Culture and Lifestyle in India
India is a diverse country, amazingly rich in culture and heritage. Here, one can experience a huge variety in everything- seasons, natural beauty, historical sites, magnificent architecture, weather, modern infrastructure and much more. Before you head out for a trip to India, it’s really important to gather a bit of knowledge about the culture and lifestyle of India.
Just like the vast geography of the country, the lifestyle of India also exhibits variety. Indian people staying in different parts of the country vary from each other in terms of clothing, cuisine, language, habits, religion, festivals and so on. Despite the differences in their day-to-day life, people in India live together exemplifying “Unity in Diversity”. Moreover, Indian people believe a lot in values and customs. Therefore, several different customs and traditions are followed in different regions.
Enlighten yourself with heart-warming culture and assorted lifestyle of India
Let’s discuss the diversified culture and fused lifestyle of India so that you can make a good choice of the tourist destination in India.
India is a land of fairs and festivals. Several types of festivals are celebrated in India throughout the year. The types of festivals can be categorized a national, seasonal, religious, regional, etc. These festivals are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm and on the occasion of the festival, people dress beautifully, have a merry time in the company of their near and dear ones and offer prayers to the Gods and Goddesses. Some festivals are known by different names in different regions.
From the start of the year to almost every month, there is one festival or another. Diverse like its landscape, festivals of India are varied. Lohri, Bihu, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, the magnificent parade on Indian Republic day and Jaipur Literature Festival is held in January. Goa Carnival, Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Dance Festivals in Khajuraho & Konark, Crafts Mela, and Flower Festivals are held in February. March is made special with the colorful Holi, one of the most popular festivals in India, Elephant Festival, Marwar Festival and more. April too comes with many festivals, like Baisakhi, Bihu, and Tribal festivals, etc. May has festivals held in monasteries in Sikkim and Ladakh. The months of June and July have festivities of Urs Fair, Rath Yatra, Teej, etc. Independence Day, Eid Ul Fitr, Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan, etc. are festivities of August. From October, the festivals are back with Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali, and other. November and December have festivals, like Pushkar Camel Fair, music festivals, and celebrations of Christmas and New Year.
Attending the fairs and festivals of India can be real fun as these are not only celebrated in a rollicking way but also allow you to peek into the customs and traditions of the country.
Since India is a secular country, everyone is free to follow the religion of his/her choice. The religions prevalent in the country include Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, and others. The religions here are not only confined to beliefs but also include ethics, rituals, ceremonies, life philosophies and many more. All religions collectively play an important role in maintaining harmony, culture, history, and peace in the country.
The architectural heritage of India is about 2000 years old and related to major religions of India. Buddhist Stupas and monasteries, Jain and Hindu temples, their decorative motifs all speak for the culture of India and beauty. Each era has its own addition and masterpieces. Numerous Hindu temples all over the country portray Indian Culture and the most magnificent ones are in Khajuraho while the temples of South India are famous for rock-cut monuments, spacious halls, and long corridors. Islamic architecture is also profuse in the country, one of whose finest example is the Taj Mahal. Besides these, many churches and gurudwaras are worth visiting in India.
Since India is inhabited by different ethnic groups having different habits and characteristics, a no. of languages are spoken here. Some of these languages are accepted nationally while others are accepted as accents of that particular region. Even after the independence, Indians continue to speak the language of Britishers, i.e. English, which is a commonly used language. There are four major language families, each with numerous languages. Indo-Aryan, a branch of Indo-European, covers the northern half of the country, and the Dravidian family covers the southern third. In the middle regions, a number of tribal languages of the Munda or Austro-Asiatic family are spoken. In the northeastern hills, numerous Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken. India has 18 major regional languages in which Tamil is the oldest living language, Bengali being the richest in literature. Also, the origin of most of the Indian languages and even foreign languages is Sanskrit. While these tongues are diverse and varied, each speaks the language of love and humanity.
It is another segment of Indian culture that will leave you astonished. Each era has its own style, its own masterpieces and wonders. The vast cultural diversity has enabled a variety of motifs, techniques and crafts to flourish on this land. Born of centuries-old craftsmanship, the variety of designs and motifs has fascinated people from all over the world.
- Paintings: Paintings are the favorite way of expressing someone’s feelings. In ancient India, it has been even used as a tool to demonstrate someone’s religious beliefs. Cave Paintings from Ajanta, Elora, Khajuraho and Temple Paintings all are the testimony of this truth only. Most Rock art in India is mostly influenced by Hinduism or Buddhism.
- Dance: The history of Indian traditional dance which traces its origin back in 2 BC is as colorful as it can be possible. Classical, folk and contemporary, all dance items are performed here in India. Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi, and Mohiniyattam are the few leading forms of classical dance. But in addition to these classical dance forms, there are numerous forms of tribal folk dance which can be found in India.
- Music: Since the Vedic period, music is playing an important role in the life of Indian people. For Indians, music is to soul what food is to the body. In classical Indian music, there are basically two types of schools- the Hindustani Music (North) and the Carnatic Music (South). Like dance, music has a rich and robust folk tradition and music is inextricably woven into the fabric of rural India. Contemporary music of India includes even jazz, pop, and rock.
- Theatre: Another kind of art is the theatre. Though the folk theatre prevails in each and every language and region, the professional theatre is popular only in big urban areas or metropolitan cities. Puppet shows were a unique form of Indian theatre. For centuries, puppet shows have been popular in creating awareness about social issues in masses and inculcating the moral values of truth and honesty.
