India is a country that has a long-drawn history and an exceptional diversity, but there is much more to what makes India; it is the Indian culture. The Indian culture is manifold and is a very interesting topic to discuss and know about.
The beauty of the Indian culture is that it contains several other cultures within. This is because India has several people from different social and cultural backgrounds. Today, let us tour India and the various aspects of Indian cultures within the country.
When we meet someone, the first thing that we do is to greet them. Hence, greetings form an important part of Indian culture. People who are concerned with official purposes generally greet with a “hello” but, there is much more to the greetings section. Let us see some of the most famous greetings of Indian culture.
Namaste is the most common Indian greeting where the person presses his or her hands together, bows down, and says namaste. It is a way of showing respect to the person in front of you. However, this is not the only way people greet each other; the people who reside in the south say “welcome “to greet people, and many cultures in India even greet by saying “salam walk.” Thus, the greetings of various cultures make Indian culture.
The geography of India greatly favors Indian culture. India has a diverse geography with mountainous regions, fertile plains, and seas, oceans, rivers, along with deserts and marshes. The geography of the Indian subcontinent is what helps the diverse Indian culture to flourish continuously.
In the North are located the great Himalayan range of mountains. These mountains are so huge that these can further be divided into three parts, namely, Himadri, commonly called the greater Himalayas, Himanchal, also known as the lesser Himalayas, and the Shivalik or the outer Himalayas.
When we go a little upwards from the state of Himachal Pradesh, which is located in the North, we can see the beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir. This place is so beautiful that people often call it “heaven on earth.”
In the south lies the city of Kanyakumari that is a beautiful coastal town. When we move towards the East, we can spot the seven sisters, the places that experience sunrise earlier than most of the other states, and in the west lies the desert of kutchch, which is filled with white sand. Many tourists misunderstand this white-colored sand as salt.
India shares its boundaries with seven countries and also has the Maldives and Sri Lanka as its neighbors. It has 28 states and eight union territories. The geography of India also makes people live in various conditions and habitats. This variation in habitats favors the growth of different types of animals and birds and, most importantly, gives rise to a variety of lifestyles.
One of the most important parts of Indian culture is the language that Indians speak. A plus point about the language of India is that there is no single language that defines the Indian culture; there are several languages spoken all over the country.
The best thing about the country is that its division completely supports the growth of Indian languages. Moreover, India does not have an official language, and hence, people are free to speak in whatever language they want to speak in.
Each state in India has its own language. However, the people who migrate from one state to another have the freedom to communicate in their language. For instance, when we look at the state of Maharashtra in India, people mostly communicate in Marathi at home or often for official purposes as well. Nonetheless, when a Gujarati migrates to Maharashtra, he or she can communicate in his or her language.
The divisions in India were created right after its independence. The leaders were worried that this type of division would cause damage as people would not want to interact with each other. However, it turned out to be the other way round, and these divisions gave rise to new languages.
Some of the most spoken languages in India include Hindi, Bengali, and Marathi. Other than these three languages, there are around 19,500 mother tongues in the country, and some of the languages have developed from the already existing ones. Even though English cannot be called an Indian language, it is adopted by some parts of the country and is used widely in the country for official purposes.
4. Variety of Religions
India is one of the countries that is famous for its diversity is religions. Religions are extremely important aspects as it is because of this variety in religions that people vary in several other aspects.
Hinduism is the most wide-spread religion in India, and around 79% of people in India belong to this religion. It is the third-largest religion in the world and believes in the theory of self-realization or moksha. The second most wide-spread religion in India is Islam. The people who follow the rules of Islam are known as Muslims and believe in worshipping only one God, Allah. They also believe in worshipping God alone and not idols of God.
Christianity is the next religion that is spread far and wide and is greatly influenced by the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Other than these three religions, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and several other religions exist in India.
Every religion has its own culture, and every culture makes the Indian culture. We must try to evaluate the teachings of these religions and apply their positive points in our lives.
India, as a country, is often referred to as “the land of festivals,” and hence, festivals hold great significance in the country. Like there are several languages that are spoken in different parts of the country, there are a number of festivals celebrated by people all over India throughout the year.
The year begins with some famous festivals, namely, Hampi, Lohri, Pongal, and makar sakranti [kite festival]. In the next two months, people witness the festival of colors commonly known as holi. People play with water and colors. It is one of the most enjoyable festivals in India. Alongside holi, there are some other festivals like Mahavir Jayanti, Gudi padwa, and Ugadi celebrated.
When we move to the month of April, we can see a large population of the country celebrating Easter, Baisakhi, and Bihu. Some of the famous festivals in the next three months are buddha Jayanti, Eid ul Fitr, the Teej festival, and hemis. Buddha Jayanti is a famous Buddhist festival that is celebrated to commemorate the birth of king Siddhartha, who was later called Gautam Buddha.
