The main population of Nainital follow Kumaoni Traditions and cultures; however 8% constitutes of people following the Hindu religion while the rests constitutes of Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and other religions.
Kumaoni Art and Design is famous for its splashes of colour and intricate skill work. The Rangwali Design is an ancient old tradition of dyeing a muslin cloth measuring 3 mts long and 1½ mts wide with bright yellow colour and imprinting designs of a Swastik in the centre and surrounded with a pattern of Sun, Moon, Conch Shell and Bells. This attire is known as a 'Pichora' imprinted on 'Aanchal cloths'.
Aipan is a traditional style of local painting seen mainly during festive seasons. The Kumaoni women decorate their homes, walls and floors with beautiful Tantrik patterns of Gods and Goddesses known as 'Yantra' or 'Peeth' which is a geometrical representation of the local deities using Rice Paste mixed with Ochre. The Aipan Art on a wooden chauki [a low stool or small table] has a Sun, Moon, Bells and many others, the Dhuliargh Chauki has a picture of a water jar symbolising the beginning of Universe and the Janeu [Sacrificial thread of Hindus] depict zodiacal sign of a great bear arranged in hexagonal shapes that is believed to evoke the Sapta-Rishis' blessing.
Nainital offers a mixed bag of culture and religion owing to many tribal and local inhabitants diversified by immigrants from other places. The language, dialects, folklores, mythology, festivals and the entire gamut of such things influences the culture and traditions of this town.
Every part of this Kumaoni region exhibits folklores and legends of Gods and Goddesses connected with the Shakta, Shaiva and Vaishnava reign and their tradition. As per Atkinson, British personnel, there are 250 Shaiva Temples and 35 Vaishnava Temples out of which 64 Shaiva Temples and 8 Vaishnava Temples are devoted to 'Shakti' or 'the female form'. The Shakta Temples are located in Almora, Nainital, Gangolihat, Pumagiri, Kot-Ki-Mai and Kotgari Devi.
The local Gods worshipped here are Naina Devi [Goddess Parvati], Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi [Believed to be King Rajah Hemant Chand's daughters who were incarnations of Mother Goddess. Another version is that Nanda Devi is a Greek Goddess named 'Nana'], Bholanath [An incarnation of Lord Shiva and son of Udai Chand King who killed him, his wife and unborn child, now worshipped as Ghosts by the locals in Champawat], Kail Bisht [Folk God named 'Kallu', who had the impression of trishul on his forehead and Katamb Flower on his feet], Haru [A King of Chamapwat named 'Harish Chandra', worshipped as God by the locals], Churmal, Gwalla Devta in Chitai, Champawat and Ghorakhal, Gangnath [son of Vaibhav Chand King of Doti, West Nepal, who was murdered by a blacksmith as ordered by Bhana's father/husband for falling in love with Bhana, both are worshipped by entire kumaon so that they do not harm them or their family], Airy [Local Shanni God with eyes on his head], Saim and Chaumu [Protector of Animals]. The Temples here are devoted to nine Goddesses and Lord Shiva Temples are established at Binsar, Bageshwar, Baijnath, Gangnath, Pancheshwar, Rameshwar and Thalkedar.
Jaggar is a form of Ghost and Spiritual worship coupled with a folk song and a traditional dance that consists of over 50 ballads dedicated to Gods, Goddesses, Spirits, Ghosts, Gangnath, Bholanath and Gorilla. The date of worship is fixed by the Chief Priest of the town which includes a huge fire pit burnt with hot coal and wood around which the locals sit and a soft drumming and singing that gradually increases in volume along with fits of shouts, high jumps and pounding of their feet, tearing off clothes, poking their mouths with hot fire pokers and touching the hot fiery burning coal in their state of trance surprisingly without being harmed or hurt which is the form of evoking spirits to appease them so that they bless the people and the entire Kumaon region. Locals present these spirits with a sacrificial Goat or a large Bird to please them and the ceremony ends when the maddening activities and spell breaks which concludes with the spirits going back to their abode amidst the Himalayas.