Essay on Indian Culture

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‘Culture’ is an umbrella term that comprises ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular group of people or society. Every culture has its own unique flavour to it. It transfers from generation to generation, as inspiration and a guiding force to them for centuries.

The culture of India is considered to be one of the oldest in the world. India’s culture consists of thousands of unique cultures of various communities and religions in India. There are 28 states in India with different cultures, and it is the second most populated country in the world. Language, religious beliefs, art, dance, music, architecture, cuisines, and customs differ from one place to another even within the country, making it incredibly diverse. Such variety throughout the country makes the one amazed.

Religious culture

Indian religions have had a significant impact on shaping the traditions and customs of India. India has several religions that originated thousands of years ago. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and other religions; these are collectively known as Indian religions. It makes India one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Various eras have come and gone, but the essence of the Indian culture is intact.

Religious culture Image

Hinduism and Buddhism have over 2 billion followers across the globe, making them the third and fourth-largest religions in the world, respectively. India has the largest number of Hindu population, which is around 80% of the total population. Though India is a secular country, and it has a large Muslim population as well. These religions may not have the same beliefs, but they all respect each other’s differences and embrace them with the spirit of brotherhood.

Family structure and marriage

The Indian family structure is significantly different than any western country. For generations, India has followed the tradition of the joint family system. It means members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses, and their offspring – live together under the same roof. These concepts may be surprising to the rest of the world, where children leave their parents to pursue their education or career after a certain age.

In the Indian family, it is usually the oldest male who is the head of the family and makes all the crucial decisions, rules, and other family members likely to follow. Indian children are taught to respect their elders since childhood; it helps them form a humble character and influences them throughout their life.

ust like the Indian families, Indian marriages are also different than the rest of the world. India has the concept of arranged marriages, and they have been the norm in Indian society for decades. It is evident even today, the majority of the Indians have their weddings planned by their parents and respected elders. Surprisingly enough, according to reports, marriages in India have a lower divorce rate than the United States.

Like Indian marriage planning, the wedding rituals are also wildly different. Weddings are nothing short of festive occasions in India, including extensive decoration, guests, cuisines, colors, music, dance, costumes, and rituals that depend on the couple’s religion.

The Hindu weddings have some essential rituals like – Kanyadan, Panigrahana, and Saptapadi, and tying Mangalsutra necklace around the bride’s neck in a marriage ceremony. Sikhs get married through the Anand Karaj ceremony, walking around the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib four times. Indian Muslims celebrate a traditional Islamic wedding following the customs similar to the Middle East, including rituals like Nikah, Mahr, and signing a marriage contract. Indian Christians follow traditions identical to the ones practiced in western Christian countries. 

Festivals and Greetings

Indian festivals play a crucial role in the Indian culture and the life of the citizens. India being a religiously diverse nation, has festivals throughout the year. Festivals such as – Diwali, Dussehra, Navaratri, Janmashtami, Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. are the festivals of Hinduism. Whereas the Eid-ul-Fitr, Bakrid, Muharram, etc. are celebrated by the Mohammedan. Christians also celebrate festivals such as Christmas, Good Friday, etc. Besides, these harvest festivals such as Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Sohrai, etc. are celebrated by the farmers.

Despite having different festivals of various religions, India’s soul stands united and Indian people celebrate these festivities with equal enthusiasm, love, and brotherhood. Indian culture is highly influenced by the century-old belief “Atithi Devo Bhava,” meaning a guest is a form of God. And this is noticeable during the celebration of these festivities. People from different religious beliefs and cultures come together, greet each other with love and care, and rejoice in the spirit of harmony and prosperity. This is one of the vital elements of Indian culture.

Indian Culture Image
Indian Culture

Indian Cuisine

India is known all over the world for its exotic cuisines and the use of spices. The food is as diverse as India itself. These cuisines use various ingredients, a wide variety of food preparation styles, cooking techniques, and culinary representations.