- Films: India is renowned across the world due to the film industry. More than 1000 movies are produced every year, which are popular among Indians as well as other Asians and Europeans. Indian actors and actresses are admired by all. The Indian films are produced in multiple languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, etc.
- Wooden Art: The craftsmen in Kashmir create intricate carvings on wood obtained from walnut trees. Furniture items like tables, chairs, stools, etc. have floral patterns carved on them while inlay work is done to decorate fruit trays and bowls. Rajasthan is also known for articles made up of locally obtained wood.
- Pottery: It is an aesthetic visual art of India. Lumps of clay are hand-molded to form toys and idols of deities. Two of the pottery types famous in India are terracotta and blue gaze.
- Values and Beliefs
The description of India culture cannot be given in a few words. But to give you a clue about its diversity and its values, it’s important to discuss a bit about the major principles that are followed in India. Some of the most prominent ideologies of India are Tyaag (renunciation), Nishtha (dedication), Ahimsa (non-violence), Upeksha (fortitude), Satya (truth) and Dana (liberal giving). In addition to this, respect is also significant in the lives of the Indians. Indian history teaches people to live in harmony by practicing cooperation and brotherhood.
In India, marriage is seen as an institution where not only two people unite but is also an alliance of two families. Indian weddings are nothing but an elaborate affair of celebrations including a lot of dance and music. Since India is a diverse country, all the castes/communities have different rituals.
Indians regard their guests as God and greet and treat them with utmost respect and courtesy. Different religions have different ways of greeting elders and guests. In Hinduism, people often say “Namaste” while “Adab” is practiced by the Muslims. Indian people are also known for welcoming people with flower garlands. In fact, Indians also offer garlands to the Gods and Goddesses.
Dresses in India vary depending on the geography, climate, ethnicity and cultural traditions of each region. The attires in India are usually featured with hard work, prints, embroidery, etc. In urban areas, people wear western clothes while traditional clothes are worn in rural areas. A ghagra-choli is popular among rural people.
Traditional outfit for women in north and east is saree, which is worn with a blouse covering the upper part of the body. Salwar kameez is also the famous attire in many parts of the country. Other forms of women clothing include churidar, anarkali suit, lehenga choli, etc.
Similarly, there is no paucity in terms of clothing for men. From shirt pants to dhoti kurta, men wear everything depending on their choice and comfort. Traditionally, kurta pajama and sherwani for celebrations are famous in north India while in south India, men cover themselves in lungi accompanied by a shirt.
The diversity of India can also be seen in cuisine. Numerous ingredients, different food preparing styles and culinary presentation together constitute the Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine comprises of everything right from sauces to salads, from non-vegetarian to vegetarian, from sensuous to piquant and from desserts to bread. North India has chole bhature, tandoori chicken, kadhi chawal, rajma chawal, daal-baati churma, dhokla and biryani while rava, uttapam, rasam, sambhar-lemon rice, toran, meen, appam, masala dosa and many more are the savories available in South India.
Spices like cardamom, saffron, cumin seeds, pepper, coriander seeds, etc. add to the flavor of sumptuous dishes and also make food healthy. An Indian meal is not considered whole without a dessert. Therefore, kheer, meetha paan and many others count up for freshness and sweetness.
- Work Culture
The work culture in India is quite different from that of the western countries. It is a reflection of the values and beliefs practiced by Indian people. The office environment is quite informal because employees are treated as equals and everyone’s views are entertained. In India, work is given the top priority, which often leads to an imbalance in work-life. Work timings are generally 9 am to 5 pm. Companies follow the hierarchical system and decision making is usually from top to the bottom. People in India don’t adhere to time strictly even though they work overtime and sometimes on the weekend as well. Titles such as Mr. and Ms. are used to address each other in Indian work culture.
- Social Structure
Although India is known as the largest democracy, complete quality is still not evident in day-to-day life. Societal hierarchy is evident in caste groups, amongst individuals, and in family and kinship groups. Hierarchy [plays a pivotal role in the lives of the Indians where men outrank women of similar age and juniors are outranked by their seniors. The idea of social interdependence is immaculate among Indian people. People are deeply involved with others, and for many, the greatest fear is being left alone without the support of others.
Undoubtedly, India is a shopper’s paradise. In the bustling and flashy markets of India, you can find everything. You will get so many choices that you will be confused. You can shop for jewelry, handicrafts, spices, clothes and much more. Here you can find things at a quite reasonable price as well as branded stuff. If you are excited to learn to sell strategies, you must pay a visit to the local markets. There you will not only come across the adamant sellers but also bargaining Indians, which can be really enticing for a foreign person. Here are some tips that you can bear in mind while shopping in India:
- Take it easy and don’t buy anything on impulse.
- Don’t feel ashamed to bargain.
- Know when to haggle and when to pay the price asked by the seller.
- Don’t get swayed by the suggestions of random people.
- Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t take shoes inside someone’s house as well as temples and mosques.
- Don’t use your left hand while greeting people or eating food.
- Don’t show affection in public.
- Don’t overlook your body language as in India, women are expected not to touch men while meeting and greeting.
- Don’t wear skimpy clothes.
- Keep yourself hydrated and covered while stepping out of the hotel during the afternoon.
- Don’t drink tap water.
- Buy a trusted guide book for help.
- Familiarize yourself with Hindi as it can help you a lot while interacting with people.
- Don’t point your finger towards anything.
In spite of the differences, people in India stay united and are really proud of their culture and traditions. Brace up and take a tour to India for getting an astounding and wholesome experience.