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Ethnic Groups

The most northern part of India is a region called Jammu and Kashmir. It is generally called Kashmir or J&K for short. In 1947 when the British gave up ruling India, they divided it up to become independent nations of India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh). The official language of Jammu and Kashmir is Urdu, which is similar to Hindi. However the local language is Kashmiri, and other local languages of the ethnic groups is spoken as well.
 
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu in the subtropical foothills of the Himalayas; the Kashmir valley, a luxuriant and beautiful region between the Pir Panjal and higher Himalayas; and the sparsely populated Ladakh, a cold desert of high mountain passes and deep gorges  that keep it remote.
 
Several ethnic groups live in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the main ones being the Kashmiris, who are mostly Muslim; the Dogras, who are mostly Hindu; Ladakh Tibetans, who are mostly Buddhist, but many are Muslims; and the Hindko, who are mostly Muslim. There are so many Muslims in total that the territory is considered to be Muslim.
 
High, snowy mountain ranges, beautiful green valleys, deep blue mountain lakes and sparkling rivers, thick forests and picturesque formal gardens and waterfalls make Kashmir one the most beautiful of places in the world.  While the Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountain scenery, Jammu is famous for its many shrines that attract  tens of thousands of Hindu visitors each year. Ladakh is famous for its remoteness, the harsh beauty of its mountains and its Buddhist culture that causes it to be referred to as ‘Little Tibet’.
 
Traditional clothing for Kashmiri men is usually pants called churidar or looser pants called salwar. Over this a loose woollen tunic called a pheran is worn. It is loose so that in winter people can put under it a thick padded bag containing hot coals to keep warm. Headdress is often a turban, karakuli cap or skull cap. Pashmina belts are common also. Coats are fleece or wool. Kashmiri women wear heavily embroidered pheran tunics. Some Muslim women wear longer tunics with narrow sleeves. 
 
Hindu women wear a headdress called taranga, which is a wide scarf attached to a cap. There are other headdresses also, depending on whether or not she is married, and more decorated headdresses for festivals or weddings. There are variations of these garments worn by some of the smaller ethnic groups of the region.