The cuisines vary from region to region, reflecting the cultural diversity of the country. A significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, but many Indian dishes include meat, fish, eggs, and other seafood. Despite such diversity, varied use of spices in an integral part of the preparation of most of the dishes. North Indian food includes vegetables, Roti (a form of bread), rice, fish, curry, etc. Whereas south Indian food includes Dosa, Sambar, Idli, Vada, Upma, etc., and south Indian food is prepared using coconut oil instead of Mustard or Sunflower oil. Not just in India, the Indian cuisines are eaten all around the globe, noticeably the Chicken Tikka Masal is very popular in the western countries.

Indian Clothing

Indian costumes vary from one region to another, mainly depending on the local culture, geography, and climate. Some popular styles of dressing include draped garments such as Sari for women and Doti or Lungi for men. Besides these, stitched clothes are also popular such as Churidar or salwar-kameez for women, with a scarf thrown over the shoulder. Sikhs commonly wear a headgear/ turban. 

Besides, these married women wear Sindoor, a vermillion colored powder in the center parting of their hair. Moreover, they wear bangles, earrings, Mehendi, etc. as a part of their attire.

Indian Culture
Indian culture is unique in the world

India: Language and literature

The Rigveda Sanskrit is the oldest attestation of any Indo-Aryan languages, also one of the first members of the Indo-European languages. In terms of vocabulary and grammar, Sanskrit’s similarity to the classical European languages was striking. Studies have shown that many India derived languages belong to the family, which includes languages like English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Celtic, Greek, Baltic, Armenian, Persian, Tocharian, and some other Indo-European languages. The Rigveda became the foundation of many religious scriptures and literary works later on.

Another major classical Indian language is Tamil, which descends from Proto-Dravidian languages around the third millennium BCE in peninsular India. Tamil literature is one of the most ancient, with a recorded existence of over two thousand years. India has seen many cultural reforms over the past centuries, hundreds of new languages were developed across various regions of the country.. There are 19,569 mother tongues according to the census report, 2011, and 22 languages have been mentioned in the constitution. It includes languages like Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, etc.

Besides a diverse language base, India has a rich history in literature as well. It includes epics like the Ramayana written by Rishi Valmiki and Mahabharata, written by Rishi Vyasa in India. Furthermore, biographies of kings and emperors such as the Mughal Empire, Baburnama, and Akbarnama are precious pieces of literally. Scriptures written by foreign travelers like – Faxian (Fa-Hien) and Hsuan-Tsang provide knowledge of Indian traditions and lifestyles from 399 AD to 643 AD.

India: Dance and Music

Dance and music are undoubtedly the two integral parts of every culture. There are numerous styles of folk dance observed in the country. The Indian art of dance, according to some ancient books, is considered to be the expression of inner beauty and the divine in man.

The Indian dance includes eight classical forms along with many narrative forms with mythological elements as well. These right traditional forms are –

  • Bharatanatyam of the state of Tamil Nadu
  • Kathak of Uttar Pradesh,
  • Kathakali and Mohiniattam of Kerala
  • Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh
  • Yakshagana of Karnataka
  • Manipuri of Manipur
  • Odissi (orissi) of the state of Odisha
  • Sattriya of Assam

Similar to dance, Indian music is also vast and diverse. Its numerous types and styles of music, every year, various music festivals are arranged in every significant region where people from all over the country join and discuss the musical culture, keeping the heritage intact. Some of the most famous music styles in India are Karnatak, Classical, Dhrupad, Khayal and Thumri, Bhajan, Ghazal, Sufi, Chakri, Baul, etc.

Conclusion on Indian Culture

India is undoubtedly one of the world’s most diverse countries, having a rich culture and traditions. These cultures teach people the vital elements of life: kindness, humility, tolerance, and unity. India is an umbrella of various cultures within the country, which are all unique from one another. It is a blend of modern lifestyle and culture, and century-old traditions, cultures, and beliefs. It is the land with extreme differences among its people in terms of religious beliefs, costumes, cuisines, and languages, but simultaneously joined by the same spirit of unity, respect, love, and brotherhood, justifying its identity as the “Unity in Diversity”.

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