indian culture

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Ashutosh Mishra Galgotias Business School

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If there is one place on the face of earth where all dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India. French scholar Romain Rolland


The culture of India has been shaped by the long history of India, its unique geography and the absorption of customs, traditions and ideas from some of its neighbours as well as by preserving its ancient heritages, which were formed during the Indus Valley Civilization and evolved further during the Vedic age, rise and decline of Buddhism, Golden age, Muslim conquests and European colonization . CULTURE OF INDIA




Geography of India is awesome and is reflected in its enriching diversity . From sombre snow-capped mountain ranges to turbulent seas, from sun-drenched deserts to dense rain forests, from tranquil hill stations to picturesque valleys, the geography of India has it all. The mainland of India extends between 8º 4' N and 37º 6' North Latitudes and 68º 7' and 97º 25 'East Longitudes. Having an impressive 7000 km long coastline, India can be a beach-hopper's dream come true. India - the seventh largest country in the world- is spread across an area of approximately 3.28 million sq km, with a population of approximately 112 crores . Out of this total area, the total land area of this country is 2,973,190 square kilometers. India is comprised of 28 states, and seven federally administered union territories . geography of India has many rivers and river systems, which are the major sources of country's irrigation and electricity. Some of the major rivers of India are Ganga , Yamuna, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri and Mahanadi. Besides these, the mighty Brahmaputra and Indus rivers also flow through India. Ganga , Brahmaputra and Indus originate from Himalayas, and these rivers are perennial as they get water from the rainfall as well as the melting of ice. Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi and Kaveri are known as peninsular rivers, as they originate in peninsular India. A large number of peninsular rivers forms a prominent part of Geography of India and are seasonal as their flow is dependent on rainfall. GEOGRAPHY OF INDIA

State - Capital:

1. Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad 2. Arunachal Pradesh - Itanagar 3. Assam - Dispur 4. Bihar - Patna 5. Chhatisgarh - Raipur 6. Goa - Panaji 7. Gujarat - Gandhinagar 8. Haryana - Chandigarh 9. Himachal Pradesh - Shimla 10. Jammu & Kashmir - Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter) 11. Jharkhand - Ranchi 12. Karnataka - Bangalore 13. Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram 14. Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal State - Capital

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15. Maharashtra – Mumbai 16 . Manipur – Imphal 17 . Meghalaya – Shillong 18 . Mizoram – Aizawl 19 . Nagaland – Kohima 20 . Orissa – Bhubaneswar 21 . Punjab – Chandigarh 22 . Rajasthan – Jaipur 23 . Sikkim – Gangtok 24 . Tamil Nadu – Chennai 25 . Tripura – Agartala 26 . Uttar Pradesh – Lucknow 27 . Uttaranchal – Dehradun 28 . West Bengal - Kolkata


Capital : Dispur Principal Language : Assamese Largest City : Guwahati CULTURE: Assam's people are a mix of Mongolian-Tibetan, Aryan, and Burman origins, and their cultures have come together in Assam. The language of the people, Assamese, is very much like Bengali The most important celebrations in Assam are the three Bihu festivals. The most important is the springtime Bohag Bihu (or Rangali Bihu ), which marks the new year; it is celebrated with dancing, singing, and the presentation of a hand-woven towel to each family member from women of the house. The harvest festival Magh Bihu occurs in mid-January and celebrates community. The Kati Bihu (or Kangali Bihu ) of mid-October marks the time of year when common houses lack food grains. ASAM


