What is Purvanchal?
Purvanchal….as we know, is “a geographical region of the eastern end part of Uttar Pradesh” that includes Azamgarh, Basti, Chitrakoot, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Mirzapur, Prayagraj/Allahabad and Varanasi divisions and entire Awadh region including Lucknow and RaeBareli. However, the rationale behind calling it a different anchal/region is more of culture/way of living, which is being followed by the people of that region, not the geography.
Purvanchal is among the most ancient regions of India. It enjoys a rich heritage and culture, particularly because of its association with some historical places. In popular terms, Purvanchal is well known as ‘The land of warriors’. All three prominent Indian religions; Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are considered to be originate in this region only.
The region of Purvanchal had a long tradition of learning. Sanskrit based education during Vedic to Gupta periods coupled later with Pali and a vast heritage of ancient to medieval learning in Persian and Arabic languages made this region a hub of Hindu-Buddhist-Muslim education. Purvanchal Universities and academic institutions (such as BHU, Allahabad University, DDU Gorakhpur, Kashi Vidyapeeth, Ram Manohar Lohiya Awadh University, Lucknow University, Shibli College etc.) have played a very significant role in building up of modern independent India.
One of the main features of Purvanchal’s culture is a tradition of folk-songs and folk-dances. Starting from Dhobiya, Kaharwa, Aalha, Pawanriya, Videshiya, Birha, Chanaini, Swang and Chaiti to Kisan ka Naach, Launda Ka Naach and different types of Nautanka/Street Plays, Purvanchal has many rich folk arts to showcase and take pride of. Interestingly, these songs and dances are dedicated to some season or festival i.e. kaharwa at Deepawali, Alha, Kajri and Barahmasi during the rainy and winter nights, and the Phaag during Holi and Chaiti post Holi.
Besides, Banarasi Sari, Bhadohi’s Carpets and Nizambad’s pottery are considered to be the finest artistry products of India. Purvanchal has also preserved some of the folk arts of singing and dancing that typically represents its ethnic cultural identity and these are Birha, Aalhas, Nautanki in Bhojpuri, Khadi Boli and Awadhi.
Purvanchal is also known for its distinct flavour and taste in food items. Pakoda, Jalebi, Imarti, Pua, Gulgula, Khurma, Ghaati, Rikwach, Bati Chokha, Phara, Ulta Pulta, Taadi, Sattu ki Poori & Pratha, Gud Ki Kheer, Rasawal, Sewenyan, Daal Ka Dulha, Different type of Khichdi, Mutter Ka Namoona, Banarasi Paan etc. are some of the mouth watering delicacies of Purvanchal.
The Ganga-Jamuni Culture, which people always talk about, is actually originated from here and (thanks to the blessings of Ganga Ji & Yamuna Ji) this culture still prevails in brotherly living in all good and bad times and keeping alive all folk traditions of artistry, food and culture.