INDIAN CULTURE

CULTURE IS THE ART OF LIVING

It refers to the intellectual development evolved out of the physical and mental training acquired in the course of the ages in a country. The culture of India can be best expressed as comprising the following Humanity - The mildness of the Indians has continued till date, despite the aggressiveness of the Muslim conquerors and the reforming zeal of the British, the Portuguese and the Dutch. The Indians are noted for their humanness and calm nature without any harshness in their principles and ideals. Tolerance - Gandhiji¶s satyagraha principle or Ahimsa - freedom without taking a drop of blood, worked wonders and gave credit to India in the international arena. Swami Vivekananda in his famous Chicago Speech on the 11th of September, 1893 spoke of this. Unity - India is a conglomeration of men and women of various castes and creed. It is a fusion of old traditional values and the modern principles, thus satisfying all the three generations in the present India. The Elite businessman and the common vendor on the road share the same news and worship the same deity . Secularism - India is a secular coun country as stated in its Constitution. There is freedom of worship throughout the length and breadth of India without any breeches or violations of any other¶s religious beliefs. The Hindus, The Muslims, The Christians, and The Sikhs in times of calamity and during festivities come openly together to share their thoughts despite their religious affinities. The catholicity of the Indian culture can be best understood by the fact that hundreds of Hindus visit the Velankanni shrine or the Nagore Dargah in Tamilnadu. Closely knit Social system - The Indian Social System is mostly based on the Joint family System, but for some of the recently cropped nuclear families. The families are closely knit with Grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandsons sharing the same spirit, tradition and property.
Cultural Heritage

India¶s one billion people have descended from a variety of races. The oldest ones are the Negroid aboriginals called the Adivasis or First settlers. Then there are the

Dravidians, The Aryans, the Mongols, The Semites and innumerable inter-mixtures of one with the other. The great Epic, The Mahabharata and the sacred text, the Bhagavad-Gita teaches the Indians that survival can only be in terms of quality of life. It provides a framework of values to make the Indian culture well- groomed. Swami Vivekananda (1863- 1902) laid stress on physical development as a prerequisite for spiritual development, which in turn leads to the development of the culture of the country. For the past 1000 years various foreign invasions like that of the Huns, the Kushanas, The Arabs, The Muslims, TheDutch, The French and the British took place. So the Indians were exposed to cultures that were totally alien to them. Several attempts were made by the Indian rulers like the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, the Palas, the Rashtrakutas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagar Emperors to give the Indians an administration, which was in consonance with the cultural heritage of the country. Later, religions became an important part in the culture and places of worship became community centers. The innovations in religious thinking brought two popular beliefs in India, namely Buddhism by the Buddha and Jainism by the Saint Mahavir. Then there was a socio-religious shift or orientation in the Indian culture. Later in the century Westernization of Indian culture began , but it was stemmed by the efforts of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswathi, Swami Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, Maharisi, Aurobindo, etc. Then there took place a Renaissance, that emphasized the need to recognize the country¶s own culture while ushering in an age of modernity. If India¶s culture tended to become tolerant, accommodating, open-minded, deeply but not ostensibly spiritual and concerned with the common human welfare, then it is due to the great and relentless efforts of our great ancestors and leaders. Thanks to them our country has achieved a common culture, despite a staggering pluralistic society.

CULTURAL SYMBOLS
Meditation

The Indian Rishis attributed great importance to culture and stressed on the need for the development of the inner faculties of a human being. They discovered various methods of feeding, resting and revitalizing the body. After countless years of experience and experiments they developed special systems of exercises for increasing the strength, purity and power of all the faculties of man.

The Rishis claimed that God could be attained through meditation because then the mind eventually surrenders to a thought, which is subjected to long periods of concentration without any interruptions. In meditation, the performer attains a state of communion with his deity. The rishis also preach that for sublimation and evolution, every person must meditate on God at least three times a day. They associate these times with the three times of the Sun. When one gets up from sleep, he must pay homage to his deity or the rising Sun to prepare for the day¶s chores. He must respect the mid-day Meditating Yogi Sun when he prepares to eat meals for his sustenance and the setting Sun to express his gratitude to his Creator for the successful completion of his day¶s work. They also proclaim that the most auspicious time for meditation is 3 am every day, because during this time, Mother Nature is the most serene. It is called Brahma Muhurta.

