Why Is Indian Culture Important for Us?


India is a diverse country, a fact that is visibly prominent in its people, culture, and climate. From the eternal snows of the Himalayas to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills, Indian lifestyles clearly glorify the geography.  Indian culture varies like its vast geography.

People speak in different languages, dress differently, follow different religions, eat different food but are of the same temperament. So whether it is a joyous occasion or a moment of grief, people participate whole-heartedly, feeling the happiness or pain. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighborhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. Likewise, an Indian wedding is a celebration of union, not only of the bride and groom but also of two families, maybe cultures or religion too! Similarly, in times of sorrow, neighbors and friends play an important part in easing out the grief.


History of Indian Culture and Civilization


India's history and culture are dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization.


The ruins show that these were magnificent merchant cities-well planned, scientifically laid, and well looked after. The history of India is punctuated by the constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. And these diverse and rich influences also helped in shaping India's culture. Other notable dynasties that shaped India are the Vedic civilization, the Gupta period, and the Mughal empire among others. Please do read about these interesting and diverse civilizations by following Britannica.


Language and Literature


India is the origin and home to languages which have shaped modern civilizations:


  • Sanskrit:

The Rigvedic Sanskrit is one of the oldest attestations of any Indo-Aryan languages, and one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European languages. 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.

  • Tamil:

one of India's major classical languages 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. 


Modern Indian languages, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, and many other languages have roots and structures 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.


The earliest Indian literature took the form of the canonical Hindu sacred writings, known as the Veda, which were written in Sanskrit. To the Veda were added prose commentaries such as the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa are the oldest preserved and well-known epics of India. This epic played a pivotal role in establishing the role of dhárma as a principal ideal guiding force for the Hindu way of life.


Religions


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.


Indian-origin religions Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, are all based on the concepts of dharma and karma. Ahimsa, the philosophy of nonviolence, is an important aspect of native Indian faiths. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and other religions. They are collectively known as Indian religions. 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. Today India is home to almost all religions in the world.


Traditions


Indian traditions form an integral part of the people's lifestyle, and influence a range of aspects:


  • Greetings:

Indian greetings are based on Añjali Mudrā, including Pranāma and Puja. Greetings like Namaste are commonly 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. These greetings literally translate to "I bow to you" and symbolize humility.

  • Family Structure:

in India, there exists the concept of a joint family, wherein the entire family (parents, wife, children, and in some cases, relatives) all live together. This is mostly because of the cohesive nature of the Indian society, and also reportedly helps in handling pressure and stress.

  • marriage:

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. Vivaha (wedding) is the most extensive personal ritual an adult Hindu undertakes in his or her life. Typical Hindu families spend significant effort and financial resources to prepare and celebrate weddings.

  • festivals:

India, being a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions with zeal and enthusiasm.

  • Guests and Hospitality:

In India, the principle is 'Atithi Devo Bhavah' which means, 'the guest is equivalent to god'. It is a Sanskrit verse taken from the Hindu scriptures, which later became a part of the 'Code of conduct for Hindu society since the guest has always been of supreme importance in the Culture of India.

With such extensive influence, Indian traditions have survived the test of time and still continue to flourish, embedded in the Indian culture.


Performance and Visual Arts


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 the early centuries of the 1st millennium CE.  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 man. 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 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 (Orissa) of the state of Odisha, and the Kshatriya of Assam. To read more about this topic, check dances in India.


Indian drama and theatre have 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. Kutiyattam of Kerala is officially recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


Music is an integral part of India's culture.  

The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda (1000 BC) that are still sung in certain Vedic Śrauta sacrifices.


India also is a rich source of ancient art.  Most early and medieval art in India is Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain.  Cave paintings from Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora, and Sittanavasal and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism.


Conclusion


Indian culture, often labeled as an amalgamation of several cultures, has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old, beginning with the Indus Valley Civilization. Many elements of Indian culture, such as Indian religions, mathematics, philosophy, cuisine, languages, dance, music, and movies have had a profound impact across the Indosphere, Greater India, and the world.


With strong principles in Diversity, Pride, Innovativeness, Adaptability, Harmony, Modesty, and Light-heartedness Indian traditions and culture can teach us principles to live a better life. Indian culture is a heritage that has been in the making for many millenniums and needs to be preserved.


Written By - Joshua

Edited By - Vaibhav Sharma


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