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Study Material For Indian Culture – Art, Architecture and Literature

In India today,with a growing economy due to liberalization and more consumption than ever in middle class life, food as something to be enjoyed and as part of Indian culture is a popular topic. From a s food economy verging on famine, India is now a society where food appears plentiful, and the aesthetic possibilities are staggering.

Cooking shows that demonstrate culinary skills on television, often with celebrity chefs or unknown local housewives who may have won a competition, dominate daytime ratings. Local indigenous specialties and ways of cooking are the subjects of domestic and international tourism brochures.

Metropolitan restaurants featuring international cuisines are filled with customers. Yet lifestyle magazines tout healthy food, nutritious diets, locally sourced ingredients, and sustainable and green alternatives.

As Harvard anthropologist Theodore Bestor reminds us, the culinary imagination is a way a culture conceptualizes and imagines food. Because of this diversity and its celebration, most Indians appreciate a wide array of flavors and textures and are traditionally discerning consumers who eat seasonally, locally, and, to a large extent, sustainably.

However, despite some resistance in recent years, the entry of multinational food corporations and their mimicking by Indian food giants, the industrialization of agriculture, the ubiquity of standardized food crops, and the standardization of food and tastes in urban areas have stimulated a flattening of the food terrain.

In the recurring identity crises that globalization seems to encourage, one would expect that food would play a significant part in dialogues about nationalism and Indian identities. But food in India has been virtually absent from the academic discourse because of the diversity and spread of the gastronomic landscape. Things are different on the Internet. In response to the forces of globalization and Indian food blogs both teaching cookery and commenting on food, are mushrooming in cyberspace.

India has several thousand castes and tribes, sixteen official languages and several hundred dialects, six major world religions, and many ethnic and linguistic groups. Food in India is an identity marker of caste, class, family, kin- ship, tribe affiliation, lineage, religiosity, ethnicity, and increasingly, of secular group identification. How one eats, what one eats, with whom, when, and why, is key to understanding the Indian social landscape as well as the relationships, emotions, statuses, and transactions of people within it.

But historically in India, food consumption has also paradoxically been governed by under- standings that lean toward asceticism and self-control as well. Traditional Ayurvedic Hindu and Unani Muslim medical systems have a tripartite categorization of the body on its reaction to foods. In Ayurveda, the body is classified as kapha cold and phlegmy , vaata mobile and flatulent , or pitta hot and liverish , and food consumption is thus linked not only to overall feelings of well being and balance but to personality disorders and traits as well.

Eating prescribed foods sattvic foods that cool the senses versus rajasic foods that inflame the passions and doing yoga and breathing exercises to balance the body, spirit, and mind are seen as very basic self-care and self-fashioning. This appreciation and negation of gastronomic pleasure is made more complex by caste- and religion-based purity as well as pollution taboos. With some exceptions, since the early twelfth century, upper-caste Hindus, Jains, and some regional groups are largely vegetarian and espouse ahimsa nonviolence.

Often upper castes will not eat onions, garlic, or processed food, believing them to violate principles of purity. Some lower-caste Hindus are meat eaters, but beef is forbidden as the cow is deemed sacred, and this purity barrier encompasses the entire caste and religious system. As the eminent pioneering anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss noted, there is a sharp distinction between cooked and uncooked foods, with cooked or processed food capable of being contaminated with pollution easier than uncooked food.

For upper-caste Hindus, raw rice is deemed pure even if served by a lower-caste person, but cooked rice can carry pollution when coming in contact with anything polluting, including low-caste servers. Religion also plays a part in dietetic rules; Muslims in India may eat beef, mutton, and poultry but not pork or shellfish; Christians may eat all meats and poultry; and Parsis eat more poultry and lamb than other meats. However, as many scholars have noted, because of the dominance of Hinduism in India and the striving of many lower-caste people for social mobility through imitation of higher-caste propensities, vegetarianism has evolved as the default diet in the subcontinent.

Most meals would be considered complete without meat protein. India sought to define itself gastronomically in the face of colonization beginning in the twelfth century.

First, Central Asian invaders formed several dynasties known as the Sultanates from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Then, the great Mughal dynasty ruled from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The British came to trade as the East India Company, stayed as the Crown from the eighteenth century until , and then had their heyday as the British Raj from to The Mughals brought new foods to the subcontinent from Central Asia, including dried fruits, pilafs, leavened wheat breads, stuffed meat, poultry, and fruits.

The Mughals also brought new cooking processes such as baking bread and cooking meat on skewers in the tandoor a clay oven , braising meats and poultry, tenderizing meats and game using yogurt protein, and making native cheese. They borrowed indigenous ingredients such as spices cardamom, pepper, and clove and vegetables eggplant from India and carrots from Afghanistan to cook their foods, creating a unique Mughlai haute courtly cuisine. From princely kitchens, the cuisine has made its way over the centuries to restaurants in major cities.

In neighborhood Punjabi and Mughlai restaurants in metropolitan centers, the menu usually consists of dishes of meat and poultry that are heavily marinated with spices, then grilled and braised in thick tomato or cream-based sauces and served with indigenous leavened breads such as naan and rice dishes with vegetables and meats such as pilafs and biryani.

