Indian Culture: Customs and Traditions


Indian culture is one of the oldest in the world, as the Indian people can trace their civilization back to 4,500 years ago. Many sources describe it as “Sa Prathama Sanskrati Vishvavara” – the first and the supreme culture in the world, according to the organization All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP).

Western societies have not always viewed India’s culture very favorably, according to Christina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London. Early anthropologists once viewed culture as an evolutionary process, and “every aspect of human development was seen as evolutionarily driven,” she told Live Science. “From this perspective, 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. This essentially included all colonized countries and peoples, 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) long before many Western civilizations.

People of India

Today, India is a very diverse country, with more than 1.3 billion people, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, making it the second most populous country in the world after China. Some estimates, such as those of Statistical, place the population at very close to 1.4 billion. According to the CIA, India’s ethnic makeup is 72% Indo-Aryan (a general term for people of largely Central Asian descent) and 25% Dravidian (being of largely South Asian descent) .

About 35 percent of the population lives in urban areas with an estimated annual rate of just over 2 percent moving to cities each year. New Delhi is India’s most populous city with a population of 31.18 million, according to the CIA, second only to Tokyo, Japan in population size. Mumbai is India’s second largest city with 20.67 million people, followed by Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, all with over 10 million people.

According to Statista, 26.16% of India’s population was under the age of 14 in 2020, 67.27 were between the ages of 15 and 64, and 6.57% were 65 or older.

languages ​​of india

India has 28 states and seven territories, according to the World Health Organization. There is no official language in India, according to a 2010 Gujarat High Court ruling, although Hindi is the official language of government and English is considered a subsidiary official language. The Constitution of India officially recognizes 23 official languages.

Many people living in India write in the Devanagari script. In fact, it is a misconception that the majority of people in India speak Hindi. Although many people speak Hindi in India, at least 56% of Indian residents speak something other than Hindi, according to the CIA. Bengali, Marathi, Telugu Tamil, Gujarati and Urdu are other languages ​​spoken in the country.

Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language, originated in northern India. How the language began has been a point of discussion among linguists. It shares many similarities with English, French, Farsi and Russian languages.

New DNA research in 2017 found that a Aryan migration may have introduced early Sanskrit. “People have been debating the arrival of Indo-European languages ​​in India for hundreds of years,” said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England. “There has been a very long-standing debate over whether Indo-European languages ​​were imported from outside, which most linguists would accept, or whether they evolved indigenously.”

Religion in India

India is identified as the cradle of Hinduism and Buddhism, the third and fourth largest religions in the world. About 84% of the population identifies as Hindu, according to the “Development and Religion Research Handbook“, edited by Matthew Clarke (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013).

There are many variations of Hinduism and four predominant sects – Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakteya and Smarta.

About 13% 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 “Manual”.

The CIA quoted similar figures. According to its World Factbook, approximately 80% of the population is Hindu, 14.2% is Muslim, 2.3% is Christian, 1.7% is Sikh, and 2% is undetermined.

indian cuisine

Indian spices

Indian cuisine is best known for its varied use of spices and is extremely popular around the world. (Image credit: Westend61 via Getty Images)

When the Mughal Empire invaded in the 16th century, they left a significant mark on Indian cuisine. “The influence of the Mughal rulers who ruled India is clearly noticeable in the style of cooking made famous by them. This cuisine is a fusion of Turkish and Persian cuisine, where mostly ground spices are used in the preparation of unique flavor and taste.” wrote Krishna Gopal Dubey in “Indian cuisine(PHI Publisher, 2010). Indian cuisine is also influenced by many other countries. It is known for its wide assortment of dishes and abundant use of herbs and spices. Cooking styles vary from region to the other.

Wheat, Basmati rice and chana (Bengal gram) pulses are important staple foods in the Indian diet. The food is rich in 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, tomatoes and mint, coriander and other herbs – are used liberally in Indian cooking.

Many Hindus are vegetarians, but lamb and chicken are common main courses for non-vegetarians. “The Guardian” reports that between 20 and 40% of the Indian population is vegetarian. A tradition of vegetarianism seems to date back to the ancient past. “India may have been vegetarian during the Mohenjodaro and Harappan civilizations. We don’t know for sure because its script has not been unlocked, but the ancient Dravidian civilization has been proven to be truly vegetarian,” wrote Dubey.

Much Indian food is eaten with fingers or bread used as utensils. There is a wide range of breads served with meals, including naan, an oven-baked sourdough flatbread; and bhatoora, a fried, chewy flatbread common in northern India and eaten with chickpea curry.

Indian architecture and art

The best-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 of Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. India also has many ancient temples.

India is well known for its film industry, commonly referred to as Bollywood. The country’s film history began in 1896 when the Lumière brothers demonstrated the art of cinema in Mumbai, according to the Golden Globes. Today, the films are known for their elaborate songs and dances as well as their elaborate action sequences.

According to Nilima Bhadbhade, author of “contract law in india(Wolters Kluwer, 2016). The great traditions of classical dance – Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Kathakali – draw on mythological and literary themes and have rigid rules of presentation.

A study published in April 2016 in the Journal of Indian Ocean Archeology found that some Indian horns bear many similarities to horns made in Ireland. This research may suggest that the two countries may have exchanged ideas and techniques for making musical instruments during the Bronze Age.

“Some of the horns are downright shocking, to the point that it’s like witnessing a trip back in time,” study author Billy Ó Foghlú, an archaeologist and PhD student at the Australian National University in Canberra, told Live Science. . “If I were to find one of these modern Indian implements in an Irish archaeological dig and didn’t know what I was looking at, I would probably assume it was a Late Bronze Age Irish artifact.”

Indian fashion

Women wearing saris in India

The sari has its origins in ancient India, but has changed over generations and new manufacturing techniques. (Image credit: Tuul & Bruno Morandi via Getty Images)

Indian clothing is closely associated with the colorful silk sarees worn by many women in the country. According to “India time“. A traditional garment for men is the dhoti, an unsewn piece of cloth that is tied around the waist and legs. Men also wear a kurta, a loose shirt that is worn to the knees.

For special occasions, men wear a sherwani or achkan, which is a long coat with a collar without lapels. It is buttoned up to the collar and to the knees. A shorter version of a sherwani is called a Nehru jacket. It is named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister from 1947 to 1964. He actually preferred Ashkan, according to Tehelka, an Indian newspaper. The Nehru jacket was primarily marketed to Westerners and made famous by the Beatles and the Monkees, as well as a number of James Bond villains.

Doing Business in India

India’s currency is the rupee. Nearly 62% of the country’s GDP comes from the service sector, with industry accounting for 23% and agriculture 15.4%, according to the CIA World Factbook. Its main agricultural products are sugar cane, rice, wheat, buffalo milk, milk, potatoes, vegetables, bananas, corn and mangoes.

Indian business culture emphasizes strong hierarchies and formalities, according to Santanderthe decisions, which are particularly important, being thought out for a long time and finally taken by the company’s managers.

Indian festivals and celebrations

diwali is the biggest and most important festival in India. It is a five-day festival known as the Festival of Lights due to the lights being lit during the celebration to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness.

Holi, the feast of colors, also called the Festival of Love, is popular in the spring. The country also celebrates Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15) and Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (October 2).

Additional Resources and Reading

For a deep dive into another element of Indian culture, learn when yoga was born and more on ancient practice.

For a closer look at an important cultural artifact, you can read all about the size of a golf ball star of india sapphire that has already been stolen in a burglary.

Bibliography

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