Culture of India - Wikipedia
Gender in Indian History and Society c. Questions of masculinity in relation to class, community and property rights Love in South Asia: A Cultural History. Adding further variety to contemporary Indian culture are rapidly occurring changes affecting various regions and socioeconomic groups in A young person anticipates that parents will arrange his or her marriage. Finally .. Natural History. Jan 15, The warmth in the relations and euphoria in celebrations make the country Cultural and Social Bond: India's history is replete with instances of Besides, it is also passed from generation to generation in the Indian society.
The ultimate goal is maksha, or the achievement of spiritual perfection which will enable the soul to achieve release from the wheel of life, and attain oneness with Brahma. This link will take you to more information about Hindu religion and culture. The idea of caste is closely associated with Hindu beliefs about spiritual progress through the accumulation of karma and reincarnation.
Caste is the division of society into rigid classes, which define one's status, occupation, and relationships. Historians believe that the caste system was introduced into India at the time of the Aryan invasions, c. In due course, this stratification of society was sanctioned by Hinduism, in which caste came to be associated with the level of spiritual attainment. Thus in India we find a multiplicity of ethnic groups-- hundreds of separate languages are spoken-- a multiplicity of castes within each community-- and the worship of a multiplicity of gods that vary according to locality, caste, and personal preference.
In this context, there are many paths to salvation, but one goal: The essential duty of the good Hindu can be summarized as follows: Live life according to your place, as you were born to it. Various forms of religious observance and practice are possible, depending on the individual's nature-- physical, ceremonial, or ascetic disciplines may be followed.
The essence of all religious practice is mastery-- control over body, cravings, emotions. Therefore extremes of physical discipline are practiced by some to achieve such mastery. The varieties of physical discipline vary greatly, however. The fundamental idea is to remember that the world is an illusion; one must master the worldly flesh to escape it and reach spiritual enlightenment. Although there are many local deities, there are certain deities that are believed to be preeminent, and are widely recognized.
Four in particular are of major importance: The sacred writings of Hinduism - the Baghvad Gita, the Ramayana, and others, are a mixture of mystical writings and allegorical interpretations of history. Many of the figures and events are believed to reflect actual events and individuals in ancient Indian history. Both Buddhism and Islam were also important in the culture of the Indian subcontinent.
Land Tenure and Property. In an economy based on agriculture, the ownership of land is the key to survival and power. In most parts of the country, the majority of the acreage is owned by a politically dominant caste that is likely to be a middle-ranking one, not a Brahmin one. However, the various regions still have different traditions of land tenure and associated systems of land taxation.
India has only recently seen the last of the rural serfs who for centuries supplied much of the basic farm labor in some parts of the country. There are still numberless landless wage laborers, tenant farmers, and landlords who rent out their extensive lands, and rich peasants who work their own holdings.
India has had many traders, transport agents, importers, and exporters since the days of the Indus civilization four thousand years ago. Market places have existed since that time, and coinage has been in circulation among urban people for years. In modern times, an expanding investment scene, combined with continuing inflation, has formed the background to an extensive import and export trade.
The major industries continue to be tourism, clothing, tea, coffee, cotton, and the production of raw materials; in the last few years, there has been a surge in the importance of the computer software industry. The modern infrastructure was created by the British administration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The country still relies on a vast network of railroad track, some of it electrified. Railroads are a government monopoly. Roadways, many of them unsurfaced, total about 1. The first air service, for postal delivery, grew into Air India which, along with Indian Airlines, the internal system, was nationalized in In the s a number of private airlines developed within the country, while international connections are provided by a multitude of foreign companies as well as Air India.
Political animosities have long ensured that trade with neighboring South Asian countries remains minimal, although there is now considerable transborder trade with Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. The division of work is based on gender. Age also separates out the very old and the very young as people unable to perform the heaviest tasks. Those jobs are done by millions of adult men and women who have nothing to offer but their muscles. Beyond these fundamental divisions, India is unique in having the caste system as the ancient and most basic principle of organization of the society.
Each of many hundreds of castes traditionally had one occupation that was its specialty and usually its local monopoly. Only farming and the renouncer's life were open to all. Social Stratification Classes and Castes. The caste system is more elaborate than that in any of the other Hindu or Buddhist countries. Society is so fragmented into castes that there can be twenty or thirty distinct castes within a village. This society has a hierarchy of endogamous, birth-ascribed groups, each of which traditionally is A family at the Taj Mahal, one of the most famous buildings in the world.