Capital : Hyderabad Principal Language : Telugu and Urdu Largest City : Hyderabad CULTURE The celebrations and festivals of Andhra Pradesh reflect the diversity of its people. Hindu festivals such as Dasara , Deepavali , Sri Ramanavami , etc… are widely celebrated. Major Muslim and Christian holidays like Bakrid , Id- ul - Fitr , Christmas, and Easter are also observed. However, the celebrations of Ugadi (the Telugu New Year), Sankranti , Dasara , and Vinayaka Chavithi are almost exclusive to the state. Rice is the staple food of Andhra Pradesh. Chillies , Andhra pickle, and Gongura chutneys distinguish the state’s cuisine from much of India. Traditional dance and drama has also been an important part of the state’s culture. Andhra Pradesh’s major contribution to dance is the combination of music and abhinaya (acting solely through body language, not words) known as Kuchipudi . Sadly, the dawn of the cinema marked the recession of drama. ANDHRA PRADESH


Capital : Itanagar Principal Language : Nyishi , Dafla , Miji , Largest City : Itanagar CULTURE: The state's population is made up of over 26 different tribes and many more sub-tribes such as the Adi of central Arunachal Pradesh, the Mishmi in the hills of the northeast, and the Wancho , Nocte , and Tangsa of the southeast. These tribes each have their own customs, traditions, dress, and language. In fact, Arunachal Pradesh houses over 50 distinct languages and dialects, mostly of the Sino-Tibetan language family. So Assamese, Hindi, and English are used as unifying languages for the state. In reflection of its location and history, the food of Arunachal Pradesh is varied. Typical vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods from all Indian regions are widely available. Chinese food is also common. A specialty of the area is the apong ARUNACHAL PRADESH


Capital : Patna Principal Language : Hindi, Angika , Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili Largest City : Patna CULTURE : The greatest influence on Bihari culture would have to be religion. Like most other states in India, there is a wide array of religions that call Bihar home. Though Hinduism is the prevailing religion of the people of Bihar now, ancient Bihar (known as Magadh ) was a major center of Buddhist civilization, and Jainism found its start in Bihar. During medieval times, Islam and Sikhism thrived; British colonizers brought Christianity to the people of Bihar. As a result, Bihar is full of temples, mosques, and churches, all of which are major centers for their community. Reflective of the Hindu majority, the largest celebrations in Bihar are for Hindu observances, such as Holi , Raksh Bandhan , Deepawali (or Diwali ), and Janmashtami . Of course, the holidays of Bihar's many other religions are celebrated as well. BIHAR


Capital : Gandhinagar Principal Language : Gujarati , Hindi Largest City : Ahmedabad CULTURE: Gujarat's incredibly large Hindu population has been the greatest source of what is now considered Gujarati culture. In particular, strong influence comes from the legend of Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. One of the most popular folk dances, Garba , honors Krishna. The traditional folk drama, Bhavai , also venerates Krishna. In addition to these performance arts, crafts and other material arts are signatures of Gujarat. GUJRAT


Capital : Panaji Principal Language : Marathi and Konkani Largest City : Vasco da Gama, Goa CULTURE: Once a Portuguese colony, the state of Goa provides a culture that is a potent mixture of the East and the West. Though the large Christian population almost exclusively spoke Portuguese in the past, they now typically speak Konkani or English. This unity among peoples and religions in one land allows for fabulous public celebrations of Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, as well as major Hindu festivals like Deepawali ( Divali ). The western presence is evident in more than just the religious scheme and public festivals of Goa. GOA


MADHYA PRADESH Capital : Bhopal Principal Languages : Hindi CULTURE : Most of India's tribal population calls Madhya Pradesh home. The Oraons dominate eastern portion of the state, the Gonds tribe (once rulers of the entire land now known as Madhya Pradesh) live in much of the state's southern portion, and the Bhils live in the western part of the state. Of course, non-tribal populations are found throughout the state, and the modern lifestyle continues to encroach on the land, but these tribes have remained true to their tribal heritage . In similar fashion, the cooking of the state is much like that of the rest of northern India: a staple of wheat rotis and vegetables cooked with onions and tomatoes


In India, religion is a way of life. It is an integral part of the entire Indian tradition. Secular India is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and other innumerable religious traditions, Hinduism is the dominant faith, practiced by over 80% of the population. INDIA RELIGION


