab, Dukra, Sitar, and Nagara. Surna and Daman are the musical instruments used in Ladakh region.

Musical Instruments of Jammu and Kashmir

Classical Music in Jammu and Kashmir

Classical music has age old relation with Kashmiri culture. Raagas, known as Muqams in Kashmiri music are inspired largely from Persian music. Main muqams common in the music of Jammu and Kashmir are Muqam Nawa, Muqam Singha, and Muqam Duga. This shows the impact of Iranian music over Kashmiri culture. However, Ladakh region is influenced by Tibetan music that includes Sanskrit and Tibetan chants.

Also Read: Music Classes in Jammu

Dances in Jammu and Kashmir

Dancing is another peculiar feature of culture in Jammu and Kashmir.

Let us first give you a brief synopsis of the folk music and dance of Jammu Kashmir before you go in depth with the words. We are sure you would love this video ...

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Dance rejuvenates the people and is the perfect expression of their festivities. Famous dance forms of Jammu and Kashmir are:


This is a spiritual dance performed in groups. It is aimed at pleasing the lok devtas. It is performed with instruments like chaina, drum, flute, and narsingha.


This form of dance is performed by women in Jammu Kashmir. It is theatrical dance mostly performed during the festival of Lohri.


It is a ballad dance from Jogi community. With music played on Rabab, dancers narrate a folk tale through their steps.

Dances of Jammu and Kashmir

Bhand Pather

This traditional dance of Kashmir valley is marked by the satirical style to demonstrate the evils of society and other social issues.

Bhand Jashan

This is the dance of festivities accompanied with gentle music. Kashmiri people perform this dance for their entertainment.

Hafiz Nagma

This dance form has one female dancer accompanied with instruments played by male artists. The dancer moves her feet on the musical notes played on sitar, santoor, tabla, and Kashmiri saaz.


This is the traditional dance form in which dancers perform aesthetically on sad songs. It is performed mostly on the occasions of Ramzan and Eid.

Mask Dance

This is the dance specifically related to Ladakh region. It is mostly performed in the monasteries of Ladakh. In this dance, dancers dress up like mythological figures with colorful masks. Hemis Festival is the best time to witness this dance form in Jammu Kashmir.

Also Read: Dance Classes in Jammu

Languages of Jammu and Kashmir

In Jammu and Kashmir, there is strong influence of Indo Aryan culture. This influence can be witnessed in its languages as well. Kashmiri is the official language of the state. It is based on Dardic which has Aryan origin. It constitutes of both Sanskrit and Persian. Many brilliant literary works have also been written in Kashmiri language. Urdu or English comes forth as second language in the state. Other languages in Jammu and Kashmir include Pushto, Ladakhi, Balti, Pahari, and Gojri.

Costumes in Jammu and Kashmir

Costumes in Jammu and Kashmir are inspired from the vibrancy of culture and warmth of people in the state. Rich fabrics with beautiful colors blending with their fine textures are integrally used in Kashmiri couture. Fine embroideries and weavings of state are also beautifully exhibited through these dresses. In Kashmir, pheran is the common dress for people. It is a long dress with buttons on the neck. It falls below knee length. It is worn by both men and women folk of state. It is accompanied by a loose pajama worn under it. Pheran is adorned by colorful floral motifs and intricate Kashmiri embroidery. A white stole also hangs from the shoulders of wearer.

Colorful Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir

Women also wear skullcaps with this dress. Muslim women have their skull caps decorated with red color fillet while for Hindu women white color is used in fillet. Head dress called Taranga is also worn by Hindus in the valley and Muslim women wear Kasaba as headdress. Kashmiri women also possess love for exquisite jewelry like earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and Dejharoo, which is a pair of gold pendants having gold string that passes through the holes in ear lobes.

In Ladakh, Gonchas are worn by men and Tsulmas by women. These are accompanied with lots of sparkling ornaments. Peraks of Turquoise are most common item of jewelry for Ladakhi women. People in this region also wear embroidered waistcoats, boots, and hats with their velvet gonchas.
However, with changing lifestyle, other ethnic ensembles from India like sarees, salwar kameez, and churidaar suits are also making their headway into costumes of J&K.

