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Culture of India

culture of india, culture of india ppt
The culture of India is the way of living of the people of India India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs differs from place to place within the country The Indian culture, often labeled as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old12 Many elements of India's diverse cultures, such as Indian religions, Indian philosophy and Indian cuisine, have had a profound impact across the world


  • 1 Culture
    • 11 Philosophy
  • 2 Family structure and marriage
    • 21 Arranged marriage
    • 22 Wedding rituals
  • 3 Greetings
  • 4 Festivals
  • 5 Animals
  • 6 Cuisine
  • 7 Clothing
  • 8 Languages and literature
    • 81 History
    • 82 Epics
  • 9 Performing arts
    • 91 Dance
    • 92 Drama and theatre
    • 93 Music
  • 10 Visual arts
    • 101 Painting
    • 102 Sculpture
    • 103 Architecture
  • 11 Sports and martial arts
    • 111 Sports
    • 112 Indian martial arts
  • 12 Popular media
    • 121 Television
    • 122 Cinema
  • 13 Perceptions of Indian culture
  • 14 Miscellaneous
  • 15 See also
  • 16 References
    • 161 Bibliography
  • 17 Further reading
  • 18 External links


India is one of the world's oldest civilizations and one of the most populated countries in the world3 The Indian culture, often labeled as an amalgamation of several various cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced and shaped by a history that is several thousand years old12 Throughout the history of India, Indian culture has been heavily influenced by Dharmic religions4 They have been credited with shaping much of Indian philosophy, literature, architecture, art and music5 Greater India was the historical extent of Indian culture beyond the Indian subcontinent This particularly concerns the spread of Hinduism, Buddhism, architecture, administration and writing system from India to other parts of Asia through the Silk Road by the travellers and maritime traders during the early centuries of the Common Era67 To the west, Greater India overlaps with Greater Persia in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains8 Over the centuries, there has been significant fusion of cultures between Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Jains, Sikhs and various tribal populations in India910

India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, collectively known as Indian religions11 Indian religions are a major form of world religions along with Abrahamic ones Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third and fourth-largest religions respectively, with over 2 billion followers altogether,121314 and possibly as many as 25 or 26 billion followers1215 Followers of Indian religions – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists make up around 80–82% population of India

India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures Religion plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people Although India is a secular Hindu-majority country, it has a large Muslim population Except for Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Lakshadweep, Hindus form the predominant population in all 29 states and 7 union territories Muslims are present throughout India, with large populations in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, West Bengal and Assam; while only Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep have majority Muslim populations Sikhs and Christians are other significant minorities of India

According to the 2011 census, 80% of the population of India practice Hinduism Islam 142%, Christianity 23%, Sikhism 17%, Buddhism 07% and Jainism 04% are the other major religions followed by the people of India16 Many tribal religions, such as Sarnaism, are found in India, though these have been affected by major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity17 Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Bahá'í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller17 Atheism and agnostics also have visible influence in India, along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other faiths17 According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, India will have world's largest populations of Hindus and Muslims by 2050 India is expected to have about 311 million Muslims making up around 19–20% of the population and yet about 13 billion Hindus are projected to live in India comprising around 76% of the population

Atheism and agnosticism have a long history in India and flourished within Śramaṇa movement The Cārvāka school originated in India around the 6th century BCE1819 It is one of the earliest form of materialistic and atheistic movement in ancient India2021 Sramana, Buddhism, Jainism, Ājīvika and some schools of Hinduism consider atheism to be valid and reject the concept of creator deity, ritualism and superstitions222324 India has produced some notable atheist politicians and social reformers25 According to the 2012 WIN-Gallup Global Index of Religion and Atheism report, 81% of Indians were religious, 13% were not religious, 3% were convinced atheists, and 3% were unsure or did not respond2627


Close-up of a statue depicting Maitreya at the Thikse Monastery in Ladakh Buddhist philosophy has deeply impacted India

Indian philosophy comprises the philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent There are six schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta—and four heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ājīvika and Cārvāka – last two are also schools of Hinduism2829 However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions30 Since medieval India ca1000–1500, schools of Indian philosophical thought have been classified by the Brahmanical tradition3132 as either orthodox or non-orthodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on whether they regard the Vedas as an infallible source of knowledge27

The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era According to philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the earliest of these, which date back to the composition of the Upanishads in the later Vedic period 1000–500 BCE, constitute "the earliest philosophical compositions of the world"33 Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Śaiva and Advaita Vedanta survived, but others, like Samkhya and Ājīvika, did not; they were either assimilated or became extinct Subsequent centuries produced commentaries and reformulations continuing up to as late as the 20th century Authors who gave contemporary meaning to traditional philosophies include Swami Vivekananda, Ram Mohan Roy, and Swami Dayananda Saraswati34

Family structure and marriageedit

A bride during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony in Punjab

For generations, India has a prevailing tradition of the joint family system It is a game extended members of a family – parents, children, the children's spouses and their offspring, etc – live together Usually, the oldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system He mostly makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members are likely to abide by them 35

In a 1966 study, Orenstein and Micklin analysed India's population data and family structure Their studies suggest that Indian household sizes had remained similar over the 1911 to 1951 period Thereafter, with urbanisation and economic development, India has witnessed a break up of traditional joint family into more nuclear-like families3637 Sinha, in his book, after summarising the numerous sociological studies done on Indian family, notes that over the last 60 years, the cultural trend in most parts of India has been an accelerated change from joint family to nuclear families, much like population trends in other parts of the world The traditional large joint family in India, in the 1990s, accounted for a small percent of Indian households, and on average had lower per capita household income He finds that joint family still persists in some areas and in certain conditions, in part due to cultural traditions and in part due to practical factors36 Youth in lower socio-economic classes are more inclined to spend time with their families than their peers due to differing ideologies in rural and urban parenting38 With the spread of education and growth of economics, the traditional joint-family system is breaking down rapidly across India and attitude towards the working women has changed

Arranged marriageedit

Main articles: Arranged marriage and Women in India A bride in India

Arranged marriages have long been the norm in Indian society Even today, the majority of Indians have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members In the past, the age of marriage was young39 The average age of marriage for women in India has increased to 21 years, according to 2011 Census of India40 In 2009, about 7% of women got married before the age of 1841

