May 6, 2014

India and It's Culture - An Introduction

Prologue : 

Have you ever thought of the amazing progress we, as human beings, have made in
various spheres of life, be it language, literature, art and architecture, science or
religion? Have you ever wondered how all this has been possible? This happened
because, we did not have to make a fresh beginning each time, but were able to make use
of and build on the work of past generations. You have never had to bother about having
to make your own script or creating a new language system for yourself. These are already
given to you which you enjoy as a member of society. Then you build on it by making your
contribution or addition which further becomes an asset for the coming generations. This is
a continuous and never-ending process. It is a precious possession unique to human beings
and is known as culture. Culture is a way of life. You, your family has a culture and so does
your region and your country. You may be curious to know about the uniqueness of Indian
culture and find out its distinct characteristic.

Characteristics of Indian culture : 

Indian culture is as many sided as life. It includes intellectual and social aspects of any
human being. It also takes account of the aesthetic instinct as well as the spiritual impulses
of human being. It has also, in effect, an appeal to the subconscious as a force making for
the formation of character.
Look at the map of India and you see India is a vast country with a lot of diversity in her
physical and social environment. We see people around us speaking different languages,
having different religions and practising different rituals. You can also see these diversities
in their food habits and dress patterns. Besides, look at the myriad forms of dance and
music in our country. But within all these diversities there is an underlying unity which acts
as a cementing force. The intermingling of people has been steadily taking place in India
over centuries. A number of people of different racial stock, ethnic backgrounds and
religious beliefs have settled down here. Let us not forget that the composite and dynamic
character of Indian culture is a result of the rich contributions of all these diverse cultural
groups over a long period of time. The distinctive features of Indian culture and its uniqueness
are the precious possession of all Indians. 

Cultural Identity, Religion and Ethnicity : 

Our cultural identities are based on various factors such as religion and region. As a result
each Indian possesses multiple identities. Which of these identities asserts itself at a certain
point of time and prevails over the others, depends on the political, social or economic
context in which the person finds himself/herself. Thus each person may have some things
in common with another, but may be vastly different in some other aspects. For example,
except belief, forms of worship and rituals, there may be little that is common among those
who follow a particular faith from the point of view of the whole country. Even in the forms
of worship and rituals there are sectorian and regional differences

hus culturally, Hindus are not all similar, nor are all the Muslims. Brahmins in Tamil Nadu
are quite different from their counterparts in Kashmir. Similarly, Muslims in Kerala and
Uttar Pradesh are dissimilar in several aspects of their culture. Regional identities are more
real. People of different religions and
may have common regional cultural traits like
language, food, dress, values and also the worldview. In Bengal, both Hindus and Muslims
take pride in being Bengalis. Elsewhere one finds Hindus, Christians and Muslims sharing
several elements of regional culture.
In principle, different religious groups owe their allegiance to different religious doctrines.
For instance the Vedas and Shastras may be sources of inspiration for Hindus, Koran and
Hadees for Muslims, and the Bible for Christians. However, at the level of rituals and life
styles there is a lot of intermingling among followers of different religions.
Ethnic culture is strong among the tribal groups. For example, in the small state of Nagaland,
there are more than a dozen tribes and they differ from each other in their dress, speech
and beliefs. Bastar district of Chhattisgarh has several groups claiming different ethnic

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