These foods, in popular, mass-customized versions, are the staples of the dhabhas highway eateries all over India. The British and other Western powers—including most importantly Portugal—came to India in search of spices to preserve meats, but the age of empire dictated culinary exchanges.

India received potatoes, tomatoes, and chilies from the New World, and all became an integral part of the cuisine. The British traded spices and provided the technology and plant material and even transported labor to produce sugar in the West Indies.

These dishes were later adapted to the metropolitan Indian table for the officers of the Indian army and British-Indian club menus. Western cuisine is no longer just British colonial cuisine with these additions but a mosaic of specific national cuisines where Italian, and more recently, Mexican foods dominate, as these cuisines easily absorb the spices needed to stimulate Indian palates. Despite this diversity, there are regional differences.

Some observers con- tend that the Punjab—the Western region of the Indo-Gangetic plain of north India—is the breadbasket of the country. The region grows vast quantities of wheat that is milled and made into leavened oven-baked breads such as naan; unleavened griddle-baked breads such a chapattis , phulkas , and rumali rotis ; and stuffed griddle-fried breads such as kulcha and paratha. These breads are often eaten with vegetable or meat dishes.

In the south, by contrast, rice is the staple grain. It is dehusked, steamed, and often eaten with spice-based vegetables and sometimes meat-based gravy dishes. Contemporary India celebrates cuisine from local areas and culinary processes. The history of India, combined with its size, population, and lack of adequate transportation, left it with a heritage of finely developed local delicacies and a connoisseur population trained in appreciation of difference, seasonality, methods of preparation, taste, regionality, climate, diversity, and history though largely in an unselfconscious manner until very recently.

Domestic food tourism creates and sustains a vibrant culinary imagination and a gastronomic landscape, both within and outside India. The Indian meal is a complex and little-understood phenomenon. Indian meals can have huge variations across the subcontinent, and any of these components in different orders and with different ingredients might constitute an Indian meal.

When a multi-dish meal is served on a large platter in north India, the serving utensil is usually made of silver for purity. A banana leaf might be the main platter for a south Indian festival. In either case, there are various small bowls for each dish. This kind of meal is called a thali and is named for the platter on which it is served.

Festival meals usually end with a digestive in the form of a paan betel leaf and nut folded together , which again has regional variations of style and taste. Rice is a powerful symbol of both hunger and want as well as fulfillment and fertility.

Until the late nineteenth century, however, only the wealthy ate rice, and most Indians consumed millet and sorghum. Nevertheless, the powerful symbolism of rice as a sign of fertility for many castes makes it part of marriage rites.

Welcoming a new bride to the family home includes having her kick over a measure of rice to indicate that she brings prosperity to the household. Efforts of the Indian government to protect Indian basmati rice failed, and now two types of American basmati exist, a situation many Indians consider shameful.

In India as elsewhere, food culture is shaped by climate, land, and access to natural resources. This emphasis is based upon a belief that in-season foods are more potent, tastier, and of greater nutritional value, although the yearround availability of many foods due to technology are beginning to change eating habits.

For example, prior to the ripened mango harvest of May and June, tiny unripe mangoes are harvested and pick- led in brine. The ripe mango and the pickled mango are the same species but are clearly different culinary tropes with different characteristics that are some- times attributed with fortifying, healing, auspicious, and celebratory values, based on taste, color, and combination. Connoisseurs are aware of desirable foods in local areas and sometimes travel great distances to acquire the first or best product of the season.

Seasonality and regionality are also part of wed- ding celebrations, funerary rites, and domestic feasts. Religious festivals also align with culinary cycles, festivals, or sacred periods of the year that are often associated with offerings to the gods and feasting on certain foods.

The south Indian Harvest festival of Pongal in February is accompanied by a feast of harvested rice cooked with lentils in three different dishes, shakkarai pongal Tamil-sweet , ven pongal Tamil-savory , and akkara vadashal Tamil-milk , accompanied by a stew of nine different winter vegetables and beans, offered first to tutelary deities and then consumed as consecrated food. Temples, especially those dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, have a long history of developed culinary traditions and food- offering aesthetics.

The Krishna Temple in the south Indian temple town of Udupi is known throughout India for the distribution of free seasonal meals to thousands of devotees.

Other temples are known for offerings of certain sweets or savories of that region or enormous and detailed menus of offerings from the land. In the past two decades, with India becoming an economic powerhouse, a variety of multinational fast food companies have entered the previously protected Indian culinary landscape. At the same time, local food purveyors have taken complex regional recipes and modified them for ease of industrial production, leading to a pack- aged food boom in India.

Formerly, the focus was upon rural, natural, fresh, and prepared on-site food. Now, there is a shift in emphasis to industrialized, processed food. These developments are partially reengineering local and caste-based special- ties for mass production, distribution, and consumption, changing past notions of what is traditional or valued.

Another aspect of globalization is the phenomenon of branding an Indian cuisine, largely the product of curry houses in the United Kingdom. Indian food, as it is billed outside India, is the reimagined second-tier fare of north Indian eateries, a blend of Punjabi and Mughlai cuisine modified to suit the local taste.

