Cultural Habits and Manners of India
The cultural habits and manners of the people of a nation have their roots in the ideals and values that a people have their roots in the ideals and values which that nation has cherished and nurtured historically. The ideals and values that people have held dear and have striven to live up to, manifest themselves in the habits, manners, and attitudes of that people. They are a reflection of the cultural heritage of a nation. Historical events, of course, will have their inevitable and inescapable impact on the life of a people, and they have in the case of our nation too. India has had its share of political and economic upheavals: but the vitality of its culture has been such that its fundamentals have remained the same and as strong as ever. It has survived the vicissitudes of history and its spirit has remained intact. The vision that inspired our ancestors five thousand years ago is still with us, giving meaning and purpose to our existence.
Ways of life may vary in this vast subcontinent from region to region; however, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the basic quality of the culture of the people is spirituality. The sense of the infinite or the vision of a timeless universe is native to the land. Baba says that Indian culture is born of the heart, by which He means that love of God and of all God’s creation is fundamental to Indian culture. In Indian tradition, spiritual values hold supremacy over all materialistic considerations, and the belief that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical, i.e., God. In Indian thinking, therefore, everything has to be guided in the perspective of truth. One’s spiritual kinship with all, the oneness of all beings, the unity of all existence, and the universality of the Spirit of God- such eternal truths have been the basic principles that have been guiding, governing and nurturing Indian culture over the ages. Asks Baba: “why is that even if accidentally your foot hits against or touches the body of another person you bow down and do namaskar to that part of the body of that person? ”it is because,” Baba explains, “the Indian belief is that God exists everywhere and that everything is holy and sacred.”
Talking about culture in general, actually no accurate or comprehensive definition of this word, ‘culture’, is possible. Dr. V.K.Gokak has however, provided us with a reasonably good definition, which may be paraphrased as the pursuit of perfection in all walks of life. Besides one’s own habits, attitudes and manners, says Gokak, it covers society as well. It is, as he adds, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, customs, as well as moral and spiritual values.” In this context, the Indian concept of culture is broad enough to embrace all the aspects of life of its people.
Although Indian culture has its uniquely native qualities that have stood the test of time, it has been indifferent to foreign cultures that have come to its shores. We have absorbed Islamic, Portuguese, French, and most important British influences. The people of India have never closed their doors to outsiders whose culture and religion are different from theirs. India has never prevented the growth of any religious faith; it has always extended its warm hospitality to whosoever came and propagated their faith here. Indians welcomed Jews and the Zoroastrians who were persecuted elsewhere in the world. It may be said that India’s culture, though very Indian at its core, is, in its broad features, a synthesis of many cultures presently.
The impact of the mingling of cultures is particularly evident in the development of Indian fine arts, Indian languages, and in the ceremonies and rituals of the Indian people.
A broad outline of the physical features of our country will tell us why the eating and clothing habits of Indians vary from place to place. India is the seventh largest country in the world. it covers an area of nearly 32,87,782 miles. India’s coastline is over sixty-one hundred kilometers long. the mainland comprises four well-defined regions: the great mountainous zone of THE North and the Northeast; the plains of Ganga and Indus; the desert region; and the Southern peninsula. The important rivers are the Himalayan rivers, the Decan rivers, the coastal rivers, and the inland rivers. There is a tremendous diversity in the country’s climate and physical conditions. India has a great variety of fauna and flora.
The total population of India as on March 1978 is 63.83 crores. Nearly 83% of the population follow Hindu religion. The rest of the population follow other religions, such as Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Tiny segment of our population is Jewish. Actually, only a small part of the huge population of India lives in our cities. What most city dwellers may not be aware is that nearly 70% of our population lives in rural areas.
We should bear in mind the topography of India and the distribution of its population while talking about the cultural habits and manners of Indians.
[Source: The Path Divine, Sri Sathya Sai Balvikas, Dharmakshetra, Mumbai]