The Hindu religion had its origin in the concepts of the early Aryans who came to India more than 4,000 years ago. It is not merely a religion but also a philosophy and a way of life. Hinduism does not originate in the teachings of any one prophet or holy book. It respects other religions and does not attempt to seek converts. It teaches the immortality of the human soul and three principal paths to ultimate union of the individual soul with the all pervasive The essence of Hindu faith is embodied in the Lord's Song, the Bhagavad Gita : "He who considers this (self) as a slayer or he who thinks that this (self) is slain, neither knows the Truth. For it does not slay, nor is it slain. This (self) is unborn, eternal, changeless, ancient, it is never destroyed even when the body is destroyed." HINDUSIM


In the sixth century before Christ, Mahavira propagated jainism . Its message was asceticism, austerity and non-violence. At about the same time, Buddhism came into being. Gautama Buddha, a prince, renounced the world and gained enlightenment. He preached that'Nirvana ' was to be attained through the conquest of self. Buddha's teachings in time spread to China and some other countries of South-East Asia. JAINISM & BUDDHISM


Arab traders brought Islam to South India in the seventh century. After them came the Afghans and the Moghuls , among whom the most enlightened was the Emperor Akbar. Akbar almost succeeded in founding a new religion Din-e- Elahi , based on both Hinduism and Islam, but it found few adherents. Islam has flourished in India through the centuries. Muslim citizens have occupied some of the highest positions in the country since independence in 1947. ISLAM


Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism in the 15th century, stressed the unity of God and the brotherhood of man. Sikhism, with its affirmation of God as the one supreme truth and its ideals of discipline and spiritual striving, soon won many followers. It was perhaps possible only in this hospitable land that two religions as diverse as Hinduism and Islam could come together in a third, namely Sikhism. SIKHISM


Christianity reached India not long after Christ's own lifetime, with the arrival of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The Syrian Christian Church in the south traces its roots to the visit of St. Thomas. With the arrival of St.Francis Xavier in 1542 the Roman Catholic faith was established in India. Today Christians of several denominations practise their faith freely. CHRISTIANITY


The traditional Indian culture is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. From an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society. In recent years, particularly in cities, some of these lines have blurred and sometimes even disappeared. Nuclear family is becoming central to Indian culture. In rural areas it is common that three or four generations of the family live under the same roof. SOCIETY




Namaste , Namaskar or Namaskaram is a common spoken greeting or salutation in the Indian subcontinent,expressing deep respect. In Indian culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. Taken literally, it means "I bow to you". The word is derived from Sanskrit ( namas ): to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, and respectand ( te ): "to you ". NAMASTE


India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. The three national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti , are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Diwali , Ganesh Chaturthi , Durga puja , Holi , Rakshabandhan and Dussehra . FESTIVALS

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Several harvest festivals, such as Sankranthi , Pongal and Onam , are also fairly popular. Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali which celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and Vesak which is celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus. Islamic festivals, such Eid ul-Fitr , Eid al- Adha and Ramadan, are celebrated by Muslims across India.


The multiple families of Indian cuisine are characterized by their sophisticated and subtle use of many spices and herbs. Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. European explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of Discovery. FOOD

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Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into four categories: North, South, East, and West Indian. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavour of a dish and create unique flavours and aromas.


Traditional Indian clothing for women are the saris and Ghaghra Cholis ( Lehengas ). For men, traditional clothes are the Dhoti, or Kurta . Mumbai, is one of India's fashion capitals. Little girls wear a pavada . A pavada is a long skirt worn under a blouse. Both are often gaily patterned. CLOTHING

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Bindi is part of the women's make-up. Traditionally, the red bindi (or sindoor ) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it has become a part of women's fashion. Indo-western clothing is the fusion of Western and Subcontinental fashion. Churidar , Dupatta , Gamchha , Kurta , Mundum Neriyathum , Sherwani,uttariya are among other clothes.

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