Indian cultural history has been derived from the absorbing customs, traditions, and rituals from both invaders and immigrants. Many Indian traditions, cultural practices and languages are examples of this co-mingling over centuries. It was the birthplace of many religious systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism which influenced not only this country but also the neighbouring countries.
With the subsequent invasion of the Islamic rulers, the culture of India was heavily influenced by Persian, Arabic, Turkish cultures.
The 5000 years old Indian culture is both ancient and varied. But unity in diversity which is the main mantra of Indian civilisation can be seen if anyone monitors its various art forms and traditional diversity.
The subcontinent faced many invasions and the invaders, after occupying it, settled here and became its inhabitants. The fact that every invader brought his culture and integrated it with the original one led to a lot of modifications in society.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of conquests. On the one hand, they disrupt the whole social system for some time until things come to normal and on the other hand, they introduce new traditions and values which enrich society as a whole.
From the Dravidians in 2500 BC to the Aryans in 1500 BC to Persians in 800 BC India has seen civilisations come and go. Then came Alexander The Great in 326 BC followed closely by the Mauryan Empire in 324 BC. Chandra Gupt Maurya and Asoka were the great kings then. Delhi was taken by Qutb-Up-Din Aibak in some 1200 AD and was overthrown by Timur in 1340 AD. By 1450 Vasco Da Gama discovered India. The spices its treasure. And then India saW Babur set foot on its land. His grandson Akhbar The Great was going to change India’s history forever. That glory was soon influenced by East India Company coming to India and spreading roots here. And the rest as they say “IS HISTORY.”
Today what we are, where we stand is all a compounded result of all we went through. Our culture is an array of colours, each colour depicting something from all different cultures. Especially Indian food that is famous worldwide for its spices and flavours are a mirror to its complex traditions. They say the Aryans settled in Northern India while the Dravidians made settlement is Southern India. This can be seen in the languages, dances, clothing, art and mannerisms.
The Indus-Valley civilisation is averment. They had a highly developed language from which modern Dravidian languages grew. As distinguished from the fair-complexioned Aryan invaders who were nomads and rural people, the Dravidians were town-dwellers, living in well laid-out cities; they were skilled craftsmen and agriculturists who had domesticated many animals. According to some historians, the Aryan social organisation into castes and guilds owes its inspiration to the Dravidians. Dr Suniti Kumar Chatterjee has pointed out how great was the cultural influence of the Dravidians on the Aryan mind. “On the spiritual and religious plane”, he observes, “the Dravidian mind was profoundly moved by faith and a mystical sense, and the ideals of Yoga and personal mystical contact with the power behind life were well-developed. It was among the Dravidians that the great gods of post-Vedic Hinduism with both their cosmic and personal significance and appeal, like Siva and Uma, Vishnu and Sri, had their origin. The ideas of a great mother goddess, who was the source of all life, who was both nature and the conscious force of nature, and of a father-god who represented the inactive ultimate reality as a power in repose, appear to have been brought in their germs to India from the original East Mediterranean homeland of the primitive Dravidians and then elaborated in the country, by contact with other races and cultures possessing similar ideologies.” The puja as a mode of worship is a Dravidian contribution.
The Aryan had a highly developed language, Sanskrit, in which poetry and drama, philosophy and religion, of the highest order have been expressed, which for its richness and music has very few rivals. As they settled down in the fertile Gangetic valley and established cultural contacts with the already well-settled people, they produced religion and philosophy which is even now the marvel of the world, philosophy and religion of a most imaginative and profound character. They speculated on the nature of Godhead, origin of the universe, relations between man, Nature and God and the best way of realising spiritual perfection. They developed a complex social organisation based on caste and the four stages of life, both governed by well-defined moral codes, disciplines and duties. They had infinite intellectual curiosity. They welcomed all earnest seekers after the truth. Buddhism and Jainism were influential reformist movements within Hinduism, which met with no intolerant opposition or persecution from the Orthodox. Every other invader from the North made some contribution to indigenous culture and was absorbed in society, leaving no traces of foreign origin behind.
Factors in Indian Culture
India is a country where there are too many languages spoken by the Indians. We can say India is richest in languages. The languages of India belong to several language families. The Constitution of India doesn’t give any language as a national language while there are two languages Hindi and English used as official language. In the census of 2001, it is declared that India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. Languages related data in the census of 2011 is not released till now.
There are many speakers as well as innumerable languages prevailing in India. The prominent languages in India besides English and Hindi are Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi and much more.
India is very religious country. It has world’s major religions, and it’s a very sensitive topic in India. Most of the Indians are Hindu. After Hinduism, religion second is Islam religion.
Hinduism: Hinduism is one of the oldest religions that originated from India. The religion has preserved its culture since ancient times.
Islam: Islam is one of the prominent religions of India. There is the enormous impact of Islam in the Indian society.
Christianity: A large number of people in India belong to Christian faith. St. Thomas is one of the people credited for propagating Christianity in India.
Jainism: Jain religion was founded by Mahavira.
Buddhism: Buddhism was brought by Gautama Buddha.
Sikhism: Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak.
