Friday, December 16, 2011

Culture Of India

The History of India's culture: Ancient civilization in India reveals marvelous facts about our heritage. It is a eye opener as to how kingdoms ruled and how people went about life in a logical way. Though medieval, it is actually amazing to find how people transacted and went about building dams and tended to the chief occupation which was agriculture. Dance and rituals were always a part of Indian culture and this was the chief mode of entertainment.

 Indian culture is also about respecting elders, honoring heroes and cherishing love. It is a land of aspirations, achievements and self reliance. Indian culture has a very high level of tolerance and hence the advent of so many external cultures was not restricted. Adaptation to any culture or embracing a religion was always the democratic culture. Indian history is about war heroes during Indus valley civilization and the initial time when currency was coined. Indian history talks a lot about self reliance especially in terms of food and agricultural produce. This was the great effort put in by the farmers and support received through irrigation. The modern agriculture also shows a lot of indigenous methods of preserving the produce. The Chola dynasty, the great King Emperor Ashoka and the secular era of Emperor Akbar will always be green in our memory. Several books are written on the rich Indian culture wherein the saints preserved the Vedas and scriptures.

There are shlokas and mantras i.e. chants that can evoke positive energy and revoke enthusiasm in life. The rich culture of yoga as a part of life and the goodness of ayurveda has now got an universal lifestyle approach. Our roots are strong and despite the westernization and access to technology, the distinct Indianness is still maintained whilst celebrating Diwali or observing the Shravan fast. This is also believed to be a land of Lord Rama which is Ayodhya or the birthplace of Sri Krishna is considered as Mathura. The birth of Sikh religion and the reverence felt by all Indians is still intact. Indians are extremely secular and especially in the metros there is seamless blending of Indians during Xmas and Id.

Attires in Indian culture : Ethnic charm is exuded in simple outfits in India. The tropical climate is well adapted to the range of muslins and cottons. The mixed variety in cotton goes from viscose, polycot and also cotton silk which has a sheen of its own. Attires are very much about the region and climate. The Himalayan costume is suited for the environment where the dress is a blanket wrap in red and black secured with a ethnic pin. The ornaments or jewelry is a festive adornment with a big red bindi to complete the outfit.

The sari happens to be the most versatile drape with its amazing styles of draping and design. The sari is the traditional dress of India which also modifies as per material, drape and style with each region. This has also gone up to international drape style followed by ranking designers on the ramp shows. The chungari sari of the south has the tie and dye pattern that finds its counterpart in the bandhi print of Gujarat. There are embroidery types that seem to be the intrinsic talent of certain regions.

The cardigans and shawls are hand-woven from the North especially the Himachal and Arunchal belt. This displays the rich handicraft culture of India. The modernization in winter wear is seen with details like pockets, zippers, blends of fabrics and easy feel wear. The gota work of Rajashtan and Punjab is skilled golden zari strips woven or fixed on to the main garment like a sari or the dupatta. The most comfortable dress is the salwar kameez that radiates Indianness and is also comfortable.

The south Indian Kerala set-saree is the beautiful print in cream and golden which can be teamed with colored blouses. The navvari sari or the nine yard drape of Mahrasthra is usually found in leaf green color that is symbolic of the newly married bride. The colors also seem to be in mauve, red or blues and the sarees happen as Narayan peth, paithani and various other Belgaum prints.

The padavai is the ghagra choli for young girls in the south that is incomplete without the gold jewelry especially the kaashi gold chain and jhumki earrings. This is also modified as ghagra choli is simple cottons for daily wear in the villages and designed as the lehenga choli in designer wear in the metros.

Values in India : Tradition in India is about values that transcend down generations automatically. These are genetic traits and simplicity is the main ingredient. Ancient culture believed in a lot of dogmas and rituals that can be termed as false beliefs and Indians are an intelligent lot to traverse these paths and modify the social requirements. Indians are highly flexible in the sense they would like to imbibe the changes dictated by western influence and yet clearly affirm their belief in traditions.

It is customary to respect elders and touch their feet as to seek their blessings. Occasions or festivals demand a lot of participation in terms of rangoli drawing, diyas and an array of yummy treats made in the authentic variety as per the caste and geography. Hindu rituals are a lot about song and dance and each family has a natural way to adjust to these formats. It is a ritual to pray to the Goddess of learning Ma Saraswathi to achieve success. Similarly business people always insist on drawing the Swastika which marks prosperity and worship the Goddess of wealth.

