The culture of India or Indian culture, sometimes equated to Indian civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with the Indian subcontinent. The term also applies beyond India to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to India by immigration, colonization, or influence, particularly in Southeast Asia. India’s languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food and customs differ from place to place within the country.
Indian culture, often labelled as an amalgamation of several cultures, has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old, beginning with the Indus Valley Civilization. Many elements of Indian culture, such as Indian religions, mathematics, philosophy, cuisine, languages, dance, music and movies have had a profound impact across the Indosphere, Greater India and the world.
Indian-origin religions Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, are all based on the concepts of dharma and karma. Ahimsa, philosophy of nonviolence, is an important aspect of native Indian faiths whose most well known proponent was Mahatma Gandhi who through civil disobedience brought India together against the British Raj and this philosophy further inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American civil rights movement. Foreign-origin religion, including Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are also present in India, as well as Zoroastrianism and Baháʼí Faith both escaping persecution by Islam have also found shelter in India over the centuries.
India has 28 states with different culture and the second most populated country in the world. The Indian culture, often labelled as an amalgamation of several various cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced and shaped by a history that is several thousand years old. Throughout the history of India, Indian culture has been heavily influenced by Dharmic religions. They have been credited with shaping much of Indian philosophy, literature, architecture, art and music. Greater India was the historical extent of Indian culture beyond the Indian subcontinent. This particularly concerns the spread of Hinduism, Buddhism, architecture, administration and writing system from India to other parts of Asia through the Silk Road by the travellers and maritime traders during the early centuries of the Common Era. To the west, Greater India overlaps with Greater Persia in the Hindu Kush and the Pamir Mountains. Over the centuries, there has been a significant fusion of cultures between Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs and various tribal populations in India.
India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and other religions. They are collectively known as Indian religions. Indian religions are a major form of world religions along with Abrahamic ones. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world’s third and fourth-largest religions respectively, with over 2 billion followers altogether, and possibly as many as 2.5 or 2.6 billion followers. Followers of Indian religions – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists make up around 80–82% population of India.
India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion plays a central and definitive role in the life of many of its people. Although India is a secular Hindu-majority country, it has a large Muslim population. Except for Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Lakshadweep, Hindus form the predominant population in all 28 states and 9 union territories. Muslims are present throughout India, with large populations in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam; while only Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep have majority Muslim populations. Sikhs and Christians are other significant minorities of India.
According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practice Hinduism. Islam (14.2%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.7%), Buddhism (0.7%) and Jainism (0.4%) are the other major religions followed by the people of India. Many tribal religions, such as Sarnaism, (adism )are found in India, though these have been affected by major religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Baháʼí Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Atheism and agnostics also have visible influence in India, along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other faiths. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, India will have the world’s largest populations of Hindus and Muslims by 2050. India is expected to have about 311 million Muslims making up around 19–20% of the population and yet about 1.3 billion Hindus are projected to live in India comprising around 76% of the population.
Atheism and agnosticism have a long history in India and flourished within the Śramaṇa movement. The Cārvāka school originated in India around the 6th century BCE. It is one of the earliest forms of materialistic and atheistic movement in ancient India. Sramana, Buddhism, Jainism, Ājīvika and some schools of Hinduism consider atheism to be valid and reject the concept of a creator deity, ritualism and superstitions. India has produced some notable atheist politicians and social reformers. According to the 2012 WIN-Gallup Global Index of Religion and Atheism report, 81% of Indians were religious, 13% were not religious, 3% were convinced atheists, and 3% were unsure or did not respond.
Indian philosophy comprises the philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. There are six schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta—and four heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ājīvika and Cārvāka – last two are also schools of Hinduism. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyarania for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions. Since medieval India (ca.1000–1500), schools of Indian philosophical thought have been classified by the Brahmanical tradition as either orthodox or non-orthodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on whether they regard the Vedas as an infallible source of knowledge.
The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. According to philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the earliest of these, which date back to the composition of the Upanishads in the later Vedic period (1000–500 BCE), constitute “the earliest philosophical compositions of the world.” Competition and integration between the various schools were intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Śaiva and Advaita Vedanta survived, but others, like Samkhya and Ājīvika, did not; they were either assimilated or became extinct. Subsequent centuries produced commentaries and reformulations continuing up to as late as the 20th century. Authors who gave contemporary meaning to traditional philosophies include Shrimad Rajchandra, Swami Vivekananda, Ram Mohan Roy, and Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
India, being a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. The three national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti, are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many Indian states and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri, Janmashtami, Diwali, Maha Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Holi, Rath Yatra, Ugadi, Vasant Panchami, Rakshabandhan, and Dussehra. Several harvest festivals such as Makar Sankranti, Sohrai, Pusnâ, Hornbill, Chapchar Kut, Pongal, Onam and Raja sankaranti swinging festival are also fairly popular.
