Discovering the Rich Values and Traditions of Indian Culture

User By Stella Tessa

The rich heritage of India, a country with many different cultures and traditions, dates back thousands of years. India's culture synthesizes numerous faiths, philosophical systems, social mores, and traditional ways of life that have developed over time. The various components of Indian culture and tradition, including its values, traditions, customs, and popular culture in India, will be examined in this article.

10 Customs and Traditions in Indian Culture

India is a land of diverse cultures, and its customs and traditions are deeply rooted in spirituality and beliefs. From birth to death, every occasion is marked by customs and rituals passed down through generations. Now, we will explore 10 customs and traditions integral to Indian culture.

India is a beautiful land with diverse cultures

India is a beautiful land with diverse cultures

Greetings

The culture of India is rich in rituals and practices that embody hospitality, mysticism, and deep connection. The salutation "Namaste" is a good illustration of the idea that everyone has a little bit of divinity inside of them. Fingers pointed upward in a prayer position in front of the chest; one makes a small bow respectfully. It has gained worldwide popularity as a substitute for physical contact.

The Sanskrit poem "Atithi Devo Bhava," which means "the guest is equivalent to god," is another important part of the culture. It has its roots in old Hindu scriptures and is well ingrained in Indian society. It is believed that treating guests with the utmost respect and extending hospitality are obligations and virtues that result in blessings and positive karma.

The Indian head shake, or the Indian nod, is a unique gesture that may puzzle outsiders. It involves tilting the head from side to side in a rhythmic manner, conveying a range of meanings, including agreement, affirmation, ambiguity, or hesitation. It is a form of communication that requires attention to the context of the conversation.

Family

The concept of a joint family is deeply ingrained in Indian culture. It involves multiple generations living under one roof, including parents, wives, children, and occasionally extended relatives. At the head of the family is the 'Karta,' a respected senior male or female who takes charge of social and economic decisions on behalf of the entire family. Relationships within the family can be of mutual respect, teasing, or equal footing.

The shared income that each member of the family contributes to and from which everyone benefits is one of the characteristics of a joint family. However, the trend toward nuclear families is spreading more widely due to rising economic development and urbanization.

The practice of arranged marriages is another one that is still prevalent in India. This custom may be traced back to the Vedic period, which lasted from 1500 to 1100 BCE. At that time, eligible suitors from all across the realm would engage in contests to win the hand of a royal bride. Even if the procedure has changed, arranged marriages are a significant aspect of the national’s culture.

Indian ceremony on Hindu wedding

Indian ceremony on Hindu wedding

Religions

India is a land of diverse religions where people coexist peacefully. Hinduism is the dominant religion, with 79.8% of the population, followed by Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. In Hindu culture, the cow holds a special place as it is considered a sacred animal. It is believed to represent the gods through its horns, the ancient Hindu scriptures through its four legs, and the four objectives of life through its udder.

In many states, consuming beef or killing cows is forbidden since they are considered sinful. India strongly emphasizes respecting cows, which is not just a religious but also a cultural habit.

Fasting, also known as "Vrats" or "Upvas," is another important Indian cultural ritual. It is a technique to express appreciation to the Gods and Goddesses as well as resolution and sincerity. On many religious holidays and days throughout India, people practice fasting, which is thought to purge one's body of sins. It is a means of demonstrating dedication to one's beliefs while also purifying the body and soul.

Food

The culture of India is greatly enriched by its delectable cuisine, which is a specialty of each region. While non-vegetarian options are widely available in Bengali, Mughlai, North Indian, and Punjabi cuisine, vegetarian cuisine is especially well-liked in Gujarat and Rajasthan. South Indian state of Kerala is well known for its delectable fish dishes.

Eating with your hands while consuming Indian food is one of the culture's most intriguing traditions. It's worth trying the traditional style of eating for a more authentic cultural experience, even if many establishments may offer silverware for tourists. In addition to being entertaining and a great way to get to know the locals, it's also said to encourage slower eating and improve digestion. Use your right hand to eat, and wash your hands well both before and after. Indian food is filled with a wide variety of fresh ingredients and spices that are sure to entice your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

Read more: Street Foods in India: A Delicious Adventure into the Heart of Indian Cuisine

Hand-eating biryani rice on a dining table in India

Hand-eating biryani rice on a dining table in India

Temples

When it comes to visiting Indian temples, it's important to remember that these are sacred spaces with significant spiritual and cultural importance. Many temples are located in places believed to hold positive energy from the Earth's magnetic wave lines, making it a truly magical experience. Before entering the temple, it's customary to cleanse oneself of negative thoughts and influences by taking a bath or washing your hands and feet.

Inside the temple, you will typically find a main idol that sits atop a copper plate called the Garbhagriha or Moolasthan, which is believed to absorb and resonate this underground energy. Dressing appropriately is crucial as a sign of respect: women should wear modest clothing, such as a top and a skirt or trousers that cover their ankles, while men should wear trousers and a shirt. It's also important to avoid wearing any leather or animal skin as this is considered offensive to Hindus.