Handicrafts in Jammu and Kashmir

Along with its cultural diversity, Jammu and Kashmir boasts of varied art forms as well. Beautiful motifs and intricate hand works inspired from the natural and cultural beauty of state are depicted in its handicrafts.

Here's the perfect video for you, to showcase the handicrafts of Kashmir...

Source: Treasure Kashmir

These hand works flourished in this state through ages. Some of the arts were brought here by the foreign invaders from different parts of world. With passing of times, these arts developed and today, they are synonymous with culture of Jammu and Kashmir. Main handicrafts of Kashmir are:

Carpet Weaving

Kashmiri carpets are completely hand woven and knotted. They are woven with silk and wool threads with cotton base. This art came to Kashmir from Persia and their designing is still reminiscent of their origin.

Namdas Weaving

These are woolen and cotton floor rugs. They are beautifully adorned with floral designs made from chain stitch embroidery.

Shawl Making

Woolen, Shahtoosh, and Pashmina shawls from Jammu and Kashmir are admired worldwide for their ethnic beauty. Apart from their fabric, the work of embroidery over them also differentiates the prices of these shawls. They are decked with fine needlework marked by abstract designs and paisley motifs. Pashmina shawls are allured for their soft texture while Shahtoosh shawls are loved for their rarity.

Chain Stitch Work on Crewel Furnishings

This is a famous hand work originating from Jammu and Kashmir. Wall hangings, curtains, cushion covers, mats, and rugs are beautifully embroidered with chain stitch. Basically, it is done with multicolor threads over pre shrunk white cotton fabric.

Handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir


Due to high growth of willows in state, basketry is a popular handicraft of Jammu and Kashmir. Willow rushes are used for making beautiful baskets, lamp shades, pen holders, chairs, tables, et al.

Copperware and Silverware

In Jammu and Kashmir, copper and silver ware is integral part of lifestyle. Copper utensils are used in households. Many local artisans residing in by lanes of the state are engaged in manufacturing of samovars, plates, tumblers, bowls, etc. from these metals. They are beautified with floral, asymmetrical, calligraphic, and geometric motifs embossed on these utensils.

Papier Mache

This is a very intricate and popular art in Jammu and Kashmir. They are distinctive due to the bold and rich colors used in painting done over the objects made from paper mache. Gold color is predominantly used in their designing while their glossy surfaces are prepared by varnish.

Food of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is the paradise for food lovers as well. The state offers rich cuisines loved for their aromatic flavors and fine blend of spices. The food culture of state was highly influenced during 15th century when chefs from Samarkhand migrated to this region. They incorporated the famous Kashmiri Wazwan which still attracts foodies from all corners of world. Apart from this delectable 36 course meal, there are many other sumptuous meals that vary with regions in this state.

Cuisines of Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmiri Pandits have their unique style of cooking using curd, ginger, and asafoetida while Muslims mostly use onion, eggs, and garlic in their food. Staple food of the state is rice and many delicacies are prepared from it. Mutton is largely used in non vegan dishes. Phirni is the famous dessert here and there are many types of breads eaten by Kashmiris.

Kashmiri cuisine is also popularly known for its beverages like Sheer Chai and Kahwa. People of the state are heavy drinkers of these varieties of tea. However, Ladakh region of state is more inclined towards Tibetan cuisines due to its proximity to Tibetan culture.

Do not forget to read more about the, Food of Jammu Kashmir and Food of Srinagar.

Festivals in Jammu and Kashmir

The cultural diversity of Jammu and Kashmir is reflected beautifully in its festivals. These festivals are celebrated with unparalleled zeal and zest by the Kashmiri people. Who wouldn’t like to get enthralled with festivities of colorful mark festivals celebrated in Ladakh. From Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh to Muslim festivals, all are celebrated here with communal harmony. This makes Jammu and Kashmir, a special state in India. The prominent festivals of Jammu and Kashmir are:

Festivals in Jammu and Kashmir


Lohri is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm in Jammu region of the state. People dress up in colorful attires and dance to enjoy the celebrations.


It is also called as Herath by Kashmiri pundits. It is celebrated on thirteenth day of Phalguna month that falls in February-March. It is one day ahead of the celebrations done by other Hindus across the country. They perform tantric rituals involving day fasting to celebrate Herath. They feast on the next day when whole of the country is fasting on occasion of Shivratri.