Some of the Muslim festivals that are an important part of the Indian culture include eid ul Fitr, Moharram, Bakri Eid, and id-ul Juha. The last 3-4 months mark the celebration of some of the most celebrated Hindu festivals including, Navaratri, Durga pooja [famous in the state of West Bengal], Ganesh Chaturthi [Maharashtrian festival], and Diwali, also known as the festival of lights.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a famous festival which is very famous in Maharashtra. People celebrate the homecoming of Lord Ganesha every year with music and dance. Diwali is the festival of lights. On the day of Diwali, every house has candles and diyas lighted, which is followed by bursting crackers and distribution of sweets.
Eater is a Christian festival celebrated in the month of April. Christmas is another widely celebrated Christian festival in the country. Other than these festivals, there are a few important dates like the 15th and 26th of January, which are celebrated in order to remember the great struggle for freedom and as a respect to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives to protect the people of the country. These festivals are patriotic festivals.
6. The Great Indian Wedding
Indian weddings can be called an Indian festival. However, the description of an Indian wedding contains so much information that it cannot be included in the section that talks about various festivals. It is said that when people get married in India, their families get married as well. Weddings in India are an essential component of Indian culture.
An Indian marriage takes up more than a week’s time and is fun for most people. The members who are attending the marriage wear beautiful, new clothes. There is a huge variety of food options and several rituals that are performed.
Besides, any modern Indian wedding would include music and dance for the sangeet ceremony. These rituals may vary from family to family and from religion to religion. The people in the North are generally seen celebrating this occasion with loud music, whereas the people who live in the South prefer a more peaceful wedding.
7. Traditional Clothing
Clothing is another important part of Indian culture. In fact, Indian clothing changes every time there is a new festival. People here love shopping and buy new clothes for various occasions and festivals.
The traditional Indian clothing completely depends upon which part of the country the person belongs to. Lehenga is one of the most common traditional clothing of Indian culture. Gujaratis wear chanaya-choli, which is a top with a long, shiny skirt during the festival of Navaratri. In fact, Indians change their clothing on the basis of the occasion too!
Sarees are very popular among Indian women, and Indian men are seen in kurtas and pajamas on several occasions. The most surprising part about sarees is that the type of saree differs from one region to another. Some of the posh Indian sarees include Benaresi saree from Uttar Pradesh, kanjeevaram silk saree from Tamil Nadu, kasavu from Kerala, paithani silk from Maharashtra, Muga silk from Assam, leheriya from Rajasthan, and a number of other sarees from different states. These sarees can be found in a wide range of colors and designs. Many of the designers of sarees in India are local designers who have knowledge about the ancient designs and Indian culture.
Clothing without matching jewelry will look dull. Thus, the next important aspect of Indian culture is the jewelry that people wear all over the country. The jewelry mostly depends on the type of clothing that the person is wearing. Indians are very fond of wearing gold and silver jewelry. Along with this, they even wear jewelry that has certain pearls on it.
The delicious Indian food is another unforgettable part of the Indian culture. The food holds special importance on every occasion, may it be a wedding or any other festival. The best part is that food varies throughout the country. Food is probably the most important and the most loved part of Indian culture. It consists of a variety of regional cuisines.
When we talk about the main course, sarso da saag and make di roti is extremely famous in Punjab. Dhokla, fafda-jalebi from Gujarat are a few of the tastiest Indian dishes. The thalis in Rajasthan served with Kadhi, and kothumbirvadi along with missal-pav from Maharashtra are famous meals that will make you full. Biryani is another famous food item that is eaten all over India. During Eid, people especially keep Biryani parties and enjoy the food.
In the southern regions of India, idli-sambhar, dosa, rice, and Pongal are incredibly famous. The people in Kerala live in a greener environment as compared to many parts of India. Thus, the people here have innovated their own coconut drinks and milkshakes, which make you feel refreshed after touring the state.
After the main course, the desert is very important for Indians. Khaja from orrisa and rasgulla from west Bengal are famous, mouth-watering desserts. To be specific, west Bengal is known for the variety of sweets that it offers. Other than these sweets, malai, jalebi with rabdi, barfis, pedhe, ras-malai, and Gulab jamun are some famous deserts that people in India enjoy.
10. Dance Styles
The Indian dance styles add beauty to the Indian culture. There are many dance styles performed by Indians in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Dance is something that Indians are very fond of and hence is the next thing that makes Indian culture.
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest forms of classical dances in India that is said to have flourished from Tamil Nadu. This dance is believed to be the dance of lord shiva. It contains extreme emotions and portrayal of different moods through moves and expressions.
Kathak is another remarkable dance style that has flourished in India. Today several people love learning and performing this beautiful dance style. It has developed from the old courts of kings. It is said that this dance style belongs to the women who used to perform for the kings in the huge courts.
India also has some amazing dance styles that are based completely on the state that one belongs to. Garba from Gujarat, Bihu from Assam, lavni from Maharashtra, Odissi from Odisha, and Manipuri from Manipur are some of the dance forms that have evolved and flourished in their respective states.
11. The Music of India
The fantastic variety of music in India is surprising. Indian music holds great significance in Indian culture and is loved by many.
Indian music consists of a variety of genres. Classical music is known as the base of music and hence is an essential genre of music. Several kids today learn Indian music throughout India in order to improve their voice quality.
