Exploring the Culture of India

The second most populous country in the world with dozens of religions, languages, and ethnic groups shape the incredibly diverse culture of India. In fact, India’s cultural history spans more than 4,500 years! In the country of the Ganges River and the majestic Himalayan Mountains, travelers can discover a mix of traditional sarees and modern suits, learn Yoga, and visit food carts with fried vegetables and fish lining the streets.

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People and Community in India

In most Indian homes, it’s common for several generations to live together, and decisions about education or marriage are rarely made without consulting other family members. This sense of community shapes the culture of India and means that people spend as much time as possible with others at home, rather than alone behind closed doors. Large families with several offspring used to be the norm in India, but now many urban parents opt to have only one or two children.

In India, family loyalty is very important. Parents provide everything for children and families are the focal point of Indian existence. Courses, careers, and marriages are often decided by parents. It is not coercion, just an accepted way of life that parents know best. Parents are rather ambitious for their children as competition is tough. It was quite normal for children to generally follow in their parents’ professions. This is changing, but in business families, the sons still often follow their father. Generally, the family is a cocoon and parents are protective, but it is now more common that urban parents encourage their children to be more independent within certain limits.

Within families or with friends Indians share everything, including the food on their plates or in their tiffin/lunch boxes. The concept of “yours” and “mine” is not so pronounced as it is in the West.

Language and Communication Styles

Hindi and English are the official languages of India. There are 22 different languages that have been recognized by the Constitution of India, as well as other local languages and dialects depending on the area that help shape the culture of India.

Food in India

Food is a big part of the culture of India, and it is quite diverse depending on the region. Full of flavor and often spicy, pungent, oily, and deep-fried, meals are a great time to socialize and be with family. Indian cuisine consists of lots of vegetables, beans, lentils, rice, and only sometimes meat, so vegetarians will have plenty of options to choose from. Meat is only an additive portion of a meal, not the main portion. Even those who eat meat are used to eating a lot of vegetable dishes, plus the staple of bread and rice.

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