India celebrates a variety of festivals due to the large diversity of India. Many Religious festivals like Diwali (Hindu) Eid (Muslim) Christmas (Christian), etc. are celebrated by all. The government also provides facilities for the celebration of all religious festivals with equality and grants road bookings, security, etc. providing equality to the diverse religions and their festivals..
Chapchar Kut cheraw dance in Mizoram. Chapchar Kut festival is celebrated during March after completion of their most arduous task of Jhum operation i.e., jungle-clearing (clearing of the remnants of burning).The Indian New Year festival is celebrated in different parts of India with a unique style at different times. Ugadi, Bihu, Gudhi Padwa, Puthandu, Vaisakhi, Pohela Boishakh, Vishu and Vishuva Sankranti are the New Year festival of different part of India.
Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains across the country and Buddha Purnima, Krishna Janmashtami, Ambedkar Jayanti celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus. Sikh festivals, such as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Baisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab and Delhi where the two communities together form an overwhelming majority of the population. Adding colours to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of India. Nowruz is the most important festival among the Parsi community of India.
Islam in India is the second-largest religion with over 172 million Muslims, according to India’s 2011 census. The Islamic festivals which are observed and are declared a public holiday in India are; Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (Bakri Eid), Milad-un-Nabi, Muharram and Shab-e-Barat. Some of the Indian states have declared regional holidays for the particular regional popular festivals; such as Arba’een, Jumu’ah-tul-Wida and Shab-e-Qadar. Christianity is India’s third-largest religion. With over 23 million Christians, of which 17 million are Roman Catholics, India is home to many Christian festivals. The country celebrates Christmas and Good Friday as public holidays. Regional and community fairs are also a common festival in India. For example, the Pushkar Fair of Rajasthan is one of the world’s largest markets of cattle and livestock.
Respecting and greetings
Greetings include Namaste (Hindi and Sanskrit), Namaskar (Hindi), Namaskaara/Juhaara in Odia, Namaskar (Marathi), Namaskara (Kannada), Namaskaram (Telugu, Malayalam), Vanakkam (Tamil), Nomoshkaar (Bengali), Nomoskar (Assamese), Aadab (Urdu), and Sat Shri Akal (Punjabi). All these are commonly spoken greetings or salutations when people meet and are forms of farewell when they depart. Namaskar is considered slightly more formal than Namaste but both express deep respect.
Namaskar is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands folded gesture may be made wordlessly or said without the folded hand gesture. The word is derived from Sanskrit (namah): to bow, reverential salutation, and respect, and (te): “to you”. Taken literally, it means “I bow to you”. In Hinduism it means “I bow to the divine in you.”In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek the blessing of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders. This custom is known as Pranāma.
include Jai Jagannath (used in Odia)
Ami Aschi (used in Bengali),
Jai Shri Krishna (in Gujarati and the Braj Bhasha and Rajasthani dialects of Hindi),
Ram Ram/(Jai) Sita Ram ji (Awadhi and Bhojpuri dialects of Hindi and other Bihari dialects),
and Sat Sri Akal (Punjabi; used by followers of Sikhism),
As-salamu alaykum (Urdu; used by follower of Islam),
Jai Jinendra (a common greeting used by followers of Jainism),
Jai Bhim (used by followers of Ambedkarism),
Namo Buddhay (used by followers of Buddhism),
Allah Abho (used by followers of the Baháʼí Faith),
Shalom aleichem (used by followers of Judaism),
Hamazor Hama Ashobed (used by followers of Zoroastrianism),
Sahebji (Persian and Gujarati; used by the Parsi people),
Dorood (Persian and Gujarati; used by the Irani people),
Om Namah Shivaya/Jai Bholenath Jaidev (used in Dogri and Kashmiri, also used in the city of Varanasi),
Jai Ambe Maa/Jai Mata di (used in Eastern India), Jai Ganapati Bapa (used in Marathi and Konkani), etc.
These traditional forms of greeting may be absent in the world of business and in India’s urban environment, where a handshake is a common form of greeting