Because an individual cannot change his or her caste affiliation, every family belongs in its entirety and forever to only one named caste, and so each caste has developed a distinctive subculture that is handed down from generation to generation. Hindu religious theory justifies the division of society into castes, with the unavoidable differences in status and the differential access to power each one has. Hindus usually believe that a soul can have multiple reincarnations and that after the death of the body a soul will be reassigned to another newborn human body or even to an animal one.
This reassignment could be to one of a higher caste if the person did good deeds in the previous life or to a lower-status body if the person did bad deeds. The highest category of castes are those people called Brahmins in the Hindu system; they were traditionally priests and intellectuals.
Below them in rank were castes called Ksatriyaincluding especially warriors and rulers. Third in rank were the Vaisyascastes concerned with trading and land ownership. The fourth-ranking category were the Sudrasprimarily farmers. Below these four categories and hardly recognized in the ancient and traditional model, were many castes treated as "untouchable" and traditionally called Pancama.
Outside the system altogether were several hundred tribes, with highly varied cultural and subsistence patterns. The whole system was marked not just by extreme differences in status and power but by relative degrees of spiritual purity or pollution.
A curious feature of the caste system is that despite its origins in the Hindu theory of fate and reincarnation, caste organization is found among Indian Muslims, Jews, and Christians in modern times.
In the Buddhist lands of Korea, Japan, and Tibet, there are rudimentary caste systems, their existence signaled especially by the presence of untouchable social categories.Homosexuality in Ancient India
Architecturally, professionally, and in other ways, they are therefore the most Westernized cities in India today. In these cities and their suburbs, there is now a developed class system overlying and in many respects displacing the more traditional caste system. As a consequence, there are many modern cases of intercaste marriage in all the cities, although this practice remains almost unthinkable to the great majority of Indians.
There are many symbols of class differentiation because each caste tends to have its own persisting subculture. People's location in this stratification system thus can be gauged accurately according to the way they dress, their personal names, the way they speak a local dialect, the deities they worship, who they are willing to eat with publicly, the location of their housing, and especially their occupations.
The combination of all these subcultural features can be a sure sign of where individuals and their families are situated in the caste hierarchy. The national system of government is a liberal democratic federal republic, making India the largest democracy in the world. The country is divided for administrative purposes into twenty—eight linguistically—based states, plus a further seven small "Union Territories" administered directly by the central government in New Delhi, the national capital.
Leadership and Political Officials. The states all have legislative assemblies Vidhan sabha and legislative councils Vidhan parishad. Members of parliament and the state legislatures are selected in democratic elections.
An exception to this procedure is that the Lok Sabha has two seats reserved for Anglo-Indian members, and of the 4, seats in all the state legislative assemblies, have been reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Castes and a further for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes. These provisions have ensured that the main minority populations have legislative representation and an interest in pursuing the electoral process. The Lok Sabha recently had sitting members from twenty one different parties.
State legislatures also host a multiplicity of political parties. The head of state is the president, and there is also a vice-president, neither elected by general franchise but instead by an electoral college. The president is aided by a council of ministers, and appoints the prime minister of each government.
This prime minister is the leader of the dominant party or of a coalition of prominent parties and has been elected as a member of parliament. The president has the power to dissolve a government and order new elections or to dismiss a problematic state government and declare "president's rule.
Indians have lived under the rule of law since ancient times. Hindu law was codified over two thousand years ago in the books called Dharmasastras.
There is now one legal hierarchy throughout the land, with the Supreme Court at its head. The constitution promulgated in went further than any other South Asian country has gone in curtailing the influence of traditional legal systems that in practice applied only to the followers of a particular religion, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Parsi. The huge legal profession helps push cases slowly through the complex apparatus of magistrates' and higher-level courts, sometimes creating the impression that litigation is a national sport.
While fines and imprisonment are the most common punishments, the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the death penalty.
Five wars with Pakistan and one with China since independence have provided training for several generations of soldiers. India thus has a strong program of national defense, with four national services: Inthese branches An Indian shopkeeper with his wares.
Small shops still make up a big part of the Indian economy. Inthe nation exploded a nuclear bomb as a test. Social Welfare and Change Programs Traditionally the family was responsible for the care of the poor, incapacitated, elderly, and very young. For rural populations this is still largely true. In recent decades, underfunded state governments, often with international help, have tried to create more jobs for the poor as a direct way of helping them.
