Culture

  • October 17, 2016
  • Les Routes Insolites

The culture of India is one of the oldest and unique. In India, there is amazing cultural diversity throughout the country. The South, North, and Northeast have their own distinct cultures and almost every state has carved out its own cultural niche. There is hardly any culture in the world that is as varied and unique as India. India is a vast country, having variety of geographical features and climatic conditions. India is home to some of the most ancient civilizations, including four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Western societies did not always see the culture of India very favorably, Early anthropologists once considered culture as an evolutionary process, and ”every aspect of human development was seen as driven by evolution,” she told Live Science. “In this view, societies outside of Europe or North America, or societies that did not follow the European or Western way of life, were considered primitive and culturally inferior.  Essentially this included all the colonized countries and people, such as African countries, India, and the Far East.”.

However, Indians made significant advances in architecture (Taj Mahal), mathematics (the invention of zero and medicine (Ayurveda). Today, India is a very diverse country, with more than 1.2 billion people, making it the second most populous nation after China. Different regions have their own distinct cultures. Language, religion, food and the arts are just some of the various aspects of Indian culture. Here is a brief overview of the culture of India.

Language

India has 28 states and seven territories, There is no official language in India, many people living in India also write in Devanagari script. In fact, it is a misconception that the majority of people in India speak Hindi. Though many people speak Hindi in India, 59 percent of India residents speak something other than Hindi. Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu are some other languages spoken in the country.

Religion

India is identified as the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, the third and fourth largest religions. About 84 percent of the population identifies as Hindu. There are many variations of Hinduism, and four predominant sects — Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakteya and Smarta.

About 13 percent of Indians are Muslim, making it one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. Christians and Sikhs make up a small percentage of the population, and there are even fewer Buddhists and Jains, according to the “Handbook.”

Food

When the Moghul Empire invaded during the sixteenth century, they left a significant mark on the Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine is also influenced by many other countries. It is known for its large assortment of dishes and its liberal use of herbs and spices. Cooking styles vary from region to region.

Wheat, Basmati rice and pulses with chana (Bengal gram) are important staples of the Indian diet. The food is rich with curries and spices, including ginger, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, dried hot peppers, and cinnamon, among others. Chutneys — thick condiments and spreads made from assorted fruits and vegetables such as tamarind and tomatoes and mint, cilantro and other herbs — are used generously in Indian cooking. Many Hindus are vegetarians, but lamb and chicken are common in main dishes for non-vegetarians.

Much of Indian food is eaten with fingers or bread used as utensils. There is a wide array of breads served with meals, including naan, a leavened, oven-baked flatbread, and bhatoora, a fried, fluffy flatbread common in North India and eaten with chickpea curry.

Music
Indians always believed in the divine association of the music. In India mainly two school of classical style can be found one is north Indian Hindustani style one is south Indian Carnatic style of singing. Like dance, music has a rich and robust folk tradition and music is inextricably woven into the fabric of rural India. Contemporary music of India includes even jazz. Pop, rock.

Film
Popular cinema is how much popular can be understand with this small fact that over 900 films are made and released in India annually. In a country where cine stars get similar treatments like god nobody simply deny that popular cinema is very much an integral part of the Indian society, as we all know cinema is the mirror of the society.

Dance
The history of Indian traditional dance which traces its origin back in 2 BC is as colorful as it can be possible. Classical, folk and contemporary,all dance items are preformed here in India. Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohini Attam are the few leading forms of classical dance. Kathak the main dance form in North India comes form the Islamic invasion though in the later years it evolved into the Hindu gharanas like Banaras gharana , Jaipur gharna. Maximum classical dancing originated from the religious feelings . But in addition to these classical dancing there are numerous forms of folk tribal dance which can be found in India.

Architecture and art

The most well-known example of Indian architecture is the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to honor his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. India also has many ancient temples.

India is well known for its film industry, which is often referred to as Bollywood. The country’s movie history began in 1896 when the Lumière brothers demonstrated the art of cinema in Mumbai, the films are known for their elaborate singing and dancing.

The major classical dance traditions — Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Kathakali — draw on themes from mythology and literature and have rigid presentation rules.

Clothing

India is a land of color and diverse cultures, so evident in the varied dresses that grace its people. Indian traditional way of dressing is marked by variations, both religious and regional with a wide choice of textures and styles. Simple Sari is draped by the Indian girls of different region in different style. Traditional dress for Rajasthani and Gujarati girls are colorful Ghagra choli. South Indian girls Wear half sari with duppatta. Churidar kurta is worn by the north Indian girls but now a days quite popular with the young generation as well. Western dressing style is gaining its popularity amongst the urban youth.

Customs and celebrations

The country celebrates Republic Day (Jan. 26), Independence Day (Aug. 15) and Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (Oct. 2). Diwali is the largest and most important holiday to India, It is a five-day festival known as the festival of lights because of the lights lit during the celebration to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness. Holi, the festival of colors, also called the festival of love, is popular in the spring.