The debate over Indian culture versus Western culture has been going on for a long time. Everyone brings their unique ideas on the subject. Both of these cultures are unique, meaningful and beautiful in their distinguished ways. The world as we know it today would never have existed had either of these cultures been absent.
Western culture derives most of its customs and traditions from European culture. Indian culture, however, is more diverse. Each state in the country brings with it its own traditions and cultures that are very different from those of its neighbour. Analyzing the differences between them, it is no surprise that the ever-living debate over Indian culture versus Western culture still finds an audience.
The term culture refers to the norms, rituals, beliefs and practices followed by a set of people belonging to a particular region or community. Every nation and every continent has its own culture. It is this knowledge of their indigenous culture that distinguishes a particular nation or community from others. The culture of the land has a considerable role in influencing the way of life of its natives.
Indian history is quite old compared to western history. In fact, Indian history is said to have started with the rise of the Indus Valley Civilization in 2600 BC. Through the ages, the country has undergone a number of changes, which are well reflected in the art, culture, literature and architecture of India.
Western civilization is also quite old and is said to have its roots in ancient Greek civilization. Throughout the ages, Western culture and civilizations have provided a number of important contributions to world literature and architecture. An overview of western history would undoubtedly reveal several literary and artistic legends such as Michelangelo and William Shakespeare who were the pillars in shaping the culture of the western world today.
India is the country of many religions, although the majority of the Indian population follows Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism are also practiced by a significant number of people. In most Western countries, Christianity is the most followed religion, with Islam and Judaism also being practiced by a considerable number of people.
Indian culture is one of the oldest cultures, prevailing in the world today. India is home to many festivals that take place throughout the year. Each state has its own distinct festivals, which mark certain crucial events. The festivals are all celebrated with much pomp and splendour. Indian festivals include Holi, Onam, Pongal among others.
In Western culture too, people celebrate festivals with great joy. Popular western festivals include Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day and many more. However, some festivals are global. Many people around the world celebrate holidays like Christmas and Eid, regardless of nationality.
Music has always been an integral part of all cultures around the world; each country has its distinct musical style, which suits the land and its people. Western music is entirely different from Indian music in several ways. Indian music is composed mainly of classical Hindustani music, Carnatic music, among others. Traditional musical instruments, such as the Tabla, Veena and Shehnai are still used to produce soothing and melodious music in India.
Contrary to this, the Western musical scenario is quite different; it mainly includes jazz, rock, heavy metal and hip hop. The opera is another popular attraction. It is a theatrical art form and is distinguished by its musical component.
India has a number of art forms spread across the country. From mesmerizing Bharatanatyam and splendid Mohiniyattam to lively Garba and graceful Manipuri, the country has beautiful and majestic dance forms unique to each state.
In Western countries, there are also many forms of dance! Ballet, waltz, salsa, tango, etc. are among the most popular dances, performed in various contexts.
The themes of Indian art are different and varied unlike that of Western art. Indian art mainly included elements of religious significance. The paintings also depicted scenes inspired by the artist’s daily life. Indian art legends include Abindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Varma, MF Hussain, Jamini Roy among others.
Western paintings are very popular for its unique depiction of the human figure and the fascinating landscapes. Apart from this, many paintings also depict scenes from the Bible. Western art legends include Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and many more.
Western literature is a faithful reflection of society. Besides the realistic depiction of their lives, Western literature is quite unique due to its liberal use of a variety of techniques to tell the story. Chivalry, romance, loyalty, fantasy, and individualism are some of the key elements in Western literature. Western literary legends include William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and George Bernard Shaw.
Indian literature differs from that of Western literature in both themes and storytelling style. Indian literature mainly focuses on the realistic depiction of issues prevalent in society. Obedience, morality, bravery and human values are some of the most recurring themes in Indian literature. Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu and Premchand are among India’s most popular literary legends.
Each state in India has a distinct culture and hence styles of clothing differ from region to region. For example, the attire worn in Rajasthan is very different from that worn in the southern state of Kerala. Most people in many states prefer the traditional attire which is saree for women and kurta, dothi for men.
People in Western countries wear clothes that are perceived as more modern than Indian clothes. But many western Aboriginal communities still take pride in their traditional clothing, which epitomizes their rich culture and history. But with the advent of globalization, people all over the world are adapting to a universal style of dress which includes jeans, skirts, t-shirts, etc. The younger generation of India is more attracted to western dress style than to traditional clothing. wear.
Suggested Reading – Diversity among traditional clothing of India (infographic)
Although most modern families in India are mostly nuclear in contemporary times, this was not the case a few years ago. Previously, Indian families were mostly mixed families, with each family member living under the same roof. The concept of arranged marriages, very popular in India, would probably be unknown in Western countries.
The Indian staple mainly includes rice and the cuisine includes a wide variety of side dishes. In India, North Indian cuisine varies greatly from South Indian cuisine. Popular dishes of North Indian cuisine include Parathas, Pani Puri, Chole Bature among others. While South Indian cuisine includes dishes such as Dosa, Sambhar, Payasam and Sadhya.
In Western countries, eating habits are quite distinct. Western cuisine is a mixture of various food cultures such as European cuisine, North American cuisine, Mexican cuisine, etc. Each of these cuisines is quite different from the other. The most popular dishes in European cuisine include arancini, pierogi, and palatschinken, while Mexican cuisine is popular for its tacos and burritos. People in Western countries generally prefer wheat to rice. It is therefore an important part of their diet.
In almost every aspect of life, these cultures have their specific outlook and practices, which suit their land and way of life. From the music they listen to, their style of dress and the food they consume, everything highlights the differences that prevail between the two cultures.
Each culture is unique and beautiful in its own way. The debate between Indian culture and Western culture may never see an end. But it is up to each individual to choose the right elements from each culture and incorporate them into their lives.