The culture of any country is the way the people of the country lead their lives. Their languages & dialects, cuisine, art, architecture, food and customs & traditions are all representative of the culture of that land. It differs from country to country and even within countries, it varies from place to place.India, with its very diverse societies is the land of many cultures; hence India can also be called multicultural. The many different traditions of India have also had a major impact across the world.
Confluence of cultures
If you travel across India, you will find that after every few hundred kilometers people will start talking differently, even if they are speaking the same language. While they may be cooking the same food, the taste will have a distinctive difference. They will be worshipping the same God, they will have different names. All these are indicative of the diversity of India’s culture. Indian culture is so assorted with different regional flavours that it is impossible to single out any one as representative of the entire country’s identity. Our classical music has two main divisions, Hindustani and Carnatic, both with their own rich history and individuality. However, when there is a fusion of the two, they merge so seamlessly that they sound like one form of music. This is also true of the people of India. In our big metros like New Delhi or Mumbai, you will find people who have migrated to these big cities in search of employment and have settled there. While they retain their regional identities, when they come together, you cannot tell them apart.
Culture on a plate
Indian cuisine and culinary practices are very varied. It is almost impossible to make a list of dishes and label that as “Indian cuisine”. The use of numerous ingredients and a wide range of cooking techniques, it is highly improbable that you will find any place that will serve all kinds of Indian food. If you any Indian eatery in UK, USA, Australia or anywhere abroad, they only prepare a few famous dishes and the menu does not do justice to the mammoth variety of Indian foods. Indian cuisine is customarily multifaceted due to the use of spices and herbs in so many different ways.However, the spices are in a way the unifying factor in Indian food. We Indians love hot and spicy foods and any Indian dish is virtually incomplete without them.
Arguably one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse country in the world, India is the birth place of Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism & Buddhism. Religion plays a very important role in Indian society. The values and morals inculcated in children by the family elders are all deeply steeped in religious teachings. Although Hindus form the biggest chunk of the population, India is a secular country with Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Jains also present.
If there is one thing that can truly and rightfully claim as a true representation of Indian culture are the Festivals. We Indians love to celebrate, not only our own festivals but those of other religions and communities as well. At times, it hardly matters to people what they are celebrating, as long as they are able to make merry and get the day off from work. It is not uncommon to see entire localities comprising of people from different religions and ethnic backgrounds celebrating the same festival.
Unfortunately, India does not have a culture of sports. Post independence it was only hockey that was popular and brought laurels for India on the international stage. After the 1983 Cricket World Cup that India won, hockey has been relegated and despite being the national game of the country, it does not enjoy an esteemed position. However, over the last few years, other sports have also started to gain popularity largely due to a few individuals who have been able to overcome the odds and bring glory for themselves and the country. Mary Kom & Vijendar Singh in boxing, Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati in tennis, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in wrestling, Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang in shooting are a few names who have represented India with aplomb and even won individual medals at the Olympics, a rarity in Indian sporting history.
There are also ancient Indian martial arts that have been lost with the passage of time and most present day Indians are not even aware that India is home to many martial arts. Of late though, there have been efforts made to revive these ancient arts like Kalarippayattu, Silambam, Paika Akhada and many more.
How the world looks at Indian Culture
India’s diverseculture has been influencing foreigners since time immemorial. Many western writers have authored books which show the colourful environment of India’s multiplicity. From children’s books to more serious works, they have tried to capture the essence of India’s rich cultural roots. Music and films portraying myriad Indian customs as their theme are also very popular. Many scholars have undertaken the humungous task of conducting in-depth research and for many that is the mission of their existence. A lot of scholars have actually moved from their native countries and settled in India, to try and fuse with the Indian communities and it is heartening to see that they have been welcomed with warmth.