Before entering the temple, you must remove your footwear to prevent dirt from entering the clean and sanctified environment. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to remove, and if you choose to wear socks, ensure they are clean and hole-free. Following these customs and traditions allows you to fully immerse yourself in the spiritual and cultural experience of visiting Indian temples.

Festivals

This is considered one of the interesting things about Indian culture values. Hindus celebrate Diwali, Holi, and Makar Sakranti, while Muslims observe Eid. Baisakhi is a Sikh festival, Jains commemorate Mahavir Jayanti, and Buddhists mark Buddha's birthday. Christians celebrate Christmas and Good Friday. There are also festivals to honor saints, public figures, and gurus.

Ornate idols, extravagant parades, specific food dishes, dancing and music, sacred rituals, and vibrant colors characterize Indian festivals. Some festivals even promote well-being, yoga, and walking.

Unlike many festivals worldwide, major national Indian festivals and occasions often have "dry days" where the sale of alcohol is prohibited. So, instead of a boozy affair, Indian festivals are a chance to be part of community celebrations and create magical holiday memories. Incorporate a festival into your tour and immerse yourself in the colorful, joyful atmosphere that only India's festivals can offer.

Celebrating the Holi festival with colorful people outdoor

Celebrating the Holi festival with colorful people outdoor

Clothing

Clothing in India reflects its diverse cultural heritage, climate, and traditions. The clothing worn by both men and women has evolved from simple garments to intricate costumes used not only for daily wear but also for special occasions, rituals, and dance performances. In urban areas, Western clothing is worn by people from all social classes.

One of the hallmarks of traditional Indian clothing is the fantastic craftsmanship passed down through generations, including embroidery, embellishment, and printing, as well as the use of ornate textiles such as fine silk. Clothing is often worn in specific colors to represent a religion or ritual, adding to the richness and depth of Indian culture.

Dance

Dancing is considered one of the popular types of culture in India. India is a treasure trove of diverse and vibrant dance forms, each with its own unique style and cultural significance. The ancient text of performing arts, the Hindu Sanskrit ‘Natyashashtra’, recognizes eight Indian classical dances. The northern, western, and central regions feature Kathak, while the east showcases Sattriya from Assam, Manipuri from Manipur, and Oddisi from Odhisa. In the south, you can experience Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh, Bharatnatyam in Tamil Nadu, and Kathakali and Mohiniyattam in Kerala.

Classical dances have a strong narrative element, with performers conveying stories mainly from mythology through graceful gestures and movements. The costumes and makeup are often elaborate, adding to the visual appeal of the performance.

Indian folk dances, on the other hand, are based on stories passed down through generations and are popular in rural areas. These dances reflect the everyday life of villagers and showcase their customs and traditions through rhythmic movements and colorful attire.

Read more: Famous traditional dances of India you may want to know

National costumes dance at the open festival of traditional Indian culture

National costumes dance at the open festival of traditional Indian culture

Language

India is a land of linguistic diversity where fascinating languages and dialects can vary within just a few miles. With over 19,500 mother tongues, 415 living languages, and 23 constitutionally recognized official languages, language is an integral part of Indian culture. Hindi is spoken by 41% of the population, especially in the northern regions, while English is spoken as a second language by 12% of Indians.

The Devanagari script, developed between the 1st and 4th centuries, is widely used for writing in India. It comprises 47 primary characters, including 14 vowels and 33 consonants, written from left to right. The characters have symmetrical rounded shapes within squared outlines and are written in the same case, without any capitalization.

Literature

Literature holds a special place in the culture with a rich storytelling tradition through stories, poems, plays and self-help guides. Among the many great epics, the two most famous Hindu epics are the Ramayana and Mahabharata. These epics contain thrilling tales of gods and demons, love and war, and chariots and kidnappings dating back centuries.

The Ramayana follows the story of Rama, prince of the legendary kingdom of Kosala, and his fourteen-year exile to the forest, urged by his father, King Dasharatha. The Mahabharata, written in Sanskrit, is the longest poem and tells the tale of the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas. Both epics highlight the India culture values of devotion, loyalty, sacrifice, and truth with their message of good triumphing over evil. These stories have been retold for thousands of years and continue to play a significant part in the nation.

Ancient writings on palm leaves in Indian language about literature

Ancient writings on palm leaves in Indian language about literature

India is a country rich in cultural traditions and values preserved over thousands of years. From its customs and traditions to its delicious cuisine and diverse religions, India has much to offer visitors who want to immerse themselves in its vibrant culture. If you are planning to visit India, make sure to visit the India Immigration Services website, where you can apply for an online visa to travel to the nation. Start your journey of discovering the rich values and traditions of Indian culture today!