March 26, 2015

What is Indian Culture?

A lot is opposed as being ‘against Indian culture’. What is Indian culture? #IndianCulture

Indian culture is a wonderful amalgamation of different food, clothing, festivals, religions, languages, dances, music, theatre, puppetry, art, architecture and I can go on and on! Culture refers to both the tangible and intangible aspects of our over five-thousand-year-old civilization. 

Tangible- Food, clothing, arts, crafts, architecture etc. are tangible aspects.

Intangible- Habits, mannerisms, dances, literature, music, theatre, oral traditions handed down since centuries etc. 

In fact, sense of appreciation for our tangible aspects of culture, is also its intangible aspect!


India with 29 states and 7 UTs is a large country. Every state is considered a mini-India being a melting pot of people from different regions, religions, castes and so on. The majority group in one region mostly influences others’ cultural practices. Largely, this cultural pot-pourri has thrived successfully through continuous adaptation and suppleness. 

However some groups have always existed who have been trying to homogenize ‘Indian culture’, creating obstacles for smooth functioning of Indian democracy. Imposition of ‘ONE SINGLE’ Indian culture is a dangerous trend. Moreover, respecting the diversity of cultural aspects is also an integral part of Indian culture. That is how, we have survived and succeeded as a nation over thousands of years. 

A thorough ‘cultural’ churning occurs all the time in India which is indeed vital for its progress and success as a nation. Having said thus, in the global village of today, new challenges are emerging. Are small groups’, tribes’ cultures getting overshadowed and lost as globalization kicks in within India? Are little known dialects being further lost forever? Are some craft and art-forms in their final phases, as the new generation is no longer interested to pursue them?

This was the larger picture of ‘Indian culture’ and some challenges faced by it. As for what it truly is, as per me, I have a small list which I feel form our culture’s essence- main focus is on intangible aspects!

a)      Greeting and smiling upon seeing others. Our ‘Namaste’ is our strength!
b)      Being grateful to others and to God for whatever we have been bestowed with. Again, one may not believe in God, yet may do ‘service to mankind’ and just be good to others; no malice- which is itself sufficient.
c)       Showing respect to elders, especially parents- by word, deed and action. [Again reminded of ‘Jab We Met’ movie- the way Geet changes Aditya’s thinking, attitude and behavior towards his mother.]
d)      Our culture is about giving love and warmth to others and being great hosts to any and every one. ‘Vasudheiva Kutumbakam’- the world is a family. That is why Indians have always prospered all around the world. Today one may go to any part of India- the common thread is warmth, love, belongingness! Unfortunately incidents of hate/violence hog headlines, but I wish the good stories of how lost travelers get help in finding the way and innumerable other such stories also be told.
e)      Education is an integral part. Not blindly earning degrees, but true education which makes a person humble, wise and builds character.
f)       One man woman. One woman man. No pre-marital sex. No extra-marital affairs. A wedlock, a man-woman relationship, where each completes the other. Yes it is ideal. May not happen. But why not aspire for it?
g)      Being respectful of women is our culture. Not raping, lynching, pouring acids over them. Not talking of them as ‘flowers’ who have to be guarded- rather treating them as equally powerful if not more.
The feminine power is considered even above Brahma. It is She who has given birth to the Universe. Without Parvati, Shiva is ‘Shava’ or a corpse. Jagannath-Lord of the Universe- will be re-born only after Maa Kakatpur Mangala gives an indication (by dream) of where to find the sacred neem woods to make the Lords’ bodies during #Nabakalebara.
Artwork titled 'Dasia Bauri' by artist Shyama Prasad Pattnaik displayed at 'Nilakandara'- recent art exhibition at Bhubaneswar

h)     Respecting our heritage- this is a fundamental duty as well as a vital part of our culture. We should treat with veneration our freedom struggle, our national symbols, our traditional medicines, our literature/arts etc. and also promote them. Else, it will be a reality that we will become the new ‘West’ while our textiles, crafts, dances, Yoga, Ayurveda etc. will be completely taken over by foreigners as their own! Sadly, it is already happening- ‘Khadi’ trademark, patenting of our herbs etc. are some glaring examples. More than 'Make in India' we need patents, trademarks for our existing unique products!


Indian culture is this enormous smorgasbord. Anything written on it will always remain inadequate. I feel I can add 100 more items to the list! Yet, please disagree to agree and pour in your comments even on this limited list!

While groups or individuals must not stifle people’s freedom in the name of ‘protecting culture’, people must also be sufficiently aware of their own limits in regard to others. Achieving such a balance is key, and is the biggest challenge facing India today. 

Let us hope everyone can dig deeper into their cultural roots and ensure better lives for themselves and for everyone else!

**Linking this post to Indispire Edition #57 and Wordless Wednesday #77

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers 



  1. Very well-expressed, Amrita.
    I agree with all your points.
    Proud to be part of this rich and multifaceted Indian Culture.
    Our culture is our responsibility.
    May we all be proud of our India.

    1. Thanks a lot Anita! Yes definitely we all may be proud of India but more important is- what are we doing to really grow India, to ensure its poor get better lives? Doing is the key. :)

  2. Well said, Amrita.

    Our culture is deep but the modern times and trying to adapt the west has made it shallow :(

    Welcome to WW and pleasure to have you on board!

    1. Thanks a lot Ruchira! Pleasure for me too! :)

  3. Wow! Well written.
    hats off to your presentation.

  4. Yes you are right Amrita, there is no fixed Indian culture but only collection of values that all Indians adhere to. These values have been 'protected' through our constitution. So if you really want to protect Indian culture, respect the constitution!

    1. Very well said! Our Constitution indeed sets out our culture & ways 2 protect them so that we can progress as a nation! :)

  5. Very well expressed and interestingly balanced take on the complex subject!

  6. Indian culture is this enormous smorgasbord. Anything written on it will always remain inadequate. I feel I can add 100 more items to the list! Yet, please disagree to agree and pour in your comments even on this limited list! well written

  7. Thanks Amrita for sharing your thoughts. It's a pity that many people, mostly youths are shying away from the very roots they have grown, partly because they are apparantly not aware of it. It's high time that we should inculcate it to them from primary school days. Let us catch them young. Keep writing.

    1. Thanks so much Biranchi Babu! Yes U r very right. When our culture becomes alien, then growing youngsters become rootless in our own pure soil. It is reality & very sad truth of material world of 2de. New age parents must teach their kids 2 b sensitive 2 our culture.


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