Whatever the larger motivations and readings, it is clear that the spread of South Asian restaurants and curry houses in the UK has brought with it welcome changes in the British diet. Some scholars have suggested that Indian food is filtered through Great Britain to the world, though diasporic Indian groups have also contributed. The cultures of contemporary Indian cuisine, including the politics, food processes, production, and consumption, are simultaneously changing and exhilarating.

Further innovation and increased attention to Indian cuisine will almost certainly occur and promises to be an exciting area of innovation and critical research in the future. Appadurai, Arjun. Bagla, Pallava and Subhadra Menon. Banerji, Chitrita. London: Bloomsbury, Bestor, Theodore. London: Routledge Press, Bhuyan, Aroonim. Collingham, Lizzie. Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. New York: Oxford University Press, Goody, Jack.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Religion and Culture

Hinduism , major world religion originating on the Indian subcontinent and comprising several and varied systems of philosophy , belief, and ritual. Although the name Hinduism is relatively new, having been coined by British writers in the first decades of the 19th century, it refers to a rich cumulative tradition of texts and practices, some of which date to the 2nd millennium bce or possibly earlier. If the Indus valley civilization 3rd—2nd millennium bce was the earliest source of these traditions, as some scholars hold, then Hinduism is the oldest living religion on Earth. Its many sacred texts in Sanskrit and vernacular languages served as a vehicle for spreading the religion to other parts of the world, though ritual and the visual and performing arts also played a significant role in its transmission. From about the 4th century ce , Hinduism had a dominant presence in Southeast Asia , one that would last for more than 1, years. Despite its global presence, however, it is best understood through its many distinctive regional manifestations.

16 Unique Culture of India : Customs & Indian Traditions

Religion has historically influenced Indian society on a political, cultural and economic level. Moreover, while a majority of people in India identify as Hindu In India, religion is more publicly visible than it is in most English-speaking Western countries. This becomes evident when considering the numerous spaces that are thought to be sacred and holy.

Download your free copy here. Religion and culture seem like complex ideas to study from the perspective of International Relations. After all, scholars and philosophers have long debated the meaning of these terms and the impact they have had on our comprehension of the social world around us. So is it an impossibly complicated task to study religion and culture at the global level?

16 Unique Culture of India : Customs & Indian Traditions

Culture of India

The Namaste is one of the most popular Indian customs and isn't just restricted to the Indian territory anymore. But, what's the significance? It translates to 'I bow to you', and greeting one another with it is a way of saying 'May our minds meet', indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The word Namaha can also be translated as 'na ma' not mine , to signify the reductions of one's ego in the presence of the other.

Indian society is collectivistic and promotes social cohesion and interdependence. The traditional Indian joint family, which follows the same principles of collectivism, has proved itself to be an excellent resource for the care of the mentally ill. However, the society is changing with one of the most significant alterations being the disintegration of the joint family and the rise of nuclear and extended family system. Although even in today's changed scenario, the family forms a resource for mental health that the country cannot neglect, yet utilization of family in management of mental disorders is minimal. Family focused psychotherapeutic interventions might be the right tool for greater involvement of families in management of their mentally ill and it may pave the path for a deeper community focused treatment in mental disorders.

India is characterized by more ethnic and religious groups than most other countries of the world. Aside from the much noted odd castes, there are eight "major" religions, odd languages spoken in various dialects in 22 states and nine union territories, and a substantial number of tribes and sects. Three ethnic or religious conflicts have stood out of late: two occurred in the states of "Assam and Punjab; another, the more widely known Hindu-Muslim conflict, continues to persist. The Assam problem is primarily ethnic, the Punjab problem is based on both religious and regional conflicts, while the Hindu-Muslim problem is predominantly religious. Of the three conflicts mentioned, Assam has attracted the largest attention of late. Not since the partition of India have so many people been killed and uprooted as a result of ethnic or communal violence.


Culture, Tradition and Religion: a critical analysis of two generations, the young and the old in Caminho das Índias. Sudha Swarnakar1. A display of Indian.


You will gain an understanding of a number of key areas including:. If you want to learn about Indian culture at a greater depth, then sign up for our e-Learning Course on India. Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Indian culture and the people; it can not account for the diversity within Indian society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Indian people you may meet! English is used primarily in business, and for economic and political purposes.

Religion in India Census [1]. Religion in India is characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. The preamble of the Indian constitution states that India is a secular state.

In India today,with a growing economy due to liberalization and more consumption than ever in middle class life, food as something to be enjoyed and as part of Indian culture is a popular topic. From a s food economy verging on famine, India is now a society where food appears plentiful, and the aesthetic possibilities are staggering. Cooking shows that demonstrate culinary skills on television, often with celebrity chefs or unknown local housewives who may have won a competition, dominate daytime ratings.

Indian culture 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 South Asia and Southeast Asia. India's languages , religions , dance , music , architecture , food and customs differ from place to place within the country.

1 Comments

Alicia B. 17.05.2021 at 21:41

India is known for the moral ethos of its people.

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