India is known as the land of spices! From north to south, east to west, there is a large variety of food found in India.
Mughlai food is a famous North Indian cuisine made with a blend of spices, cream and vegetables or meat. It is enjoyed best when eaten with Indian breads called Naan and Tandoori Roti or white rice. Flour pancakes called Paranthas made with a choice of potatoes, cauliflower, or minced meat stuffing is a popular food for breakfast and lunch. Chhole bhature is a tasty combination of spicy chickpeas and deep fried dough famous all over the country. Biryani is an-all time favorite (pilaf) rice amongst many Indians. It can be made with mixed vegetables or meat.
Dosa and idli are famous rice based South Indian dishes that are usually eaten with a lentil soup called sambar. Indian sweets like bread or rice puddings called kheer, sweetened milk rolls called rasgulla and sweet fried dough called gulab jamun are a treat to the sweet tooth.
The sari is the most traditional piece of clothing worn in India. It is 9 yards of cloth elegantly draped by most Indian women. It comes in a variety of colors, design and fabric so it can be worn on all occasions as well as weddings.
Kurta-pajama or salwaar-kameez is a traditional two-piece set of tunic with pants and a scarf worn casually by many Indian men and women. Children and younger adults usually wear western outfits.
Festivals, holidays, Celebrations:
Diwali is the biggest Hindu celebration in India and marks the beginning of the Indian New Year. It is called the festival of lights and celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Besides Diwali, Holi and Rakhi are popular festivals. Holi is the celebration of colors and Rakhi is the celebration of the brother-sister relationship. Many more such festivals like Ganeshchaturthi, Navratri, Karwachauth, Onam, Baisakhi, Lohri, etc are celebrated in India that spread the message of love, peace and happiness. Many Indians celebrate Eid and Christmas as well.
August 15 – Indian Independence Day, January 26 – Indian Republic Day, October 2 – Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi’s birthday) are official holidays in India. One special school holiday celebrated is on the birthday of India’s late Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru (November 14) who was very fond of kids.
Famous Stories or Epics:
Ramayana and Mahabharata are the oldest and most well known religious epics of India. Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama and his heroic deeds. Mahabharata is a tale of two families, namely the Pandavas and the Kauravas who fight a battle against one another to be the next king. Both stories are extremely long and detailed filled with drama, action and a moral that explains karma, which means, good things happen to people who do good to others and bad things happen to those who do bad to others.
One very popular Indian game played by all ages in India especially Indian children is the game of Antakshari. It is a music-based fun game that involves singing Indian movie songs. Two or more teams sing in turns starting from the last letter of the previous song sung by the other team. It is point based and the team that earns maximum points wins the game.
Verbal or nonverbal communication:
Namaste is a common form of greeting used by most Indians with both hands joined together as in prayer. Touching the feet of elders is considered a form of paying respect. India is the birthplace of Yoga. Yoga is the oldest and most popular form of meditation now practiced all over the world. It involves making a series of postures that are good for the body and mind.
Indians generally are God fearing and religious people. They strongly believe in the existence of God and His divine powers. Hindus worship idols of many Gods and Goddesses and follow various rituals and superstitions.
Also most Families in India live together as one big family. For example, children live with their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all in one house. Indians believe that joined families provide love, respect, help and support amongst the family members.
There are 26 states in India and almost each of them has their own language. Hindi is the national language of India and there are 15 other regional languages spoken in the rest of the states. Each state also has its own dress, food, custom, dance, music and art. India is a country of all kinds of people from many different backgrounds and cultures.
The Indian movie industry called Bollywood is perhaps as big as Hollywood today. The interesting thing about Indian movies is that they are mostly musical each including a variety of songs and dances.
The Taj Mahal of Agra, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and India’s most famous tourist attraction. It is a monument built completely in lovely white marble. Jaipur located in the state of Rajasthan commonly known as the Pink City of India is famous for its beautiful palaces. These palaces are massive and mostly built in pink and red stone. Guests who stay in some of these palace-like hotels are also treated like Maharajas and Maharanis (kings and queens of India). Mumbai situated in the state of Maharashtra, is one of the most important and popular cities in the world. It is compared to New York City of the United States for various reasons. Mumbai offers the best of shopping, food and entertainment. It is a must visit for tourists as well as Indians.