Besides having a rich reservoir of minerals, the state of Chhattisgarh is also characterized by an equally rich culture and heritage, which is manifested by its tribal population. The tribals of this state have their distinctive languages, cuisines, music, dance and lifestyle.
The main languages spoken in Chhattisgarh are Chhattisgarhi and Hindi. Chhattisgarhi has emerged from Indo-Aryan languages and is widely used in the state. It has more than 11.5 million speakers. Indian government regards it as an eastern dialect of Hindi, but according to the linguists, the language is quite different from Hindi. Chhattisgarhi is said to have evolved from the Indo-European dialects and has characteristic linguistic features of the Munda (Austro-Asiatic languages) and Dravidian languages. The myriad dialects of Chhattisgarhi encompass all these three linguistic families. Chhattisgarhi and its dialects influence the culture of Chhattisgarh to a great extent.
All dialects of Chhattisgarhi use the Devanagari script. Indo-European language family, the Dravidian language family and the Munda language family are predominant in the state. The Indo-European dialects are in wide use in the central portion of the state and the Dravidian dialects are spoken in the southern part of the state. All three dialects are in use in the northern part of Chhattisgarh.
Music is an integral component of the culture of Chhattisgarh. Pathoni, sohar and bihav are some of the popular forms of songs in Chhattisgarh. Pathoni songs are usually sung in gouna, which marks the departure of the bride to the bridegroom’s place, whereas Sohar songs are related to child birth. Similarly, the Bihavi songs are sung in all marital celebrations. Main portions of the Vihavi songs include Nahdouri, Telmati, Maymouri, Chulmati, Parghani, Bhadoni and others. They are all related to Vidai.
Like music, dance forms an important part of the Chhattisgarhi life. Panthi, Soowa and Rauth Nach (a folk dance of the cowherds) are the popular dance styles of this state. A musical narration of the Mahabharata known as ‘Pandhwani’ is quite popular in the state. Folk theatre is popular too. The comical plays here are quite interesting.
The state of Chhattisgarh is infused with spectacular colours. Colors are exhibited in every aspect of the lifestyle here. The people here wear colorful attires. Previously some women in the rural areas here would wear garlands made of one rupee coins. But now this trend is dying down. However, the people of Chhattisgarh have a tendency to adopt new trends and lifestyles.
Beautifully and skillfully decorated artifacts made from bamboos, jute, clay wood, mud, etc. are famous here. These exquisite handicrafts can act as wonderful mementos for the tourists.