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A flash on Indian Culture, Traditions and Customs

India and its culture and tradition have always been intriguing to outsiders; let's discuss the reasons and logic behind a few such traditions

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May 02, 2017: Indian Culture and traditions are very distinctive from other cultures and that is one of the many reasons why it has now become renowned all across the world. India and its culture are referred to as something very diverse and unique, but we should put some thought into why things are done in certain specific ways. Indian Culture is full of several intriguing unique customs and traditions. The origin of Most of these lies in Ancient Indian scriptures and texts, which have dictated the way of life in India for thousands of years.

1. The Namaste

Namaste, Pixabay

The namaste is one of the most popular Indian customs that is so popular that today it isn’t really just restricted to the Indian territory anymore. Barack Obama has been seen doing it on various occasions, even Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, has been spotted greeting everyone with a namaste at the Times’ Square in New York on the first International Yoga Day. The Namaste, or ‘namaskar’, or ‘namaskaara’ is one of the five forms of traditional greetings mentioned the Vedas. It translates to “I bow to you”. 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 suggest the reductions of one’s ego in the presence of the other.

2. The science behind temples:

Akshardham temple, wikimedia

Most temples are located along magnetic wave lines of the earth; this scientific location helps in maximising the available positive energy. There is a copper plate (called Garbhagriha or Moolasthan) buried under the main idol that absorbs and resonates this energy to its surroundings. Because of these going to the temple frequently helps in having a positive mind and garnering positive energies, which in turn lead to healthier functioning. The practice to take off footwear before entering temple premises helps to prevent dirt to an otherwise cleansed and sanctified environment.

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3. Religious symbols:

swastika, Wikimedia

The Indian traditions and scriptures have various signs and symbols which can mean various things. For example, the usage of the Swastika actually is the symbol of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. The arms of the Swastika have various meanings; they can refer to the four Vedas, the four constellations, or the four basic aims of human pursuit.

4. Atithi Devo Bhava:

Welcoming guests, Wikimedia

The saying “Bhava Devo Bhavah” is also expressed the Indian attitude towards the world; it means “the guest is equivalent to god”. It is a Sanskrit verse taken from the Hindu scriptures which later became a part of the “Code of conduct” for Hindu society since the guest has always been of supreme importance for the host in the culture.

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5. Always a festive season:

Young people smile in Jaipur during Holi Festival, Wikimedia

Mostly because of the prevalence of diverse communities, India gets to see a large number of festivals. The Indian Muslims celebrate Eid, the Indian Christians have Christmas, good Friday and so on, the Sikhs have Baisakhi (harvesting of crop), and the birthdays of their Gurus and the Hindus have Diwali, Holi, Makar Sankranti, the Jains have Mahavir Jayanti, the Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s birthday on Buddha Poornima. To be honest, the number is endless. Of course, All of these result in holidays.

6. Joint families:

Joint families in India, Wikimedia

In India, the concept of a joint family, wherein the entire family (parents, wife, children and in some cases relatives) all live together is very popular in India, even though today that has changed due to busy lives. The cohesive nature of the Indian society is the primary reason behind the joint family tradition. Also, this is helpful in handling pressure and stress.

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7. Indian ethnic wear:

Traditional Indian Dress, Pixabay

The most sported ethnic wear by Indian women is the ‘Sari’, a single cloth that needs no stitching, easy to make, comfortable to wear and also adheres to religious etiquette. Today this originally Hindu get-up has become popular in all religions. The same can be applied to the more functional ‘Kurta-Pyjama’, and the ceremonial wear off ‘Sherwani’ for Indian men of all religions.

Thousands of traditions co-exist in the subcontinent of India, and quite a few of them would leave outsiders rather curious. But the mojo of Indian society and tradition and its universal acceptance lies in its authenticity, well mannered, polite, respectful teachings and the unity in diversity.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

World Hindu Congress, Hindu
Hindus don’t oppose anyone, don’t aspire to dominate: RSS chief

“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

Hindu, Mosque
Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)