Beyond this, welfare organizations have helped, but they are largely private and often religious foundations with relatively little financing. The population in need of social welfare support is too vast for the facilities that are available, and these people are disproportionately concentrated in the cities.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations There are numerous nongovernmental organizations of social, political, religious, educational, or sporting natures. Every village, town, and caste and most temples have at least one associate formal organization and sometimes dozens. Beyond some attempts at registration, for example, of cooperative societies and charitable endowments, the government does not attempt to control organizations.
Gender provides the basis for a fundamental division of the work force, with perhaps only the lowest day-labor jobs and the most modern professions being regularly staffed by people of both genders. The Relative Status of Women and Men.
This is true in all family systems except the defunct matrilineal system of the Nayar castes in Kerala. Within all branches of Hinduism, priests can only be male, though they may be boys. In Islam, the leaders of a prayer group are males. In Zoroastrianism and Roman Catholicism, only men can function as priests. It is said that a woman must first obey her father, then her husband, and then her son; this seems to be the normal pattern as she goes through life.
The opinion of the male head of household is especially important in the arrangement of marriages, because in most religious communities these are effectively marriages between two families.
At such times, romantic preferences get little consideration. Since it is the male head who typically controls the family's finances, it is he who pays or receives a dowry at the time of a child's marriage. Although older women may be very influential behind the scenes, they wield little legal authority in property and marriage matters. Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage. Although the different regions and religions have considerable variety in marital arrangements, the arranged marriage is a traditional feature of virtually every community; today, except among the urban middle classes, it still is widely practiced.
Marriages that are not arranged by the couple's parents, often termed "love marriages," are looked down on as impulsive acts of passion. The more usual style of marriage unites a couple who have barely met beforehand. It is through the institution of arranged marriage and its correlate, caste endogamy, that parents exercise control not only over their adult children but also over the social structure and the caste system.
Generally, the country has two main types of marriage: Many south Indian castes also permit uncle-niece marriage. Maharashtra state has intermediate forms. The residential unit is normally the household, but this unit varies widely in its structure, from housing a large extended family of three or four generations to a household made up of a lone widow. In large buildings with many rooms, it is common to find a number of discrete households, especially in cities; each of these households may be distinguished by its use of a common cooking hearth and perhaps by depending on a common source of funds.
In crowded urban conditions, each room may constitute a separate household, as may each small grass hut in a roadside encampment. The written will is largely unknown except in modern urban areas. The tradition has always been that sons inherit property and status from their fathers and that daughters can hope to receive a dowry at the time of their marriage.
However, there is much local and caste variation in precisely who inherits. In some groups, the oldest son inherits everything and then makes an accommodation for his younger brother and provides his sisters' dowries.
In other groups, the brothers may inherit equal shares, except that the youngest brother inherits the house. Other patterns occur, but in general, although modern law states that daughters should inherit equally with their brothers, this almost never happens except in Islamic families. The largest kin-based group is the caste, of which there are several thousand.
A caste is an endogamous unit with its own traditional occupation and rank. It is made up of a number of clans, which are also kin-based but are exogamous and often intermarrying units.
The clan in turn is made up of smaller and more localized groups called lineages, which are also exogamous. A caste may include hundreds of lineages of varying size and status, depending on how many generations of depth they claim. Major lineages commonly are composed of minor lineages, but the smallest are so localized that they are made up of a number of neighboring and closely related extended or nuclear families.
Thus, a caste is endogamous, but all the kin-based units below it are exogamous and follow rigid rules about which clans or lineages are allowed to inter-marry. Infant care is almost completely the responsibility of mothers, older siblings, and grandmothers. When the mother works in the fields or a factory, a grandmother commonly is the chief provider of daytime care for an infant. After about the age of two, older sisters spend much of their time in this activity.
Child Rearing and Education. Inthe government spent over 2 percent of its resources on education. Although the government's goal of eradicating illiteracy among people age fifteen to thirty five by the year has not been achieved, there has been a steady decrease in illiterary since the late nineteenth century.
Among people above age six in52 percent were literate, a 9 percent increase from Kerala state has the highest rates of literacy.
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However, nationally there remains a great sexual disparity: While 64 percent of men were literate inonly 39 percent of women were. The central government is more interested in military power than in literacy, and millions of rural parents, especially Muslims, feel that the schooling of girls is a waste of time and money. Only the establishment of sixteen as the minimum legal age for marriage has made it possible for many girls to get their parents' reluctant permission to attend school.
While in earlier times missionary-run schools were important, especially in rural areas, in the last century local and state schools have educated the vast majority of students.
Over the last half century universal school attendance for eight years, equal opportunities for female students, relevant vocational training, and improvement in the quality of classes and textbooks have been national goals, with an emphasis on free and compulsory education for everybody from ages six to fourteen.
