Indian Culture: 16 Traditions and Customs You Must Know!

The culture of India comprises of many aspects like food, clothing, weddings, etc. Find out how each of these customs contributes to the rich culture of the country.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  17 Dec 2021 11:48 AM GMT
Indian Culture: 16 Traditions and Customs You Must Know!

The Indian sub-continent is a potpourri of many cultures and traditions, found nowhere else in the world. Infact, the cultural vastness of the country is so huge that it is hard to generalize the basic customs and norms followed by people living here. These cultures come from the different religions which have different belief systems, way of living and social organizations. From clothing to food and greetings to weddings, an outsider will be intrigued to notice the amount of cultural diversity that exists even within the same groups.

In this article, we have identified 20 Amazing Cultures, Customs and Traditions of India, which are unique to our country.

16 Unique Customs and Traditions in Indian Culture:

Let us now check out the different customs and traditions followed in Indian culture and their specialties:

1. Greeting:

Indians use 'Namaste' as a traditional way of greeting people by joining the palms together with fingers upwards and bowing slightly with a smile on their face. This respectful gesture is called the Anjali Mudra, a non-verbal form of communication to show respect, politeness, and honour to others. The meaning of Namaste is 'I Bow to The Divine in You' as we Indians believe in the principle of "the sacred in me recognizes the sacred in you". This unique Indian custom grabbed the attention of even international leaders during the pandemic times, as it was treated as the safest, non-contact way of greeting in the world.

2. Traditional Clothing:

India exhibits a massive cultural diversity when it comes to traditional clothing. The many religions, social practices and local weather conditions have influenced the design and fabric of the clothing. No matter how modern the outlook of the people maybe, their love for traditional attires never dies. Infact, Indians wait for special occasions like weddings and festivals to showcase the unique clothing of their culture. From sarees to ghagra cholis, dhotis to kurta pajamas, one can notice a wide array of clothing in India.

3. Religions:

The most astonishing aspect of Indian culture is the way people of different religions live together in harmony. There are about 7 religions followed in India, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Of these, Hinduism is the major religion which is followed by an approximate 79.8 percent of the total population, followed by Islam which takes a 14.2% share of followers. The concept of "living together but separately" is the most beautiful part of India, as there is love, respect and tolerance for other religions.

4. Festivals:

Different religions give rise to different cultures and practices, along with different set of festivals which mark days of importance. There are many significant festivals that are not only prominent to a particular religion, but also celebrated as cross-cultural events. Some of them are Diwali. Eid, Christmas, Holi, Baisakhi, Rakhi, Mahavir Jayanti and Buddha Purnima. Additionally, there are many tribal festivals celebrated among the different tribal groups of India, of which the important ones are Hornbill Festival (Nagaland), Bhagoria Festival (Madhya Pradesh), Sammakka Sarakka Jathara (Telangana) etc.

5. Fasting:

Fasting or abstinence from food for a day or a particular period is another noteworthy aspect of Indian culture. Irrespective of the religion, people believe that fasting is a way to cleanse the body of toxins and toxic thoughts to bring them closer to the supreme power. Hindus go on a fast on auspicious days like Karva Chauth, Shiva Rathri, Nav Rathri, Eka Dashi etc. Muslims go on a complete fast for 30 days during the holy month of Ramadan which involves complete abstinence of food, water and even saliva. Christians go on a 40 day fast before Christmas which is called the Lent period.

6. Places of Worship:

With so many religions and belief systems in India, there ought to be different places of worship as well. These places are centers for spirituality and devotion where people, irrespective of their economic status or positions, gather to worship God. Examples of such places are Temples (Hindus), Mosques (Muslims), Church (Christians), Monastery (Buddhism) etc. People treat these structures as sacred places, where idols or images of God (except in Mosques) are worshipped using different ways. It is important to remove footwear before entering these sacred sanctums to prevent dirt from spoiling the sanctity of the place.

7. Food:

Food is a main part of the Indian culture and it is considered to be a boon of God. The country is a food lover's paradise as each region boasts of local cuisine unique to the place. The ingredients and cooking techniques vary greatly as we from North down to the south. The staple foods in Northern Indian are Roti, Dal, Saag, Chole Bhature, Dhokla, Butter Chicken etc., while in South India, one can relish a crispy dosa, filter coffee, traditional thali etc. Street food comprises of a variety of sweet and savoury items like Pani puri, Gulab Jamun, Samosa Ragada, Pav Bhaji etc., which are enjoyed even by foreigners.

