The Indian lifestyle is very vibrant with a mixture of ancient and modern traditions along with different cultures, arts and values, etc. Here is an insight...
A trip to India can be a unique experience if you are looking forward to a new lifestyle. Indeed, India is known to be one of the countries worldwide having the most important cultural and traditional blend thanks to its multi-ethnic population. From North to South, East and West, you will meet different communities living in a perfect harmony and speaking several languages. Being one of the world's most powerful economies, India is as rich in culture, art and traditions as in terms of history. Therefore, you are definitely likely to enjoy your stay there, whether you are moving alone or with your family.
India is, above all, one of the main tourism destinations in Asia. In fact, thousands of tourists and expatriates across the globe have moved there so as to experience its huge cultural legacy as portrayed by palaces, fortresses, museums, as well as temples, in a very colorful folk ambiance. India is, in fact, one of the world's most ancient civilizations, having been governed by Rajputs and Mughals first, then by the British and Portuguese during the colonial era. Nowadays, India has greatly modernized, but it still bears the marks of history through its magnificent architecture, as well as beliefs, rituals, festivals, etc.
Customs and beliefs
Since many years, the population's everyday life has been deeply marked by religion, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Sikhism, not to mention Islam and Christianity. Of course, customs and beliefs vary from one region to another. Vegetarianism, for instance, is quite widespread in the country, even in New Delhi, the capital city. This is considered to be a sign of respect for animals. In fact, many animals such as cows, buffalo, elephants, mice and peacocks are dignified by Indians. Therefore, do not be surprised to be stuck in traffic jam because of a cow or buffalo which simply does not want to get out of the way. Indians will wait for it to go away rather than honking.
Good to know:
The left hand is considered as impure. Therefore, avoid shaking hands with an Indian, or even eating, with your left hand.
India also has a wide linguistic heritage thanks to not less than 18 official languages, among which are Hindi and English. On the other hand, at least 4,000 languages are spoken in different regions. As regards Hindi, which is spoken in most major cities, it is derived from Sanskrit, one of the world's most ancient languages. Indeed, sacred books have been written in Sanskrit. Hindi is, in fact, a simplified version. In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Bihar, the most popular languages are, namely, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujrati, Punjabi and Bhojpuri, respectively. As regards English, it is India's administrative language.
The caste system is still quite present in India, especially in small villages, although it has officially been abolished. Originally, the Indian population was divided into four casts, namely brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. There were also manual workers who were considered as untouchables and who were prohibited from taking part in rituals, festivals, going to the temple, etc. Nowadays, their descendents are rather qualified and competent in different fields. However, the caste system is still taken into account when it comes to marriages and other social events.
Given the fact that India is a highly cultural and traditional country, several festivals are celebrated there. Indeed, the Hindu calendar is marked by festivals and other celebrations all year long, regardless of the region. These consist of national and local public holidays, some of which are determined according to the lunar calendar. The most popular festivals in India are the following: Makar Sankranti (the harvest festival), Holi (the festival of colors), Ganesh Charturthi (the immersion of the God with an elephant head), Deepavali (the festival of lights), Durga Pooja (the nine nights of the Goddess Durga), Maha Shivaratree (the great night of Shiva), Hanuman Jayanti (birth of the Lord Hanuman), Krishna Janmashtami (birth of the Lord Krishna), Rama Navmi (birth of the Lord Rama), Cavadee (Glory to the Lord Muruga), and many more.
As regards national festivals celebrated across the country, you have Independence Day on August 15, Republic Day on January 26, Gandhi Jayanti on October 2nd, as well as Eid-Ul-Fitr, Christmas and New Year.
Despite the modern era, Indians have managed to preserve and pass on, from one generation to another, a set of values and ancestral traditions. For instance, parents and grand parents are respected by each and everyone. The father or grandfather, who is the head of the family, takes all decisions regarding the family. He often arranges marriages, although new generations tend to prefer love marriage and live more independently.
Moreover, the family has always been the cornerstone of the society. You will surely come across families with more than two generations living under the same roof. For them, especially for men, some limits should never be crossed, no matter what the reason is. This is why Indian families usually live in unity and harmony.
Fashion an clothing
Western fashions do affect the Indian clothing style. Hence, both men and women often wear pants, shirts and T-shirts, tank tops, etc, just like in Europe and in the US, provided these remain decent. However, traditional wear is still as important as it was years ago. Women do wear their salwar kameez and sarees daily. In villages, men feel free to wear their kurta along with their lungi or dhoti. When it comes to festivals and other celebrations such as weddings, both men and women dress up elegantly, wearing stylish jewelry and accessories. The same applies to children who are always keen about being stylish.
Indian cuisine is very varied and spicy. You will probably be surprised by the mixed tastes and flavors of different sweet and sour meals you will come across. Vegetarians can choose from a range of vegetables, pulses, etc. Most meal are accompanied by rice, naan, pharata or chapati. Non-vegetarians can also savor several types of cuisines originating from different regions, with chicken, fish and mutton. However, beef and pork are prohibited in India.
Note that garlic, ginger, black pepper, aniseeds, turmeric, chilli, cinnamon and coriander, etc, are an essential part of Indian cuisine, not to mention the famous massala which is added to most meals. You can also relish desserts and delicacies such as ras malai, rasgullas, laddoos, kheer, jalebi, barfi, halwa, as well as traditional drinks like the famous lassi, falooda, sharbat, any many others. You will simply be delighted.
Besides cinema, which includes the world famous Bollywood, India also has a wide arts heritage, involving music, singing and dance. Indeed, many Indian singers, musicians, dancers and choreographers are well known on the international level. Based on raaga, Indian music has been passed on from one generation to another through knowledge and teaching. Several classical dance styles, such as Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Dandiya Raas and Garba, as well as modern and contemporary dance, are also very popular. Note that classical dance is also taught and practiced in several countries abroad.
Handicraft is another important part of the Indian lifestyle. Indeed, you are likely to find quality handicraft products such as silk, woolen and cotton clothes, embroidered bedsheets, hand-loom sarees, as well as shoes, handbags, etc, in most cities. Moreover, the leather market, consisting of shoes, jackets, belts, purses, etc, is definitely a must during your trip. You will find high quality products at interesting prices.