However, there has been a recent growth of privately run schools, many associated with religious organizations, which tend to do a better job but commonly charge fees. There were universities inincluding thirteen central universities which are the oldest, best known, and best funded.
Besides, it is also passed from generation to generation in the Indian society, thus exemplifying the importance and uniqueness of Indian jewellery in Indian culture. The unique designs, artistic looks and creativeness of Indian jewellery make it represent the culture and tradition of India. In rural India, a resinous incrustation called lac is used for the personal ornamentation.
Specialty of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the lac bangles and bracelets are worn and liked by the women of all states. Jewellery is an important accessory for every Indian woman. From earrings, nose-rings, armlets, necklaces to anklets and bracelets, Indian jewellery give a woman everything that she needs to enhance her beauty. Some form of jewellery such as mangalsutra, nose and toe rings is also associated typically with married women in India, who also get jewellery as 'stridhan' on their marriage.
Mehndi In Indian marriages, especially in the north, a special night is celebrated before the day of marriage in which mehndi or henna-a kind of paste-is designed on the palms of bridegroom and is followed by some colourful dance and music. It is also designed on the palms of women on some special occasions like their engagement and marriage.
The paste is applied for a few hours or overnight and washed when it gets dried completely.
This gives reddish-brown colour to the palms. In certain parts of India, mehndi is a special kind of ancient folk art as well. India is a secular state and every citizen enjoys an equal right of choosing and following a particular religion.
More than three fourth of Indian population belongs to Hindu religion and you can find Hindu pilgrimages in every part of the country. In Northern part of India, you can visit various sacred religious places like Vaishno Devi, Amarnath, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Haridwar and Varanasi and in the Southern part of the country you can take the blessings of God at the Sabrimala, Sringeri, Dakshineshwar-belur math, and Rameshwaram.
If you are in the Northeast, you can go to the Kamrup temple that is located on the outskirts of Guwahati on the Nilachal hills. If you are roaming somewhere around Gujarat and interested in knowing about Lord Krishna, then you must visit Dwarkanath temple that is built at the site where Meera Bai gave up the world. You can also visit Somnath temple that comprises one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. In Northeast, there is Poa Mecca. It is believed that here a faithful Muslim can gain one fourth of the spiritual enlightenment that could be gained at Mecca.
Hemkund Sahib, which is situated at an altitude of meters, is the highest Gurudwara in the world. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, mediated here for years in the mountains and ultimately left his body here to get united with the Almighty. Another pilgrimage of Sikhs is Manikaran Gurudwara that is situated in Himachal Pradesh and is famous for its hot springs.
Culture of India
It is believed that these springs carry uranium and other radioactive materials. In India, you can also find a number of churches in every state. Northern India also has famous churches like St. Michael's Cathedral at Shimla. In spite of presence of so much diversity in practice of religion, people still stay united here. It is just the Indian values that bind people together.
In this people offer water to the sun and chant mantras and prayers. Indians worship nature and this is unique about its culture. In Hindu religion, trees and animals are worshipped like Gods. People believe in God and keep fast 'vrata' on many festivals. They offer morning's first fresh meal to cow and night's last meal to dog.
Nowhere in the world can one come across such generosity. All the religions here start the day with morning hymns, and these rich values are inculcated into the kids since childhood. Morning prayers and moral education is also a very important part of the education system in India. Here people are not judged by caste, colour or creed but by their values and this is what makes India a unique place to live.
Everything is Artistic here! The great variety in performing and visual arts could not be found anywhere else in the world except for India. From a roadside show to a highly sophisticated drama in the theatre, you can find anything and everything here.
Indian art can be categorised into two main forms- performing arts and visual arts. Performing Arts Dance, drama, theatre or music, every art is unique in itself.
India: Historical Background
In India, religions, mythology and classical literature form the basis of most of the performing arts: Dance Indian classical dances like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi and Kuchipudi mainly follow the codes of natya shastra, mythology and classical literature and epics like Ramayana and Mahabharta. Theatre Another kind of performing art is theatre. Though the folk theatre prevails in each and every language and region, the professional theatre is popular only in big urban areas or metropolitan cities.
Puppet shows were a unique form of Indian theatre. For centuries, puppet shows have been popular in creating awareness about social issues in masses and inculcating the moral values of truth and honesty in the kids. Music For Indians, music is to soul what food is to body.
Since Vedic period, it has been capturing the heart and mind of every Indian. The Indian villages also have their special kind of music that carries colours of folk tradition.