Other than classical music, Indian culture contains a great deal of folk music [just like folk dances]. Along with this, a new form of music known as Bollywood music has grown over time, and it contains several movie songs. Some of the old songs are also referred to as retro songs and are loved by people not only in India but also in other parts of the world.
12. Myths and Legends
India is a land that belongs to several stories and legends that are mostly based on myths and beliefs. These stories generally are created and passed on to the younger generations because they teach moral values. Every religion in India has its own stories.
From the teachings of prophet Mohammad to the stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana, from the life of Siddhartha to Gautam buddha to the rise of Jesus Christ from the dead are all important parts of the Indian culture. These stories might be true to a certain extent but can never be taken literally. However, these legends, myths, and stories from different religions ultimately aim at creating a better society and people.
13. The Popular Indian History
Indian history has a very long drawn process and includes several revolutions, revolts, and people. The Indian history forms an important part of the Indian culture because it has made India what it is today. There are several kings and queens and the stories that we study today. From the earliest dynasties like the Chola dynasty to the time of the Mughals, all the kings have made several changes to the society and its structure that has changed Indian culture from time to time.
The struggle for Indian independence and the time that India was ruled by the British also holds great importance in Indian history. From the day that the country was called Bharat to this day, everything that has changed has influenced India and its culture.
14. Heritage and Architecture
Indian architecture is an important part of Indian culture. Just like Indian history, Indian architecture has been influenced by several people and religions. Architecture develops through the history of a country. When we visit the southern states in India, we can find pieces of great architecture that belong to the oldest dynasties that ruled India, namely, Chalukyas, Cholas, and Mauryan.
In the northern portion, we find various designs that mostly belong to the Mughals because the Mughals had established their rule and were most dominant in Delhi. The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous monuments built by Shah Jahan for his beloved Mumtaz. Further, when we go towards states like Maharashtra, the architecture here shows the legacy of Maratha rulers like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Rani Lakshmibai, who fought vigorously for the country.
One of the most significant places that come to our mind while thinking about Indian architecture in Rajasthan. There were several rulers that ruled this land. This land has one of the most well-known histories and has gone through several revolts and fights over the years. There are amazing, huge forts and palaces that are built here, and the designs and architecture are remarkable.
15. Superstitions and Beliefs
Blind beliefs and superstitions are so entrenched in the Indian society that they have become a part of the Indian culture. I strongly believe that most of these superstitions are illogical and cannot really be proven. These beliefs basically grew because elders in ancient times wanted to scare their kids about something.
For instance,” if you cut nails at night, you will have an encounter with a ghost.” This story was originally built-up because parents did not want their kids to hurt themselves while cutting their nails in the evening as there were no light sources available during those times. However, this belief went on to be followed by generations and became a deeply rooted part of the Indian society.
16. The World of Indian Science and Mathematics
People believe that science and mathematics are a recent development in India. I strongly disagree with this belief as Indian science and technology are so old that it is an important part of the Indian culture.
It was in the third century BC that science and mathematics had started developing in India. Several archaeologists have found epigraphic pieces of evidence related to the decimal system in India from the fifth century. The Indian notational system in those days was adopted by Arabs and later spread throughout the world. Aryabhata invented zero [second century BC], and this played a significant growth in the development of mathematics.
Aryabhata further went on to build a system to calculate the area of a triangle, which later gave rise to trigonometry. Aryabhata also found the positions of planets through the Babylonia method and discovered the causes of solar and lunar eclipses.
Astronomy is the study of celestial bodies and is an important part of the Indian culture. Astronomy started developing in India during the times of Indus valley civilization or even earlier. The studies of the Vedas were extremely important for astronomy. Ancient India had four Vedas that played a significant role in the development of astronomy in the country.
18. The Evolution of Sports in India
Sports have always been an essential component of Indian culture. Some of the famous sports have developed in this country. Chess, initially known as ashtpada, originated in India and was played in the courts of kings. It was one of the elite games of ancient India and was enjoyed by kings. There is evidence of chess competitions found in monuments that are concerned with kings and queens.
Besides, ludo, kho-kho, polo, badminton, and kabbadi are a few games that are of Indian origin. These games have spread far and wide today.
In 1913, Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore became India’s first Nobel laureate in literature. Literature has a significant role to play in the history of the country. It helped people remember the events of history and read some fantastic books. Indian literature generally means the literature that developed till 1947 in India.
20. The Spirit of Nationalism
Nationalism is probably the most critical part of Indian culture. India, as a country, has been a part of around 200 years of British oppression. After India got its independence, it was followed by a number of events. The most important event was the making of the Indian constitution in a way that gave basic rights to all citizens of the country and the formation of the Indian army for the protection of the citizens of the country.
Today, there are several fronts where the country needs to improve; there have been long debates and discussions on how the country should be ruled. There is also a difference of opinion in the people of India, but when it comes to the country, all Indians stand together in order to protect their country. This is how the spirit of nationalism forms an important part of the Indian culture.