India and Culture
About Indian Culture
India has a rich and unique cultural heritage as well as an actively preserved established traditions throughout history. It has also absorbed customs from both invaders and immigrants. Many cultural practices and monuments, such as the Taj Mahal and other Islamic architecture, have been inherited from the rule of Mughal emperors.
Religion in India is very important, with many practices imbued with pomp and vitality accompanying their underlying spiritual qualities. A melting pot of many religions, India has rich festivals celebrated by one and all. The most widely known and popular celebrations include the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi and Dussera.
Indian music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The two main forms in terms of classical music are the Carnatic from South India and Hindustani from the north. Popular forms of music also prevail, the most notable being Filmi music. Other selections include diverse traditions of folk music. Many dance forms exist in India – Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and others. They often have a narrative form (based on the Indian epics) and are usually infused with devotional and spiritual elements.
The earliest literary traditions were mostly oral and were later transcribed. Most of these spring from Hindu tradition and are represented by sacred works like the Vedas and the epics of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Sangam literature from Tamil Nadu represents some of India's oldest secular traditions. There have been many notable Indian writers in modern times, both in Indian languages and English. India's only Nobel laureate in literature was the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore.
India produces the world's highest number of films annually. The most recognisable face is that of Bollywood, based in Mumbai, which produces mainly commercial Hindi films. Cinema in other language bases is particularly strong, with movies regularly produced in well-established Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu industries. India's gift to cinema world is the internationally renowned Bengali language director Satyajit Ray.
Traditional dress in India greatly varies across the regions in its colours and styles. The sari and salwar kameez are popular styles of dress for women. Traditional raiments for men are the kurta and dhoti.