With the advent of technology and women emancipation there is a trend to mingle free with the western concepts of dress, belief, work and also get into a secular concept. But one can feel a distinct Indianness and most of our brethren abroad miss their homeland. Indians all over the world are known for their hospitality and high level of tolerance. Their adaptation power is high and hence they are able to scale heights in the international arena. Putting oneself on the global map, Indians are seeking new vistas of communicating their beliefs and tradition. The gift of health and well being through yoga and meditation is a great source of Vedas in the rich Hindu tradition which has actually benefited the world.

The values in India is about living life with a zest and observing the belief that there is one God prevailing despite so many religions.
Respecting elders, understanding cross culture traditions, free mingling to accommodate tolerance, staying interested in rural welfare are the values of India. The artifacts, cuisine handicrafts, attire and lifestyle of the rural folks is still followed and preserved by Indians.

Family Culture of India : Family is about joy and sharing. In India, the family culture is all about love and patience. A girl weds into a family and adjusts herself seamlessly to the rituals, routine and cuisine. Of late, one can see a lot of love marriages i.e. cross border mingling which is also being accepted by the elders in the family. Association with religious beliefs and sects is also followed by families as many families believe in a particular Guru or saint who guides them in their spiritual path. Families are also getting nuclear owing to independent lifestyle preference and also the concept where in both husband and wife is working and has demanding careers. This is quite common in metros where families are independent in their upbringing and yet love and respect the elders who reside separately. The earlier homes housed themselves together in very large families where one can actually see three or four generations put up together.

Certain families observe a matriarchal concept i.e. the groom resides in the house of the bride or also follows a tradition as per the bride’s ancestors. Generally India is patriarchal in the sense the children get the surname of the father and the wife changes her surname to follow that of the husbands. It is also a tradition in certain families that the wife changes her maiden name but again this concept is also changing. Indian families are very accommodating and willing to accept change. It is a concept to observe the karva chauth or the raksha bandhan with great aplomb. There is an occasion for gifting and seeking the blessings of elders. It is important to respect and hold certain family traditions which are unique in terms of cooking, rituals and beliefs. Families give a lot of importance to lighting the diya in the evening and also each person in family has a habit of doing the puja in his own way.

Metros are also seeing a lot of family value in celebrating birthdays and anniversaries by observing the rituals and also entertaining outdoors. The Indian culture has imbibed the right mix of western influence and yet maintaining the ethnic family tradition. There is more love in every family while blowing candles on the birthday cake and also lighting the diya to observe an Aarti for the birthday person.

Dance forms in India : Folk music and tradition is the rich heritage of modern India. Despite the advent of technology, open communication and developments in all fields, the area of fine arts still gives a proud picture of our India. Dance is a part of celebration and is the intrinsic part of Indian glory. There are folk dances which are distinct and distinguished as per the geography. This also calls for a lot of make up talents and attire which only enhances the beauty of the dance and song.

Indian dance forms have traveled internationally and there are many academies of Indian dance forms abroad. The participation is a great impetus to the tradition of India and a boon for the NRI’s who love associating themselves with Indian culture. Bharatnatyam is the most renowned form of dance from the South. Kept alive by sincere efforts of traditional gurus and the allegiance of many students, this is a dance form which is almost a religion to many who revere it.

The Bharatanatyam dance is usually done with bent knees in a forward position and has the opportunity of display the Nav Ras or the emotions. The make up style and attire is very typical and hence allows a lot of expression. Kuchupidi is a characteristic dance form again from the south. Kathakali and has a lot to do like enacting a play and the use of mask, gear and get up. There are many schools that impart training and seeking this form of dance knowledge is a journey by itself. The ghumar dance of Rajashtan is a lot about rotation and typical palm movements. The ghungrus and the ghungat impart more style to this type of dance. The Lavani of Maharasthra is now being revoked by sincere people and the type of dance is now again getting traditional in its concept without being polluted by other influences. The gharba dance which was a form of raas by the gopis and Krishna is now being followed in all parts of India. There is enough commercialization in the 9 day festival in metros and the participation is done on a wide scale.

The Manipuri and Oddissi dance is very ethnic in its concept. There are a number of folk dances which still happen in the villages where the authentic lifestyle of rural India is displayed. Dance is the main form of artistic entertainment along with folk songs and other influences that is brought in by cinema. Acknowledging the subtle distinguishing points, the essence of Indian dance form is pure and unique.

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