The Indian Culture

Indian Culture and traditions are something which has now become renowned all across the world.  We all refer to India and its culture as something very diverse and unique. But seldom do we give a thought to why things are done in certain specific ways. 



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. 

Always a Festive Season


India also sees a large number of festivals, mainly because of the prevalence of diverse religions and groups. The Muslims celebrate Eid, the Christians have Christmas, good Friday and so on, the Sikhs have Baisakhi (harvesting of crop), and the birthdays of their Gurus and the Hindus have Diwali, Holi, Makar Sakranti, the Jains have Mahavir Jayanti, the Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s birthday on Buddha Poornima, and quite honestly, the number is endless. All of these translate to holidays in our book, of course.

The Namaste


The namaste is one of the most popular Indian customs and isn’t really just restricted to the Indian territory anymore. You have Barack Obama, who has been seen doing it on various occasions, or you had Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, greeting everyone with a namaste at the Times’ Square in New York on the first International Yoga Day. But, what’s the significance? The Namaste, or ‘namaskar’, or ‘namaskaara’ is one of the five forms of traditional greetings mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. It literally translates to “I bow to you”, and greeting one another with it is a way of saying “May our minds meet”, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The word ‘namaha’ can also be translated as ‘na ma’ (not mine), to signify the reductions of one’s ego in the presence of the other.

Arranged Mariage System


The concept of arranged marriage in India traces its origin to as early as the Vedic times. For royal families, a ceremony known as the ‘Swayambar’ would be arranged for the bride. Suitable matches from all over the kingdom were invited to either compete in some competition to win over the bride, or the bride would herself choose her ideal husband. Even today, the concept of arranged marriage remains a favourite among Indians.

Fasting


Fasting is an integral part of Hindu culture. Fasts or Vrats or Upvas are a way to represent your sincerity and resolve, or express your gratitude to the Gods and Goddesses.  People throughout the country observe fasts during various religious occasions. Some people also observe fast on different days of a week in favour of a particular God or Goddess associated with that particular day. It is widely believed that by doing so, you are depriving your body of a basic necessity and thus,   punishing yourself to cleanse off the sins that you have committed until the day of fast. The rules and regulations of a fast are in accordance with the particular occasion. The origin of fast probably comes from the  Vedic ritual of kindling the sacrificial fire for sacrifice purposes. Since the word ‘upvas’ has been used for denoting both fasts and kindling sacrificial fire, it can be thought that people observed fasts when they had to kindle or rekindle the domestic fires kept in their homes to perform daily sacrifices.

Science Behind Temples


Most temples are located along magnetic wave lines of the earth, which help in maximizing the available positive energy. The copper plate (called Garbhagriha or Moolasthan) buried under the main idol absorbs and resonates this energy to its surroundings. Going to the temple often helps in having a positive mind and garnering positive energies, which in turn lead to healthier functioning.
It is also a practice to take off footwear before entering places of worship because they would bring in the dirt to an otherwise cleansed and sanctified environment.

Indian Food



Indian food and cuisine not only form an integral part of Indian culture but are also one of the key factors of India’s popularity worldwide. The style of cooking varies from region to region, though unanimously, Indian food has a major reputation for its extensive use of spices and herbs. Just like dances, religious practices, language and clothes, you will also find a wide variety of food throughout the country. Almost every region is known for a signature dish or ingredient. The staple, however, throughout the country consists mostly of rice, wheat and Bengal gram (Chana). While vegetarian food is an integral part of Gujrati South Indian and Rajasthani cuisines, non-vegetarian dishes form a central part of Mughlai, Bengali, North Indian and Punjabi cuisine. It is also interesting to note that certain cuisines like that of Kashmir have also been influenced by foreign cooking styles from Central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan.

There exist thousands of traditions in India, and quite a few of them would leave outsiders rather curious. But the crux of Indian society and culture has always been to be well mannered, polite, respect others, and progress together.


Atithi Devo Bhavah



In India, the saying “Atithi Devo Bhavah” is also integral. It means “the guest is equivalent to god”. It is a Sanskrit verse taken from the Hindu scriptures which later became a part of the “Code of conduct” for Hindu society, since the guest has always been of supreme importance in the culture.

Indian Ethnic Wear


Indian women are often seen sporting ‘saris’. The sari is a single cloth and needs no stitching; it is easy to make and comfortable to wear, and also adheres to religious etiquette. It initially started out as a Hindu tradition but has very elegantly spread across all religions. The same applies to the more functional ‘Kurta-Pyjama’, and the ceremonial wear of ‘Sherwani’ for Indian men of all religions.

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