8. Eating with Hands:

As per the traditional Indian culture, eating with bare hands is very good for our health. Using hands while eating lets you understand the temperature and texture of different foods served on the plate. This activity activates the 'hunger' signal in your brain, which tells your stomach to start producing digestive enzymes. According to the ancient Ayurveda principles, the practice of eating with five fingers of our hands lets us stay in sync with the five elements of nature. Also, it gets easy to combine different flavour with your hand and relish a wholesome meal.

9. Ancient Architecture:

India is home to many architectural marvels which were built with the most advanced technologies during the ancient period. Many temples and ancient structures feature ornate sculptures with intricate detailing to showcase the lost culture and . Some of them even have science-defying constructions that leave the present-day technicians wonder with amazement. A few of such ancient architectural and engineering marvels are Ellora Temple, Hampi, Konark Sun Temple, Khajuraho, Konark Sun Temple, Temples of Mahabalipuram etc. to name a few.

10. Language:

One of the significant aspects of the Indian culture is its linguistic diversity comprising of several languages and dialects. According to a survey in 2011, there are approximately 121 major languages along with 1599 minor languages. Another official report says that there are about 19500 mother tongues spoken in India, which is one of the highest in the world. Each Indian state has an official language which is concentrated locally, with a few exceptions that are spoken in other states too. Among these languages, Hindi is the most widely spoken language with Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil taking up the next positions.

11. Epics and Mythology:

India has many epics and mythologies which form the foundational texts of its culture. The two greatest epics are Ramayana and Mahabharata that are written in Sanskrit and later translated to many regional and foreign languages. Both the epics talk about the life and war stories happened during two time periods – Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga. They are not mere stories but historical events which teach us many spiritual and life lessons. Apart from these two, there is a compilation of the sacred texts called Chaturveda or the Four Vedas which prescribe all the rules and guidelines to follow for being a perfect human being.

12. Wedding:

Weddings are the main part of Indian culture as they mark the beginning of a new phase for two individuals. Unlike the western countries where weddings are strictly a private affair, Indian weddings are celebrated in grandeur and a guest list that can sometimes cross 1000 people. The religion and local traditions shape the customs and rituals of the wedding which may take place over a period of 3-5 days. There are many events like Haldi, Mehndi, Bridal Shower, Reception, Sangeet etc. in which the two families meet and bond up well with each other. One can expect to find larger-than-life venues with ornate decorations, elaborate menus and women flaunting expensive jewellery.

13. Traditional Sports:

Many people assume that Cricket and Badminton are the only two main sports in India. That is far from true! India is home to many sports that have influenced many modern-day athletics and Olympic sports. These sports are true icons of Indian culture as they bring people of different communities together and improve their way of life. Some of the famous traditional Indian sports are Mallakhamb, Silambam, Jallikattu, Vallam Kali or Snake Boat Race, Kabaddi, Pehelwani or Wrestling and traditional martial arts like Kalari Payattu and Thang Ta.

14. Family Structure and Values:

Joint families, where two to three generations of family members live together under the same roof, are the preferred types of families in Indian culture. A typical Joint family comprises of 20-30 people of various age groups and mindsets. It's surprising to note how the family relationships are tied together despite having massive generation gaps. Structurally, these families comprise of grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and sometimes even distant relations.

15. Visual Arts:

There are many visual art forms in India which represent the traditional cultures and traditions of the country. These art forms have been handed down from one generation to the other with minimal alterations to preserve their original nature. Indian arts are synonymous to rich colors, artistic motifs and skillful representations of our everyday experiences. Some of the major art forms are sculptures, paintings, pottery, textile arts, weaves etc. which are unique to specific geographical regions and cultures of India.

16. Performing Arts:

Performing arts have a major significance in the Indian culture and are the major forms of entertainment in ancient times when there was no technology. Apart from providing recreation from mundane activities, performing arts gave the artists to express and emote in a creative and engaging manner. The four major forms of performing arts in India are dance, music, theatre and cinema. Each art form is based on a particular story or a sequence which is conveyed to the audience through body movements, songs or expressions.

Indian culture is such a vast term that it is hard to pinpoint just a few under the topic. The country with the world's oldest civilization exhibits a massive cultural diversity which is second to none in the world. According to you, what are the other unique aspects of the Indian culture?

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