In most of the marriages the bride's family provide a dowry to the bridegroom Traditionally, the dowry was considered a woman's share of the family wealth, since a daughter had no legal claim on her natal family's real estate It also typically included portable valuables such as jewellery and household goods that a bride could control throughout her life42 Historically, in most families the inheritance of family estates passed down the male line Since 1956, Indian laws treat males and females as equal in matters of inheritance without a legal will43 Indians are increasingly using a legal will for inheritance and property succession, with about 20 percent using a legal will by 200444

In India, the divorce rate is low — 1% compared with about 40% in the United States4546 These statistics do not reflect a complete picture, though There is a dearth of scientific surveys or studies on Indian marriages where the perspectives of both husbands and wives were solicited in-depth Sample surveys suggest the issues with marriages in India are similar to trends observed elsewhere in the world The divorce rates are rising in India Urban divorce rates are much higher Women initiate about 80 percent of divorces in India47

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 women48

Recent studies suggest that Indian culture is trending away from traditional arranged marriages Banerjee et al surveyed 41,554 households across 33 states and union territories in India in 2005 They find that the marriage trends in India are similar to trends observed over last 40 years in China, Japan and other nations49 The study found that fewer marriages are purely arranged without consent and that the majority of surveyed Indian marriages are arranged with consent The percentage of self-arranged marriages called love marriages in India were also increasing, particularly in the urban parts of India50

Wedding ritualsedit

A Hindu wedding ritual in progress The bride and the groom are seated together, receiving instructions from the priest The sacred square fire container yajna kund is behind the priest

Weddings are festive occasions in India with extensive decorations, colors, music, dance, costumes and rituals that depend on the religion of the bride and the groom, as well as their preferences51 The nation celebrates about 10 million weddings per year,52 of which over 80% are Hindu weddings

While there are many festival-related rituals in Hinduism, vivaha wedding is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life5354 Typical Hindu families spend significant effort and financial resources to prepare and celebrate weddings The rituals and process of a Hindu wedding vary depending on region of India, local adaptations, resources of the family and preferences of the bride and the groom Nevertheless, there are a few key rituals common in Hindu weddings – Kanyadaan, Panigrahana, and Saptapadi; these are respectively, gifting away of daughter by the father, voluntarily holding hand near the fire to signify impending union, and taking seven steps before fire with each step including a set of mutual vows After the seventh step and vows of Saptapadi, the couple is legally husband and wife545556 Sikhs get married through a ceremony called Anand Karaj The couple walk around the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib four times Indian Muslims celebrate a traditional Islamic wedding following customs similar to those practiced in the Middle East The rituals include Nikah, payment of financial dower called Mahr by the groom to the bride, signing of marriage contract, and a reception57 Indian Christian weddings follow customs similar to those practiced in the Christian countries in the West in states like Goa but have more Indian customs in other states


Pressing hands together with a smile to greet Namaste – a common cultural practice in India

Greetings include Namaste Hindi and Sanskrit, Namaskar Hindi, Juhar/Namaskar in Odia, Namaskar Marathi, Namaskara Kannada, Namaskaram Telugu, Malayalam, Vanakkam Tamil, Nomoshkaar Bengali, Nomoskar Assamese All these are common spoken greetings or salutations when people meet, and are forms of farewell when they depart Namaskar is considered slightly more formal than Namaste but both express deep respect Namaskar is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication However, the same hands folded gesture may be made wordlessly, or said without the folded hand gesture The word is derived from Sanskrit namah: to bow, reverential salutation, and respect, and te: "to you" Taken literally, it means "I bow to you"58 In Hinduism it means "I bow to the divine in you"5960 In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek the blessing of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders This custom is known as Pranāma

Other greetings include "Jai Jagannath" in Odia Language, "Ami Aschi" in Bengali,"Jai Shri Krishna" in Gujarati, "Ram Ram", and Sat Sri Akal Punjabi, used by followers of Sikhism, Jai Jinendra, a common greeting used across the Jain community, "Jai Bhim" used by Buddhist converts in Maharashtra after B R Ambedkar and "Nama Shivaya", "Jai ambe", "Jai Sri Ram" etc

These traditional forms of greeting may be absent in the world of business and in India's urban environment, where the handshake is a common form of greeting61


Main article: Festivals in India

India, being a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions The three national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti, are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India In addition, many Indian states and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri, Janmashtami, Diwali, Maha Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Holi, Rath Yatra, Ugadi, Onam, Vasant Panchami, Rakshabandhan, and Dussehra Several harvest festivals such as Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Raja sankaranti swinging festival are also fairly popular

Indian New year festival are celebrated in different part of India with unique style in different times Ugadi, Bihu, Gudhi Padwa, Puthandu, Pohela Boishakh, Vishu and Vishuva Sankranti are the New years festival of different part of India

Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions Notable examples include Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the country and Buddha Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists Sikh festivals, such as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab and Delhi where the two communities together form an overwhelming majority of the population Adding colours to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of India Nowruz is the most important festival among the Parsi community of India

Islam in India is the second largest religion with over 172 million Muslims, according to India's 2011 census16 The Islamic festivals which are observed and are declared public holiday in India are; Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha-Bakri Eid, Milad un Nabi, Muharram and Shab-e-Barat63 Some of the Indian states have declared regional holiday's for the particular regional popular festivals; such as Arba'een, Jumu'ah-tul-Wida and Shab-e-Qadar

Christianity is India's third largest religion With over 23 million Christians, of which 17 million are Roman Catholics, India is home to many Christian festivals The country celebrates Christmas and Good Friday as public holidays63

Regional and community fairs are also common festival in India For example, Pushkar fair of Rajasthan is one of the world's largest markets of cattle and livestock


See also: Wildlife of India, Animal husbandry in India, and Cattle in religion Cows depicted in the decorated gopuram of the Kapaleeshwarar temple in Chennai

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 tales64

In Hinduism, the cow is regarded as a symbol of ahimsa non-violence, mother goddess and bringer of good fortune and wealth65 For this reason, cows are revered in Hindu culture and feeding a cow is seen as an act of worship This is why beef remains a taboo food in mainstream Hindu and Jain society66

