"EXPIRIENCE INDIA" siwaydi's Profile

India's History

The history of India begins with the Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent, from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE. Its Mature Harappan period lasted from 2600-1900 BCE. This Bronze Age civilization collapsed at the beginning of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Iron Age Vedic period, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains and which witnessed the rise of major kingdoms known as the Mahajanapadas. In two of these, in the 6th century BCE, Mahavira and Gautama Buddha were born, who propagated their Shramanic philosophies among the masses.

Later, successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region and enriched its culture - from the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, to Alexander the Great in 326 BCE. The Indo-Greek Kingdom, founded by Demetrius of Bactria, included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE; it reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture.

The subcontinent was united under the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. It subsequently became fragmented, with various parts ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next ten centuries. Its northern regions were united once again in the 4th century CE, and remained so for two centuries thereafter, under the Gupta Empire. This period, of Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known among its admirers as the "Golden Age of India." During the same time, and for several centuries afterwards, Southern India, under the rule of the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas and Pandyas, experienced its own golden age, during which Hinduism and Buddhism spread to much of south-east Asia.

India's Culture

The culture of India has been shaped by the long history of India, its unique geography and the absorption of customs, traditions and ideas from some of its neighbors as well as by preserving its ancient heritages, from the Indus Valley Civilization onward. India's great diversity of cultural practices, languages, customs, and traditions are examples of this unique co-mingling over the past five millennea. India is also the birth place of several religious systems such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, some of which have had a great influence also in other parts of the world. From the thirteenth century onwards, following the Islamic conquests and the subsequent European colonialization, the culture of India was influenced by Turkish, Persian, Arabic and English cultures.

Their Religion

Indian religions, a major form of world religions next to the Abrahamic) ones, include Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third- and fourth-largest religions respectively, with some 1.4 billion followers.

The religion of more than 80.4% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by around 13.4% of all Indians. Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Despite the strong role of religion in Indian life, atheism and agnostics also have visible influence.

Language in India

The great number of languages in India have added to the diverse cultures and traditions at both regional and national levels. 216 languages are spoken by a group of more than 10,000 people; however there are many others which are spoken by fewer than 10,000 people. All together, there are 415 living languages in India. The Constitution of India has stipulated the usage of Hindi and English to be the two official languages of communication for the Union Government. Individual state's own internal communications are done in the state's language. The two major linguistic families in India are those of the Indo-Aryan languages and the Dravidian languages, the former being largely confined to northern, western, central and eastern India and the latter to southern India.

India's Climate

The climate of India comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography, making generalisations difficult. Analysed according to the Köppen system, India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. The nation has four seasons: winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December).

The People of India

India is a fascinating country where people of many different communities and religions live together in harmony. The diversity of India makes it a mini-continent. There are many diverse ethnic groups among the people of India. The people of India range from the tall, fair and fine featured Kashmiris to the Dravidian people of the South. See the contrast between the burly Sikhs of the Punjab to the Mongoloid tribes of North East India. The people of India are an amazing mixture of races and cultures.

The inflows of invaders at different periods in Indian history and their assimilation into the local population, has led to the heterogeneous population of India. The Europoid Aryans, the dark skinned Dravidians, the Mongoloid communities of the North East and the Negrito tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands make up the different ethnic communities and races of India.

The number of languages spoken by the people of India reflect this ethnic diversity. Languages that belong to the Indo-Aryan family of languages are spoken in Northern India. Hindi being the most prevalent. The Dravidian languages of South India, include Telegu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam.

Traditional dress by age

Women's Clothing

The traditional style of clothing in southern India varies with age. This is still followed in the rural areas, though is changing in the urban areas. Girls under the age of 5-7 wear a long skirt (called langa/paawada in Andhra) and a short blouse, called a choli, on top of it. Teenage girls wear half-sarees, a three piece set comprising of a langa, a choli and a stole wraped over it like a saree. Women usually wear full sarees.

A sari is a wide strip of fabric that is several yards long, and draped around the body with pallu on the shoulder depending on the wearer's location, social status, and preference. Under the saree, women wear a pavada (a long, close-fitting skirt) and a choli, often in coordinating fabric. Sarees are traditionally made of lightweight silk, although modern versions are sometimes being produced from cotton blends. Sarees are unsually richly dyed and decorated. Often, a wide border runs the whole length of the saree, traditionally in raised gold fabic.

*Salwar kameez and dupatta
The salwar kameez is another form of popular dress for females. It consists of loose trousers (the salwar) topped by a long loose shirt (the kameez). It originates from the Muslim invaders from Turkey and Afghanistan. For a long time it was considered a "Muslim dress" but now has become popular all across India, as well as other South Asian countries. Due to its Muslim origin, it is very common in Pakistan and Afganistan. It is commonly worn with a narrow scarf called a dupatta, which can be used to cover the head, or just draped over the shoulders. The salwar kameez is most common in the northwestern part of India.

*Lehenga, choli, and odhani
The women of Rajasthan and Gujarat often wear colorful swirling skirts called lehenga, paired with a short bodice called a choli. If they must cover their heads, they do so with bright veils called odhani.

*Tribal Styles
Tribal styles vary greatly, but usually correspond with the same styles as salwaar kameez, choli, and other Indian dress. These uniforms are often rich in colour

Men's clothing

The most common male attire consists of the dhoti and kurta, worn in most of the western and central regions. A sherwani is typically worn for special occasions. Men of northern India and the Punjab may also wear salwar kameez, often in plain white cotton, and top the kameez with a dark waistcoat. The lungi (a type of wrap-around garment) is worn in many parts of India, but depending on the social practices of the region it may be restricted to indoor-wear only.

  • Intro Updated Jul 7, 2008
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