This is a very ancient tradition followed by Kashmiri Pandits since ages. It falls on last day of dark fortnight in month of December - January, i.e. Pausha. On this festival, khichdi is offered as Prasad to Kubera along with chanting of naivedya mantras.

Jyestha Atham

It falls on eighth day of bright fortnight in Jyestha month in May-June. On this day, a huge festival is organized at Tula Mula for Goddess Kheer Bhawani. Devotees pray at the sacred spring with earthen lamps and chant mantras to praise goddess.


This festival marks the beginning of New Year for Kashmiri Pandits. It falls in Chaitra month, i.e. March April. On this day, things like rice, bread, yogurt, sugar candy, salt, almonds, silver coin, mirror, flowers, pen, and Panchang are put on a platter to be seen as first thing on the following morning.

Tiky Tsoram

This festival is celebrated by Tiku clan belonging to Kashmiri Pandits. Goddess Tripura Sundari is worshipped as per tantric rituals on this festival.

Gaad Bhaat

This festival literally means Fish and Rice. It involves offering sacrificial food prepared from fish being served to Ghar Devta, the Guardian of House.


It is one of the most significant festivals in the state. It is marked by nine days long festivities. Many people keep fast for these nine days and pray to goddess. People from all parts of country visit Maa Vaishno Devi shrine to celebrate this festival.

Celebrations in Jammu and Kashmir

Purmandel Mela

This fair is organized in February- March to celebrate the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. On this occasion, lots of devotees pay visit to holy temples of Peer Khoh, Ranbireshwar, and Panjbhaktar.

Chaitra Chaudasa Mela

It is held in Uttar Behni of Jammu region. This fair falls in the month of Chaitra and celebrated on 14th bright day of this month.

Eid ul Fitr

It marks the end of auspicious month of Ramadan. On this festival, Muslims dress up in beautiful attires and feast with lots of delicacies.

Urs Celebrations

Jammu and Kashmir is the land of sufis, who are enshrined at their pious dargahs. Every year, urs celebrations are held at these dargahs. They are attended by hordes of devotees and marked by sufi music.


It marks the beginning of harvest season. It is celebrated in some parts of Jammu region due to Punjabi influence over the people. Devotees take holy dip in holy springs. Kirtans and Langars are held in gurudwaras.

Hemis Festival

It is the most popular monastic festival celebrated in Ladakh region. It is celebrated in June-July in Hemis Monastery. It is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. Read More Here.

Monastaries of Ladakh

Phyang Festival

Every year, this festival is celebrated in Phyang Monastery of Ladakh. It is marked by display of traditional thangka.

Ladakh Harvest Festival

It is celebrated from 1st to 15th of September every year. Many festivities take place on the streets of Ladakh during these 15 days.

Tak Tok Festival

It is celebrated after Phyang Festival. It takes place for 10 days during summer season at Tak Tok Gompa in Ladakh.

Matho Nagrang Festival

It is celebrated at Matho Gompa. This monastery belonging to Sakya sect of Buddhism is flooded with tourists during this two-day long festival. Like any other Ladakhi festival, it is also known for colorful mask dances by the monks. Read More Here.

Saka Dawa Festival

It is the most auspicious festival for Buddhists in Ladakh valley. It is believed that on this full moon day itself, Lord Buddha was born and attained Nirvana. Lamas from all monasteries change the flag pole situated on Kilash Kora Mountain on this day. Read More Here.

Apart from these festivals, there are many other such celebrations taking place in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir all through the year. Along with other cultural heritages and traditions, they beautifully define the culture of this state. You may also like to read about Galdan Namchot Festival, Chemrey Angchok Festival, Karsha Gustor Festival, Ladakh Festival, Losar Festival, Thiksey Gustor Festival, Yargon Tungshak Festival, Yuru Kabgyat Festival, Jammu Festival, and Winter Carnival in Jammu.

You will also love the in-depth cultural facts of different cities of J&K. So, start reading from the links below...
Also Read: Fairs and Festivals in Leh | Culture of Leh | Culture of Anantnag | Culture of Jammu | Fairs in Jammu | Festivals in Jammu

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