As of January 2012, cow remains a divisive and controversial topic in India Several states of India have passed laws to protect cows, while many states have no restrictions on the production and consumption of beef Some groups oppose the butchering of cows, while other secular groups argue that what kind of meat one eats ought to be a matter of personal choice in a democracy Madhya Pradesh enacted a law in January 2012, namely the Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh Sanshodhan Act, which makes cow slaughter a serious offence Gujarat, a western state of India, has the Animal Preservation Act, enacted in October 2011, that prohibits killing of cows along with buying, selling and transport of beef In contrast, Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh allow butchering of cattle with a fit-for-slaughter certificate In the states of West Bengal and Kerala, consumption of beef is not deemed an offence Contrary to stereotypes, a sizeable number of Hindus eat beef, and many argue that their scriptures, such as Vedic and Upanishadic texts do not prohibit its consumption In southern Indian state Kerala, for instance, beef accounts for nearly half of all meat consumed by all communities, including Hindus Sociologists theorise that the widespread consumption of cow meat in India is because it is a far cheaper source of animal protein for the poor than mutton or chicken, which retail at double the price For these reasons, India's beef consumption post-independence in 1947 has witnessed a much faster growth than any other kind of meat; currently, India is one of the five largest producer and consumer of cattle livestock meat in the world A beef ban has been made in Maharashtra and other states as of 2015 While states such as Madhya Pradesh are passing local laws to prevent cruelty to cows, other Indians are arguing "If the real objective is to prevent cruelty to animals, then why single out the cow when hundreds of other animals are maltreated"676869


Main article: Indian cuisine Indian cuisine is diverse, ranging from very spicy to very mild, varying with seasons in each region These reflect the local agriculture, regional climate, culinary innovations and cultural diversity Food in India is sometimes served in thali – a plate with rice, bread and a selection of sides Above are thali samples Nimmatnama-i Nasiruddin-Shahi Book of Recipes, written about 1500 CE, documents the fine art of making Kheer, a milk based dessert of India: Select the cows carefully; to get quality milk, pay attention to what the cows eat; feed them sugar canes; use this milk to make the best Kheer

Indian food is as diverse as India Indian cuisines use numerous ingredients, deploy a wide range of food preparation styles, cooking techniques and culinary presentation From salads to sauces, from vegetarian to meat, from spices to sensuous, from breads to desserts, Indian cuisine is invariably complex Harold McGee, a favourite of many Michelin-starred chefs, writes "for sheer inventiveness with milk itself as the primary ingredient, no country on earth can match India"70

I travel to India at least three to four times a year It's always inspirational There is so much to learn from India because each and every state is a country by itself and each has its own cuisine There are lots of things to learn about the different cuisines – it just amazes me I keep my mind open and like to explore different places and pick up different influences as I go along I don't actually think that there is a single state in India that I haven't visited  Indian food is a cosmopolitan cuisine that has so many ingredients I don't think any cuisine in the world has got so many influences the way that Indian food has It is a very rich cuisine and is very varied Every region in the world has their own sense of how Indian food should be perceived

— Atul Kochhar, the first Indian to receive two Michelin stars71

 it takes me back to the first Christmas I can remember, when the grandmother I hadn't yet met, who was Indian and lived in England, sent me a box For me it still carries the taste of strangeness and confusion and wonder

— Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking72 Some Indian confectionery desserts from hundreds of varieties In certain parts of India, these are called mithai or sweets Sugar and desserts have a long history in India: by about 500 BCE, people in India had developed the technology to produce sugar crystals In the local language, these crystals were called khanda खण्ड, which is the source of the word candy73

According to Sanjeev Kapoor, a member of Singapore Airlines' International Culinary Panel, Indian food has long been an expression of world cuisine Kapoor claims, "if you looked back in India's history and study the food that our ancestors ate, you will notice how much attention was paid to the planning and cooking of a meal Great thought was given to the texture and taste of each dish"74 One such historical record is Mānasollāsa, Sanskrit: मानसोल्लास, The Delight of Mind, written in the 12th century The book describes the need to change cuisine and food with seasons, various methods of cooking, the best blend of flavours, the feel of various foods, planning and style of dining amongst other things75

India is known for its love for food and spices Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the local produce, cultural diversity, and varied demographics of the country Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into five categories – northern, southern, eastern, western, and north-eastern The diversity of Indian cuisine is characterised by differing use of many spices and herbs, a wide assortment of recipes and cooking techniques Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include chicken, goat, beef both cow and buffalo, pork, lamb, fish, egg and other meats Fish-based cuisines are common in eastern states of India, particularly West Bengal and the western state of Kerala76

Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge Varied uses of spices are an integral part of certain food preparations, and are used to enhance the flavour of a dish and create unique flavours and aromas Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Central Asians, Arabs, Mughals, and European colonists Sweets are also very popular among Indians, particularly in Bengal where both Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims distribute sweets to mark joyous occasions

Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines across the globe77 In most Indian restaurants outside India, the menu does not do justice to the enormous variety of Indian cuisine available – the most common cuisine served on the menu would be Punjabi cuisine chicken tikka masala is a very popular dish in the United Kingdom There do exist some restaurants serving cuisines from other regions of India, although these are few and far between 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 Discovery78 The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the "pan-Asian" dish79

Regional Indian cuisine continues to evolve A fusion of East Asian and Western cooking methods with traditional cuisines, along with regional adaptations of fast food are prominent in major Indian cities80

The cuisine of Telangana consists of the Telugu cuisine, of Telangana's Telugu people as well as Hyderabadi cuisine also known as Nizami cuisine, of Telangana's Hyderabadi Muslim community8182 Hyderabadi food is based heavily on non-vegetarian ingredients while, Telugu food is a mix of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients Telugu food is rich in spices and chillies are abundantly used The food also generally tends to be more on the tangy side with tamarind and lime juice both used liberally as souring agents Rice is the staple food of Telugu people Starch is consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups or broths8384 Vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are both popular Hyderabadi cuisine includes popular delicacies such as Biryani, Haleem, Baghara baingan and Kheema, while Hyderabadi day to day dishes see some commonalities with Telanganite Telugu food, with its use of tamarind, rice, and lentils, along with meat83 Yogurt is a common addition to meals, as a way of tempering spiciness85


