Wednesday, 7 April 2010

India - Culture And Heritage

Culture of India
A Kathakali performer as Krishna. One the eight major Indian classical dances, Kathakali is more than 1,500 years old and its theme is heavily influenced by the Puranas. (Pictured right: Akshardham in Delhi the largest Hindu temple in the world).
The culture of India has been shaped not only by its long history, unique geography and diverse demography, but also by its ancient heritages, which were formed during the Indus Valley Civalization and evolved further during the Vedic age, rise and decline of Buddhism, the Golden age, invasions from Central Asia, European colonization and the rise of Indian nationalism.
India's diversity is visible in its languages, religions, dance, music, architecture and customs which differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless possess a commonality. The culture of India is an amalgamation of diverse sub-cultures spread all over the country and traditions that are several millennia old.

India is the birth place of Dharmic relig such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Dharmic religions, also known as Indian religions, are a major form of world religions next to the Abrahamic ones. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third- and fourth-largest religions respectively, with around 1.4 billion followers altogether.
India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion still plays a central and definitive role in the life of most of its people.
The religion of 80% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by around 13% of all Indians. Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bah'i Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Despite the strong role of religion in Indian life, atheism and agnostics also have visible influence along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other people.

Family plays a big role in the indian culture. India for ages has had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system. It’s a system under which even extended members of a family like one’s parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. live together. The elder-most, usually the male member is the head in the joint Indian family system who makes all important decisions and rules, whereas other family members abide by it.
Arranged marriages have the tradition in Indian society for centuries. Even today, overwhelming majority of Indians have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members, with the consent of the bride and groom. Arranged matches were made after taking into account factors such as age, height, personal values and tastes, the backgrounds of their families (wealth, social standing) and their castes and the astrological compatibility of the couples' horoscopes.
In India, the marriage is thought to be for life, and the divorce rate is extremely low — 1.1% compared with about 50% in the United States. The arranged marriages generally have a much lower divorce rate. The divorce rates have risen significantly in recent years:
"Opinion is divided over what the phenomenon means: for traditionalists the rising numbers portend the breakdown of society while, for some modernists, they speak of a healthy new empowerment for women."
Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is continued to be practiced in some rural parts of India. According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India's women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world's child marriages occur in India.
Indian names are based on a variety of systems and naming conventions, which vary from region to region. Names are also influenced by religion and caste and may come from religion or epics. India's population speaks a wide variety of languages.
Although women and men are equal before the law and the trend toward gender equality has been noticeable, women and men still occupy distinct functions in Indian society.Woman's role in the society is often to perform household works and pro bono community work. This low rate of participation has ideological and historical reasons. Women and women's issues appear only 7-14% of the time in news programs. In most Indian families, women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property. Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property. In many families, especially rural ones, the girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and malnourished. They still lag behind men in terms of income and job status. Traditional Hindu art, such as Rangoli (or Kolam), is very popular among Indian women. Popular and influential woman's magazines include Femina, Grishobha and Woman's Era.

The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. Common name for wilderness in India is Jungle which was adopted by the British colonialists to the English language. The word has been also made famous in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. India's wildlife has been the subject of numerous other tales and fables such as the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales.
In Hinduism, the cow is regarded as a symbol of ahimsa (non-violence), mother goddess and bringer of good fortune and wealth. For this reason, cows are revered in Hindu culture and feeding a cow is that is seen as an act of worship.

The music of India includes multiples varieties of religious, folk, popular, pop, and classical music. The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda that are still sung in certain Vedic Srauta sacrifices. India's classical music tradition is heavily influenced by Hindu texts. It includes two distinct styles: Carnatic and Hindustani music. It is noted for the use of several Raga, melodic modes. it has a history spanning millennia and it was developed over several eras. It remains instrumental to the religious inspiration, cultural expression and pure entertainment.
Purandaradasa is considered the "father of carnatic music" (Karnataka sangeeta pitamaha). He concluded his songs with a salutation to Lord Purandara Vittala and is believed to have composed as many as 475,000 songs in the Kannada language. However, only about 1000 are known today.
The multiple families of Indian cuisine are characterized by their sophisticated and subtle use of many spices and herbs. Each family of this cuisine is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegitarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats.
Food is an important part of Indian culture, playing a role in everyday life as well as in festivals. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse subcontinent. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into five categories: North, South, East,West Indian and North-eastern India.
Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persians, Mughals, and European colonists. Though the tandoor originated in Central Asia, Indian tandoori dishes, such as chicken tikka made with Indian ingredients, enjoy widespread popularity.
Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines across the globe. Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. The spice trade between India and Europe led to the rise and dominance of Arab traders to such an extent that European explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of dicovery. The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the "pan-Asian" dish.

Traditional Indian clothing for women are the saris and also Ghaghra Cholis (Lehengas). For men, traditional clothes are the Dhoti/pancha/veshti or Kurta. Delhi is considered to be India's fashion capital, housing the annual Fashion weeks. In some village parts of India, traditional clothing mostly will be worn.Delhi Mumbai Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Pune are all places for people who like to shop. In southern India the men wear long, white sheets of cloth called dhoti in English and in Tamil. Over the dhoti, men wear shirts, t-shirts, or anything else. Women wear a sarii, a long sheet of colourful cloth with patterns. This is draped over a simple or fancy blouse. This is worn by young ladies and woman. Little girls wear a pavada. A pavada is a long skirt worn under a blouse. Both are often gaily patterned. Bindi is part of the women's make-up. Traditionally, the red bindi (or sindhur) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it has become a part of women's fashion. A bindi is also worn by some as their third eye. It sees what the others eyes can't and protect your brain from the outside and the sun. Indo-western clothing is the fusion of Western and Subcontinental fashion. Chuidar, Dupatta, Gamchha, Kurta, Mundum Neriyathum, Sherwani, uttariya are among.

Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (in Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi and Telugu) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is considered to be the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and number of tickets sold. (Pictured right: Shooting of a Bollywood dance number).
India has produced many critically acclaimed cinema-makers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Garu Dutt, K. Vishwanath, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, Shekhar Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shankar Nag, Girish Karnad, G. V. Iyer, etc. ). With the opening up of the economy in the recent years and consequent exposure to world cinema, audience tastes have been changing. In addition, multiplexes have mushroomed in most cities, changing the revenue patterns.