Culture of MathuraMathura is the seat of the Mathura School of Art, distinctive architecture and sculpture traditions since the first century itself. The culture of music and dance contributed to the built heritage of the city and augmented its beauty and serene connectivity with Lord Krishna. The culture of Mathura is a unique aspect of the holy city. Pilgrims and tourists alike visit the holy birthplace of Lord Krishna.
There are a number of descriptions regarding what comprises the culture of a place. In the case of the holy city of Mathura the culture of the city is a sum total of all its significant aspects like the architecture, the art forms, the dances and the songs as well as the clothing and cuisine of the people who dwell there. Thus, the culture of Mathura is the picture presented by the composite whole of the city. Any person coming to Mathura sees and imbibes the pure dialects of the ‘Brajwasis’ or dwellers of Braj and the sweet incantations of the chants of ‘Radhey radhey’ all across the holy city. There are a number of people who would say that the culture of the Mathura dwellers is a part of the very earth of Braj and thus, anyone who smears even a small part of this holy mud on his or her forehead would be formally ordained into the deep rooted culture of the region.
The Mathura dweller is deeply involved with the activities that revolve around the life and times of Lord Krishna and if there are any festivities and celebrations underfoot then all more better because what could be a better way to understand the culture of a place than to become a part of it. To imbue oneself with the richness of that culture and to thrive in it till literally it comes out of every pore. The songs that form the very soul of the streets and temples of Mathura are the folk songs sung ages ago by the ‘gopis’ during the ‘Raas Lila’ or devotional dance with the Lord.
Dance in Mathura
The songs are impassioned pleas to the Lord to dwell forever in the hearts of the singers to never leave them. Then there are the several forms of dances among which the Raas Lila is the most famous. These dances are performed by several of the young groups of boys and girls. The boys are almost all of the same age group. However, great care is taken in selecting and training and finally allowing the boys of the team to participate in the Raas Lila performances. Care is taken to ensure that none of the boys participating in the Raas are more than fourteen years of age.
Among the dances besides the Raas Lila the Charkula is a famous form of dancing that is renowned in Mathura. The dance form is typical of the region and entails the carrying of several lighted lamps on the head. One of the girls ties a lantern having fifty one to a hundred and eight diyas arranged in several tiers onto her head. She has ample practices in this form of dance because once the tempo builds up to a crescendo the dance picks up speed until the girl is whirling around on her feet across the performance stage in circles keeping her headgear intact. This is an amazing feat as several girls together perform this dance. The Charkula is performed on the second day after the Holi festival or the festival of colours.
Dialects in Mathura
Brajbhasha or ‘khadi boli’ is a language straight from the heart. The sweet lilting notes of the language are simple and yet full of meaning. Lord Krishna endorsed the language and it was for a long time the officially known language of government as well. These days due to a large influx of tourists and the necessities of business enterprise the people of Mathura speak a number of languages ranging from Braj to English.
The Sanjhee is the art of decorating a pathway with colourful flowers and petals. This art form has risen to great heights in Mathura where most festivities are marked with the temple foregrounds, the courtyards and even the streets of Mathura being adorned with these colorful forms of intricate designs laid out in various sites all over the city.
Thus the culture of the people of Mathura and the overall culture of Mathura ranges from their frock like shirts worn by the men along with their dhotis while the women wear saris and ghagra cholis till today.
Mathura is the repository of the Mathura School of Art as also all that can be considered as the culture of the land.