Main article: Clothing in India Illustration of different styles of Sari, Gagra Choli and Shalwar Kameez worn by women in India

Traditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of the country and is influenced by local culture, geography, climate and rural/urban settings Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi or panche in Kannada for men Stitched clothes are also popular such as churidar or salwar-kameez for women, with dupatta long scarf thrown over shoulder completing the outfit Salwar is often loose fitting, while churidar is a tighter cut86

Indian women perfect their sense of charm and fashion with make up and ornaments Bindi, mehendi, earrings, bangles and other jewelry are common On special occasions, such as marriage ceremonies and festivals, women may wear cheerful colours with various ornaments made with gold, silver or other regional stones and gems Bindi is often an essential part of a Hindu woman's make up Worn on their forehead, some consider the bindi as an auspicious mark Traditionally, the red bindi was worn only by married Hindu women, and coloured bindi was worn by single women, but now all colours and glitter has become a part of women's fashion Some women wear sindoor – a traditional red or orange-red powder vermilion in the parting of their hair locally called mang Sindoor is the traditional mark of a married woman for Hindus Single Hindu women do not wear sindoor; neither do over 1 million Indian women from religions other than Hindu and agnostics/atheists who may be married86 The make up and clothing styles differ regionally between the Hindu groups, and also by climate or religion, with Christians preferring Western and Muslim preferring the Arabic styles87 For men, stitched versions include kurta-pyjama and European-style trousers and shirts In urban and semi-urban centres, men and women of all religious backgrounds, can often be seen in jeans, trousers, shirts, suits, kurtas and variety of other fashions88

Languages and literatureedit

Main article: Indian literature


Language families in India and its neighbouring countries India has 22 official languages – 15 of which are Indo-European The 2001 census of India found 122 first languages in active use The second map shows the distribution of the Indo-European languages throughout the world Rigveda padapatha manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century After a scribal benediction "śrīgaṇéśāyanamaḥ ;; Aum3 ;;", the first line has the opening words of RV111 agniṃ ; iḷe ; puraḥ-hitaṃ ; yajñasya ; devaṃ ; ṛtvijaṃ The Vedic accent is marked by underscores and vertical overscores in red Literary records suggest India had interacted in languages of other ancient civilisations This inscription is from Indian emperor Ashoka, carved in stone about 250 BCE, found in Afghanistan Inscriptions are in Greek and Aramaic, with ideas of non-violence against men and all living beings, as the doctrine of Eusebeia – spiritual maturity
Numerous words from India entered English vocabulary during the British colonial era8990 Examples: bandana, bangles, bungalow and shampoo

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit 

— Sir William Jones, 178691

The Rigvedic Sanskrit is one of the oldest attestations of any Indo-Aryan language, and one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family The discovery of Sanskrit by early European explorers of India led to the development of comparative Philology The scholars of the 18th century were struck by the far reaching similarity of Sanskrit, both in grammar and vocabulary, to the classical languages of Europe Intensive scientific studies that followed have established that Sanskrit and many Indian derivative languages belong to the family which includes English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Celtic, Greek, Baltic, Armenian, Persian, Tocharian and other Indo-European languages92

The evolution of language within India may be distinguished over three periods: old, middle and modern Indo-Aryan The classical form of old Indo-Aryan was sanskrit meaning polished, cultivated and correct, in distinction to Prakrit – the practical language of the migrating masses evolving without concern to proper pronunciation or grammar, the structure of language changing as those masses mingled, settled new lands and adopted words from people of other native languages Prakrita became middle Indo-Aryan leading to Pali the language of early Buddhists and Ashoka era in 200–300 BCE, Prakrit the language of Jain philosophers and Apabhramsa the language blend at the final stage of middle Indo-Aryan It is Apabhramsa, scholars claim,92 that flowered into Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi and many other languages now in use in India's north, east and west All of these Indian languages have roots and structure similar to Sanskrit, to each other and to other Indo-European languages Thus we have in India three thousand years of continuous linguistic history recorded and preserved in literary documents This enables scholars to follow language evolution and observe how, by changes hardly noticeable from generation to generation, an original language alters into descendant languages that are now barely recognisable as the same92

Sanskrit has had a profound impact on the languages and literature of India Hindi, India's most spoken language, is a "Sanskritised register" of the Khariboli dialect In addition, all modern Indo-Aryan languages, Munda languages and Dravidian languages, have borrowed many words either directly from Sanskrit tatsama words, or indirectly via middle Indo-Aryan languages tadbhava words93 Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated to constitute roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages,94 and the literary forms of Dravidian Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada Tamil, although to a slightly smaller extent, has also been significantly influenced by Sanskrit93 Part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, the Bengali language arose from the eastern Middle Indic languages and its roots are traced to the 5th-century BCE Ardhamagadhi language9596

Tamil, one of India's major classical language, descends from Proto-Dravidian languages spoken around the third millennium BCE in peninsular India The earliest inscriptions of Tamil have been found on pottery dating back to 500 BC Tamil literature has existed for over two thousand years97 and the earliest epigraphic records found date from around the 3rd century BCE98

Another major Classical Dravidian language, Kannada is attested epigraphically from the mid-1st millennium AD, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 9th- to 10th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty Pre-old Kannada or Purava Hazhe-Gannada was the language of Banavasi in the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods and hence has a history of over 2000 years99100101102 The Ashoka rock edict found at Brahmagiri dated 230 BCE has been suggested to contain a word in identifiable Kannada103

Odia is India's 6th classical language in addition to Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam104 It is also one of the 22 official languages in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution Oriya's importance to Indian culture, from ancient times, is evidenced by its presence in Ashoka's Rock Edict X, dated to be from 2nd century BC105106

In addition to Indo-European and Dravidian languages, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman languages are in use in India107108 The 2011 Linguistic Survey of India states that India has over 780 languages and 66 different scripts, with its state of Arunachal Pradesh with 90 languages109


Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra

The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are the oldest preserved and well-known epics of India Versions have been adopted as the epics of Southeast Asian countries like Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books kāṇḍas and 500 cantos sargas,110 and tells the story of Rama an incarnation or Avatar of the Hindu preserver-god Vishnu, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana This epic played a pivotal role in establishing the role of dhárma as a principal ideal guiding force for Hindu way of life111 The earliest parts of the Mahabharata text date to 400 BC112 and is estimated to have reached its final form by the early Gupta period c 4th century AD113 Other regional variations of these, as well as unrelated epics include the Tamil Ramavataram, Kannada Pampa Bharata, Hindi Ramacharitamanasa, and Malayalam Adhyathmaramayanam In addition to these two great Indian epics, there are five major epics in the classical Tamil language — Silappatikaram, Manimekalai, Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi and Valayapathi-kundalakesi

Performing artsedit


Main article: Dance in India Dance in India include classical above, semiclassical, folk and tribal

Let drama and dance Nātya, नाट्य be the fifth vedic scripture Combined with an epic story, tending to virtue, wealth, joy and spiritual freedom, it must contain the significance of every scripture, and forward every art

— First chapter of Nātyaśāstra, sometime between 200 BCE – 200 CE114115

India has had a long romance with the art of dance The Hindu Sanskrit texts Nātyaśāstra Science of Dance and Abhinaya Darpana Mirror of Gesture are estimated to be from 200 BCE to early centuries of the 1st millennium CE115116117

The Indian art of dance as taught in these ancient books, according to Ragini Devi, is the expression of inner beauty and the divine in man118 It is a deliberate art, nothing is left to chance, each gesture seeks to communicate the ideas, each facial expression the emotions

Indian dance includes eight classical dance forms, many in narrative forms with mythological elements The eight classical forms accorded classical dance status by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama are: bharatanatyam of the state of Tamil Nadu, kathak of Uttar Pradesh, kathakali and mohiniattam of Kerala, kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh, yakshagana of Karnataka, manipuri of Manipur, odissi orissi of the state of Odisha and the sattriya of Assam119120

In addition to the formal arts of dance, Indian regions have a strong free form, folksy dance tradition Some of the folk dances include the bhangra of Punjab; the bihu of Assam; the zeliang of Nagaland; the chhau of Jharkhand and Bengal; the Ghumura Dance, Gotipua, Mahari dance and Dalkhai of Odisha; the qauwwalis, birhas and charkulas of Uttar Pradesh; the jat-jatin, nat-natin and saturi of Bihar; the ghoomar of Rajasthan and Haryana; the dandiya and garba of Gujarat; the kolattam of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; the yakshagana of Karnataka; lavani of Maharashtra; Dekhnni of Goa Recent developments include adoption of international dance forms particularly in the urban centres of India, and the extension of Indian classical dance arts by the Kerala Christian community, to tell stories from the Bible121

Drama and theatreedit

Main article: Theatre in India Kathakali one of classical theatre forms of India

Indian drama and theatre has a long history alongside its music and dance Kalidasa's plays like Shakuntala and Meghadoota are some of the older dramas, following those of Bhasa One of the oldest surviving theatre traditions of the world is the 2,000-year-old Kutiyattam of Kerala It strictly follows the Natya Shastra122 Nātyāchārya Māni Mādhava Chākyār is credited for reviving the age old drama tradition from extinction He was known for mastery of Rasa Abhinaya He started to perform the Kalidasa plays like Abhijñānaśākuntala, Vikramorvaśīya and Mālavikāgnimitra; Bhasa's Swapnavāsavadatta and Pancharātra; Harsha's Nagananda123124


Images of musical instruments drawn by Pierre Sonnerat, the French explorer, in 1782 during his voyage through India Main article: Music of India

Music is an integral part of India's culture Natyasastra, a 2000-year-old Sanskrit text, describes five systems of taxonomy to classify musical instruments125 One of these ancient Indian systems classifies musical instruments into four groups according to four primary sources of vibration: strings, membranes, cymbals, and air According to Reis Flora, this is similar to the Western theory of organology Archeologists have also reported the discovery of a 3000-year-old, 20-key, carefully shaped polished basalt lithophone in the highlands of Odisha126

The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda 1000 BC that are still sung in certain Vedic Śrauta sacrifices; this is the earliest account of Indian musical hymns127 It proposed a tonal structure consisting of seven notes, which were named, in descending order, as Krusht, Pratham, Dwitiya, Tritiya, Chaturth, Mandra and Atiswār These refer to the notes of a flute, which was the only fixed frequency instrument The Samaveda, and other Hindu texts, heavily influenced India's classical music tradition, which is known today in two distinct styles: Carnatic and Hindustani music Both the Carnatic music and Hindustani music systems are based on the melodic base known as Rāga, sung to a rhythmic cycle known as Tāla; these principles were refined in the nātyaśāstra 200 BC and the dattilam 300 AD128

The current music of India includes multiple varieties of religious, classical, folk, filmi, rock and pop music and dance Appeal of traditional classical music and dance is on rapid decline, especially among the younger generation

Prominent contemporary Indian musical forms included filmi and Indipop Filmi refers to the wide range of music written and performed for mainstream Indian cinema, primarily Bollywood, and accounts for more than 70 percent of all music sales in the country129 Indipop is one of the most popular contemporary styles of Indian music which is either a fusion of Indian folk, classical or Sufi music with Western musical traditions130

Visual artsedit

Main article: Indian art


Main article: Indian painting The Jataka tales from Ajanta Caves

Cave paintings from Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora and Sittanavasal and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism Most early and medieval art in India is Hindu, Buddhist or Jain A freshly made coloured floor design Rangoli is still a common sight outside the doorstep of many mostly South Indian Indian homes Raja Ravi Varma is one of the classical painters from medieval India

Pattachitra, Madhubani painting, Mysore painting, Rajput painting, Tanjore painting, Mughal painting are some notable Genres of Indian Art; while Nandalal Bose, M F Husain, S H Raza, Geeta Vadhera, Jamini Roy and B Venkatappa131 are some modern painters Among the present day artists, Atul Dodiya, Bose Krishnamacnahri, Devajyoti Ray and Shibu Natesan represent a new era of Indian art where global art shows direct amalgamation with Indian classical styles These recent artists have acquired international recognition Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, Mysore Palace has on display a few good Indian paintings