There are different types of festivals celebrated in India with joy and happiness. Different people celebrate different festivals as per their religion, caste and culture. People celebrate National festivals like Independence Day, Republic Day as well as religion festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Christmas, New Year and much more.
Art and Architecture
India has full of talents in the field of art or design. Indian Art includes paintings, rangoli, plastic arts like pottery, and textile arts like woven silk, etc. From Ancient ages, paintings are a part of India art. Examples include paintings of Ajanta cave, Paintings of Ellora cave, etc.
Rangoli is the art made by the female members of the family. It is an art of colours.
India is rich in architecture, and it is one of the great achievements of India. From ages, India has a significant number of architecture like Rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram, temples of Thanjavur, Kanchipuram and much more.
The discussion on Indian culture will remain incomplete if we do not discuss the various classical and folk dance forms of India. India is a land of diverse dance forms. The main Indian dances are Folk Dance and Classical Dance.
The most popular Classical dance forms are Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, etc.
Folk dances are mainly performed in any occasion like the birth of a child, festivals, harvesting seasons, wedding events, etc.
Folk Dances include Gaur Dance, Chhau Dance, Bihu Dance, Dumhal Dance, Padayani Dance, Dollu Kunitha Dance, Dandiya Dance and much more. These are celebrated on different occasions by the people of India.
Music is something which exists from the beginning of Indian culture. It’s a part of human life. There are different instruments like drums, cymbals, etc.. These musical instruments can produce various types of melodic sounds which are pleasant to hear and also make the body calm.
In early ages, there were Kalidas, Surdas, Tulsidas, Kabir, etc. who were popular for their music and songs.
The various form of Indian culture is reflected in Indian music. There are different forms of music, such as ghazals, Shayari, folk music and much more.
There were many legends that created music in India like Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, and Pandit Ravi Shankar, etc. They are great pioneers in their field.
Also, it is worth to mention that, presently, Indian industry also has many musicians and singers who gave music to their name like Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Abhijeet, etc.
Clothing style in India varies from region to region, state to state. Indians wear both traditional dresses and western attire as well.
When a child is born, langotas and loincloths are the only clothing equipment to the cover the whole body of a child.
Apart from all the western clothes, Indians have their ethnic wear like dhoti, kurta, salwar kameez, sari, sherwani, turban, etc.
Dhoti is a piece of cloth which is tied by men around their waist. Dhoti is also known as Dhuti or Laacha.
Kurta is one of the famous ethnic wear of men in India. Nowadays, it is carried by the people during festive occasions.
Similarly, Saree is one of the leading clothing for female members of the society in India. Saree is the most fashionable dress for Indian women around the world. During religious and cultural events, Indian women are mostly seen in beautiful sarees.
However, sarees are replaced by salwar-suits as the favourite daily wear because of its comfort.
Indian Handicrafts has its existence in Indian culture from the time of Indus Valley Civilization. There are numerous examples which show that India has its excellence in the field of handicrafts.
Rajasthan has its well-established craft-industry. For Rajasthan, it’s a tradition to make handicrafts items. Royal Rajput families of Rajasthan are great patrons of art and craft.
Some of the examples of Indian Handicrafts are carpets, pottery, textiles, jute table mats and much more. People, from all around the world, come to get a look of Indian handicraft. India has rich in heritage, and there are wide ranges in Indian crafts.
Not only in taste but also in the way of cooking, Indian foods are entirely different from the rest of the world. Indian foods showcase the perfect mixture of tradition, culture, and love. It is evolving from ages, and that’s why there are different forms of Indian food.
As per the region and state, various kinds of Indian Foods are available like Bengali food, Gujarati food and much more.
Based on the area, the various forms of food are North Indian food, South Indian food, etc. North Indian food mainly includes items which are bread related like Tandoori Roti, Nan, etc. East Indian Food mainly refers to staple food and sweet dishes like Roshogollas, Sandesh, etc. South Indian Food mainly includes items which are made of rice powder like, Idli, Dosa, etc.
Movies are an important part of the contemporary Indian society. The culture of Indian society finds its place in the movies. The movies of India include the movies or films produced across the country. Movies have gained a large popularity in India, and the leading role goes to the media. One of the world’s biggest and oldest Film Industry is in India. In early 1913, India got its first public screening. Most popular Dadasaheb Phalke directed the Film and the name of the film were Raja Harischandra. He was awarded as the Father of Indian Cinema. Indian movies include Bollywood, Tollywood and other regional movies and documentaries based on India. Indian Film Industry is widely known as Bollywood.
The best minds of the country have assimilated Western culture without repudiating their own. A new synthesis is being achieved. While it is recognized everywhere that we must increasingly use science and technology and rationalize production to raise the standards of living of the people, reform our social structure to make it modern and lead a democratic way of life, it is also felt that we can achieve this only when we have combined these borrowings with our values of Indian Culture. It is India’s destiny to give humanity such a synthesis.
Our culture should be upheld as our heritage. Nothing and no one should be allowed to attack or destroy our cultural traditions. It is always wise to remember that our cultures define our existence and make us who we are. It should be passed on generations after generation like it has been done until now. Our cultural background should never fade into oblivion, and we have to make sure of that. The world without diverse cultural will not be as colourful as it is now.