Main article: Sculpture in India The 5th-century Buddhist vishvakarma cave at Ellora, Maharashtra Marble Sculpture of female, c 1450, Rajasthan

The first sculptures in India date back to the Indus Valley civilisation, where stone and bronze figures have been discovered Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism developed further, India produced some extremely intricate bronzes as well as temple carvings Some huge shrines, such as the one at Ellora were not constructed by using blocks but carved out of solid rock

Sculptures produced in the northwest, in stucco, schist, or clay, display a very strong blend of Indian and Classical Hellenistic or possibly even Greco-Roman influence The pink sandstone sculptures of Mathura evolved almost simultaneously During the Gupta period 4th to 6th centuries sculpture reached a very high standard in execution and delicacy in modeling These styles and others elsewhere in India evolved leading to classical Indian art that contributed to Buddhist and Hindu sculpture throughout Southeast Central and East Asia


Main article: Architecture of India

Indian architecture encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, constantly absorbing new ideas The result is an evolving range of architectural production that nonetheless retains a certain amount of continuity across history Some of its earliest production are found in the Indus Valley Civilisation 2600–1900 BC which is characterised by well planned cities and houses Religion and kingship do not seem to have played an important role in the planning and layout of these towns

During the period of the Mauryan and Gupta empires and their successors, several Buddhist architectural complexes, such as the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa were built Later on, South India produced several Hindu temples like Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur built by Raja Raja Chola, the Sun Temple, Konark, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, and the Buddha stupa Chinna Lanja dibba and Vikramarka kota dibba at Bhattiprolu Angkor Wat, Borobudur and other Buddhist and Hindu temples indicate strong Indian influence on South East Asian architecture, as they are built in styles almost identical to traditional Indian religious buildings

The traditional system of Vaastu Shastra serves as India's version of Feng Shui, influencing town planning, architecture, and ergonomics It is unclear which system is older, but they contain certain similarities Feng Shui is more commonly used throughout the world Though Vastu is conceptually similar to Feng Shui in that it also tries to harmonise the flow of energy, also called life-force or Prana in Sanskrit and Chi/Ki in Chinese/Japanese, through the house, it differs in the details, such as the exact directions in which various objects, rooms, materials, etc are to be placed

With the advent of Islamic influence from the west, Indian architecture was adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Gol Gumbaz, Qutub Minar, Red Fort of Delhi are creations of this era, and are often used as the stereotypical symbols of India The colonial rule of the British Empire saw the development of Indo-Saracenic style, and mixing of several other styles, such as European Gothic The Victoria Memorial or the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus are notable examples

Indian architecture has influenced eastern and southeastern Asia, due to the spread of Buddhism A number of Indian architectural features such as the temple mound or stupa, temple spire or shikhara, temple tower or pagoda and temple gate or torana, have become famous symbols of Asian culture, used extensively in East Asia and South East Asia The central spire is also sometimes called a vimanam The southern temple gate, or gopuram is noted for its intricacy and majesty

Contemporary Indian architecture is more cosmopolitan Cities are extremely compact and densely populated Mumbai's Nariman Point is famous for its Art Deco buildings Recent creations such as the Lotus Temple, and the various modern urban developments of India like Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh, are notable

Sports and martial artsedit


Main article: Sports in India
Sports in India

Field hockey was considered to be the national game of India, but this has been recently denied by the Government of India, clarifying on a Right to Information Act RTI filed that India has not declared any sport as the national game134135136 At a time when it was especially popular, the India national field hockey team won the 1975 Men's Hockey World Cup, and 8 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals at the Olympic Games However, field hockey in India no longer has the following that it once did136

Cricket is considered the most popular sport in India135 The India national cricket team won the 1983 Cricket World Cup, the 2011 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy and shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka Domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the Challenger Series In addition, BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition

Football is popular in the Indian state of West Bengal The city of Kolkata is the home to the largest stadium in India, and the second largest stadium in the world by capacity, Salt Lake Stadium The city of joy is a centre of football activity in India and is home to top national clubs such as Mohun Bagan AC, Kingfisher East Bengal FC, Prayag United SC, and the Mohammedan Sporting Club137

Chess is commonly believed to have originated in northwestern India during the Gupta empire,138139140141 where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturanga Other games which originated in India and continue to remain popular in wide parts of northern India include Kabaddi, Gilli-danda, and Kho kho Traditional southern Indian games include Snake boat race and Kuttiyum kolum

In 2011, India inaugurated a privately built Buddh International Circuit, its first motor racing circuit The 514-kilometre circuit is in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi The first Formula One Indian Grand Prix event was hosted here in October 2011142143

Indian martial artsedit

Main article: Indian martial arts Kalaripayattu, is an ancient Indian martial arts that originated in Kerala Yoga originated in India Patañjali, in India's ancient books, suggests yoga's goal is to help one focus, reflect upon, know and express one's highest self144145 India's cultural journey with yoga is now popular in many parts of the world

One of the best known forms of ancient Indian martial arts is the Kalarippayattu from Kerala This ancient fighting style originated in southern India in the 12th century BCE and is regarded as one of the oldest surviving martial arts146 In this form martial arts, various stages of physical training include ayurvedic massage with sesame oil to impart suppleness to the body uzichil; a series of sharp body movements so as to gain control over various parts of the body miapayattu; and, complex sword fighting techniques paliyankamcitation needed Silambam, which was developed around 200 AD, traces its roots to the Sangam period in southern India147 Silambam is unique among Indian martial arts because it uses complex footwork techniques kaaladi, including a variety of spinning styles A bamboo staff is used as the main weapon147 The ancient Tamil Sangam literature mentions that between 400 BCE and 600 CE, soldiers from southern India received special martial arts training which revolved primarily around the use of spear vel, sword val and shield kedaham148

Among eastern states, Paika akhada is a martial art found in Odisha Paika akhada, or paika akhara, roughly translates as "warrior gymnasium" or "warrior school"149 In ancient times, these were training schools of the peasant militia Today's paika akhada teach physical exercises and martial arts in addition to the paika dance, a performance art with rhythmic movements and weapons being hit in time to the drum It incorporates acrobatic maneuvres and use of the khanda straight sword, patta guantlet-sword, sticks, and other weapons

In northern India, the musti yuddha evolved in 1100 AD and focussed on mental, physical and spiritual training150 In addition, the Dhanur Veda tradition was an influential fighting arts style which considered the bow and the arrow to be the supreme weapons The Dhanur Veda was first described in the 5th-century BCE Viṣṇu Purāṇa146 and is also mentioned in both of the major ancient Indian epics, the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata A distinctive factor of Indian martial arts is the heavy emphasis laid on meditation dhyāna as a tool to remove fear, doubt and anxiety151

Indian martial arts techniques have had a profound impact on other martial arts styles across Asia The 3rd-century BCE Yoga Sutras of Patanjali taught how to meditate single-mindedly on points located inside one's body, which was later used in martial arts, while various mudra finger movements were taught in Yogacara Buddhism These elements of yoga, as well as finger movements in the nata dances, were later incorporated into various martial arts152 According to some historical accounts, the South Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma was one of the main founders of the Shaolin Kungfu153

Popular mediaedit


Main article: Television in India See also: List of Indian television stations Bollywood actors at International Indian Film Academy Awards, Toronto 2011

Indian television started off in 1959 in New Delhi with tests for educational telecasts154155 Indian small screen programming started off in the mid-1970s At that time there was only one national channel Doordarshan, which was government owned 1982 saw revolution in TV programming in India, with the New Delhi Asian games, India saw the colour version of TV, that year The Ramayana and Mahabharat were some among the popular television series produced By the late 1980s more and more people started to own television sets Though there was a single channel, television programming had reached saturation Hence the government opened up another channel which had part national programming and part regional This channel was known as DD 2 later DD Metro Both channels were broadcast terrestrially

In 1991, the government liberated its markets, opening them up to cable television Since then, there has been a spurt in the number of channels available Today, Indian small screen is a huge industry by itself, and has thousands of programmes in all the states of India The small screen has produced numerous celebrities of their own kind some even attaining national fame for themselves TV soaps are extremely popular with housewives as well as working women, and even men of all kinds Some lesser known actors have found success in Bollywood Indian TV now has many of the same channels as Western TV, including stations such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, HBO, FX, and MTV India


Main article: Cinema of India

Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs in Bengali Cinema, Oriya film industry, Assamese, 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

India has produced many cinema-makers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, J C Daniel, Kasinathuni Viswanath, Ram Gopal Varma, Bapu, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, K Vishwanath, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N Karun, Girish Kasaravalli, Shekhar Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shyam Benegal, Shankar Nag, Girish Karnad, G V Iyer, Mani Ratnam, and K Balachander see also: Indian film directors With the opening up of the economy in 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

Perceptions of Indian cultureedit

Main article: Stereotypes of South Asians

India's diversity has inspired many writers to pen their perceptions of the country's culture These writings paint a complex and often conflicting picture of the culture of India India is one of the ethnically and religiously diverse countries in the world The concept of 'Indian culture' is a very complex and complicated matter Because Indian citizens are divided into various ethnic, religious, caste, linguistic and regional groups It makes the realities of "Indianness" extremely complicated This is why the conception of Indian identity poses certain difficulties and presupposes a series of assumptions about what concisely the expression "Indian" means However, despite its vast heterogeneous composition, the creation of some sort of typical or shared Indian culture is the result of some inherent internal forces- such as a robust Constitution, universal adult franchise, flexible federal structure, secular educational policy etc and by certain historical events- such as Indian Independence Movement, Partition, wars against Pakistan etc

According to industry consultant Eugene M Makar, for example, traditional Indian culture is defined by a relatively strict social hierarchy He also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society156 This is reinforced, Makar notes, by the way many believe gods and spirits have an integral and functional role in determining their life Several differences such as religion divide the culture However, a far more powerful division is the traditional Hindu bifurcation into non-polluting and polluting occupations Strict social taboos have governed these groups for thousands of years, claims Makar In recent years, particularly in cities, some of these lines have blurred and sometimes even disappeared He writes important family relations extend as far as gotra, the mainly patrilinear lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth In rural areas & sometimes in urban areas as well, it is common that three or four generations of the family live under the same roof The patriarch often resolves family issues156

Others have a different perception of Indian culture According to an interview with CK Prahalad by Des Dearlove, author of many best selling business books, modern India is a country of very diverse cultures with many languages, religions and traditions Children begin by coping and learning to accept and assimilate in this diversity Prahalad – who was born in India and grew up there – claimed, in the interview, that Indians, like everyone else in the world, want to be treated as unique, as individuals, want to express themselves and seek innovation157 In another report, Nancy Lockwood of Society for Human Resource Management, the world's largest human resources association with members in 140 countries, writes that in the past two decades or so, social change in India is in dramatic contrast to the expectations from traditional Indian culture These changes have led to Indian families giving education opportunities to girls, accepting women working outside home, pursuing a career, and opening the possibility for women to attain managerial roles in corporate India Lockwood claims that change is slow, yet the scale of cultural change can be sensed from the fact that of India's 397 million workers, 124 million are now women The issues in India with women empowerment are similar to those elsewhere in the world158

According to Amartya Sen, the India born Nobel Laureate in Economics, the culture of modern India is a complex blend of its historical traditions, influences from the effects of colonialism over centuries and current Western culture – both collaterally and dialectically Sen observes that external images of India in the West often tend to emphasise the difference – real or imagined – between India and the West159 There is a considerable inclination in the Western countries to distance and highlight the differences in Indian culture from the mainstream of Western traditions, rather than discover and show similarities Western writers and media usually misses, in important ways, crucial aspects of Indian culture and traditions The deep-seated heterogeneity of Indian traditions, in different parts of India, is neglected in these homogenised description of India The perceptions of Indian culture, by those who weren't born and raised in India, tend to be one of at least three categories, writes Sen:

  • Exoticist approach: it concentrates on the wondrous aspects of the culture of India The focus of this approach of understanding Indian culture is to present the different, the strange and as Hegel put it, "a country that has existed for millennia in the imaginations of the Europeans"
  • Magisterial approach: it assumes a sense of superiority and guardianship necessary to deal with India, a country that James Mill's imperialist history thought of as grotesquely primitive culture While great many British observers did not agree with such views of India, and some non-British ones did, it is an approach that contributes to some confusion about the culture of India
  • Curatorial approach: it attempts to observe, classify and record the diversity of Indian culture in different parts of India The curators do not look only for the strange, are not weighed by political priorities, and tend to be more free from stereotypes The curatorial approach, nevertheless, have an inclination to see Indian culture as more special and extraordinarily interesting than it actually may be

The curatorial approach, one inspired by systematic curiosity for the cultural diversity of India within India, is mostly absent

Susan Bayly, in her book, observes that there is considerable dispute in India and Orientalist scholars on perceived Indian culture She acknowledges that many dispute claims of pervasiveness of caste and strict social hierarchy in modern India Bayly notes that much of the Indian subcontinent was populated by people for whom the formal distinctions of caste and strict social hierarchies were of only limited importance in their lifestyles160

According to Rosser, an American sociologist, Americans of South Asian origins feel the Western perception of the culture of India has numerous stereotypes Rosser notes that the discourse in much of the United States about the culture of India is rarely devoted to independent India People quickly make sweeping and flawed metaphysical assumptions about its religion and culture, but are far more circumspect when evaluating civil society and political culture in modern India It is as if the value of South Asia resides only in its ancient contributions to human knowledge whereas its pathetic attempts to modernise or develop are to be winked at and patronised161 Rosser conducted numerous interviews and summarised the comments The study reports a stark contrast between Western perceptions of the culture of India, versus the direct experience of the interviewed people For example:

The presentation of South Asians is a standard pedagogic approach which runs quickly from the "Cradle of Civilisation"—contrasting the Indus Valley with Egypt and Mesopotamia—on past the Aryans, who were somehow our ancestors— to the poverty stricken, superstitious, polytheistic, caste ridden Hindu way of life  and then somehow magically culminates with a eulogy of Mahatma Gandhi A typical textbook trope presents the standard Ancient India Meets the Age of Expansion Approach with a colour photo of the Taj Mahal There may be a side bar on ahimsa or a chart of connecting circles graphically explaining samsara and reincarnation, or illustrations of the four stages of life or the Four Noble Truths Amid the dearth of real information there may be found an entire page dedicated to a deity such as Indra or Varuna, who admittedly are rather obscure vis-à-vis the beliefs of most modern Hindus

— A South Asian in America161


In certain Indian cultures, Jagaran or Jagara is the act of intentionally staying awake162

See alsoedit

  • India portal
  • North Indian Culture
  • South Indian culture
  • Culture of the Indian subcontinent
  • Etiquette of Indian dining
  • Indian religions
  • Lists of Indians by state
  • South Asian ethnic groups
  • Atithi Devo Bhav
  • Cultural Zones of India
  • Glossary of Indian culture


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  • Natalia Lidova 2014 "Natyashastra" Oxford University Press doi:101093/obo/9780195399318-0071 
  • Natalia Lidova 1994 Drama and Ritual of Early Hinduism Motilal Banarsidass ISBN 978-81-208-1234-5 
  • Williams, Drid 2004 "In the Shadow of Hollywood Orientalism: Authentic East Indian Dancing" PDF Visual Anthropology Routledge 17 1: 69–98 doi:101080/08949460490274013 
  • Tarla Mehta 1995 Sanskrit Play Production in Ancient India Motilal Banarsidass ISBN 978-81-208-1057-0 
  • Emmie Te Nijenhuis 1974 Indian Music: History and Structure BRILL Academic ISBN 90-04-03978-3 
  • Kapila Vatsyayan 2001 Bharata, the Nāṭyaśāstra Sahitya Akademi ISBN 978-81-260-1220-6 
  • Kapila Vatsyayan 1977 Classical Indian dance in literature and the arts Sangeet Natak Akademi OCLC 233639306 , Table of Contents

Further readingedit

  • Public Broadcasting System, USA 2008 The story of India – history and culture
  • Sharma, Ram Sharan 2005, India's Ancient Past, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-568785-9
  • Bajpai, Shiva 2011 The History of India – From Ancient to Modern Times, Himalayan Academy Publications Hawaii, USA, ISBN 978-1-934145-38-8
  • AL Basham, The Wonder That was India, ISBN 0-330-43909-X, Picador London
  • Auboyer, Jeannine 2002 Daily Life in Ancient India, from 200 BC to 700 AD originally published in French in 1961, Phoenix Press, London ISBN 1-84212-591-5
  • Dalmia, Vasudha and Rashmi Sadana editors, The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-51625-9
  • Grihault, Nicki Culture Smart! India: A Quick Guide to Customs and Etiquette ISBN 1-85733-305-5
  • Henderson, Carol E 2002 Culture and Customs of India Greenwood Publishing Group ISBN 0-313-30513-7
  • Naipaul, VS, India: A Million Mutinies Now, ISBN 0-7493-9920-1
  • Nilakanta Sastri, A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-560686-8
  • Tully, Mark No Full Stops in India ISBN 0-14-010480-1
  • Patra, Avinash 2012, The Spiritual Life and Culture of India, Oxford University Press, England

External linksedit

  • Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Links to some cultural sites and available grants for understanding the cultural diversity of India
  • India – a photojournal of its culture
  • Maison de L'inde An English language website in France Cité Universitaire dedicated to Culture of India
  • AHK Deutsch-Indische Handelskammer An English language website by Indo-German Chamber of Commerce with a chapter on Culture of India
  • Society for Promotion of Indian Art and Culture amongst Youth SPIC MACAY
  • SWEDEN-INDIA PROJECT A Sweden-based effort to encourage better understanding of Culture of India, and of other cultures in India
  • India and World Cultural Heritage A UNESCO site describing cultural heritage sites of India
  • India's intangible cultural heritage Another UNESCO site dedicated to Indian dance and other cultural heritage
  • CCRT Centre for Cultural Resource & Training GOI

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