In order to attain spiritual progress, one must try to dissociate from worldly pleasures and attachments. Hence they advocated that meditation is supposed to be performed at a predetermined place, time and location for accelerated concentration. To make this easier they constructed temples, which are highly energized holy places. In India, saints and sages have been meditating from time immemorial and they can be still found in many holy cities and riverbanks. Most of them give up their food and clothes to attain moksha or everlasting life. Saint Vivekananda is said to have meditated in the Rock Temple in Kanyakumari, the Southern tip of India for peace. Nowadays even common Indians have started to make a beeline to Ashrams which propose to teach them meditation and concentration to attain peace in life.
Yogis or Rishis

In the Bhagavad Gita, Shree Krishna teaches Arjun that a ³YOGI´ is one who is joined to God. The path that leads to ideals is that of a yogi who consciously and deliberately progresses towards divinity, which is the purpose of creation. With yogic advance his mind gets purified and he later becomes a Siddha Saint. An ascetic is one who undergoes voluntary sacrifices to obtain celestial powers, like going without food or clothes for days, standing on ones head for hours together, sleeping on a bed of nails, piercing ones body with sharp objects, etc. All those who practice meditation, concentration and purification of their mind and body senses are real Yogis. There can be no higher state than this because they are nearer

Fire worship is done in India. But the Tantriks prefer to perform their Yagna at midnight. bountiful rain. In nature the flame is considered to be the source of infinite energy of positive currents. It is lighted in every Hindu household and temple in India. In worldly terms they have long hairs. Every function. Some modern thoughts regard the Fire Worship as a primitive practice of campfire. victory. wheat. worship or Puja starts with the worship of the fire in some form or the other. If even number of lamps is kept side by side. formaldehyde. They prescribe the morning or evening as the ideal time for performing this worship. nearest to a cremation ground! Deepam or Lamp The Rishis of India worship FLAME or JYOTI or DEEPAM. Most of the Indian women perform a small worship of the deity in their house with a special ³ARTI´ of a small deepam or lamp and incense sticks.to God by way of worshipping him. propylene oxide. Twigs and dried leaves of some special trees. as being the purest of the pure because it consumes all impurities but yet remains pure by itself. rice. The cotton tape keeps sucking the ghee to yield a cool bright light. good crop. The Sacrificial Fire Almost most of the Indian religions worship fire as a benevolent element. ceremony. The burning of these items in the fire along with the addition of pure ghee and the reciting of Mantras produces beneficial gases according to the Rishis. for prosperity. coconut. etc. a flame. But scientists have established that performing a small domestic ³havan´ or fire worship with ghee and other specified ingredients produces purifying gases like ethylene oxide. The importance of fire worship is mentioned in all the Vedas and religious books. Rishis perform Havan in the ashrams to purify it and give it an atmosphere of good health and prosperity. . they cancel each other¶s radiation and become harmful. Guggal and Camphor are supposed to be good germ-killers. filled with ghee or butter with a twisted cotton tape immersed in it. and a flourishing beard and wear saffron or white or black robes. thanksgiving. This explains the use of odd number of lamps for worship. health. guggal. butapropiolactone and acetylene which boost up the spirit of the performer and the surroundings. camphor. raisins. From time immemorial the sacrificial fire has been an important item of our culture. vermilion and turmeric are used for the fire worship. til seeds. A lamp is an earthen saucer like container.

Lord Shiva patronizes the Vilva tree as the only tree. Amla. Mango. Sandal. and Babool are the trees that are worshipped in India. The juice of the leaves is a relief to the Diabetics. instead it is grown in temples and inns where people come to worship. The chemical found in this secretion is also found in the Pipals¶ juice according to scientists and hence it is called the Bodhi Vriksha. because Shree Krishna used to sit and play under this tree. fuel. Neem. The Hindus also worship the Kadam tree. The Banyan tree is of specialty because it sends sap from above to the earth. In the Rigveda and the Atharveda some trees are deified. Married Hindu ladies worship the Banyan tree for a long and happy married life. food. It is said that Gods and the souls of pious ancestors rest on the branches of the Pipal tree and so it is not a domestic tree. God. Another tree is the Asoka tree which is known to relieve the worries of the persons sitting under its shade. leaves that sprout together like a trident. Goolar. as ³Vriksha Devta´ which are considered to be holy and the people ought to worship them. The flame is also considered a good germ killer. Banyan. Rishi Chyavan patronized the Amla tree for rejuvenating properties. This resembles the functioning of the world. The arti flame is moved around the idol for the devotees to have a good look of the deity. which has three. Vilva. The fruit called bel was a favorite of Lord Shiva. The Pineal gland¶s secretions of humans make their brains alert and alive.Great emphasis is also placed on performing ³ARTI´ in India during worship of any deity. Tulsi worship . Tree worship Trees are considered to be friends of man as they provide him shelter. Sita is said to have been seated under an Asoka tree in Lanka during her captivity. then the devotees put out their palms to receive the arti aura. The Pipal. as it also needs sap or energy for its survival from above. and oxygen for good living. and the pulp of the fruit is supposed to stop diarrhea. when their body¶s energy rises to the level of the flame according to researchers.

sanctified as a place of pilgrimage and the sepoys of Lord Death dare not enter that place. The leaves¶ paste cure all skin diseases and the decoction of the leaves cures common cold. Before eating a paan.churning by the Gods. leaves from some select trees are used as essential accessories. The leaves have mercury traces and are hence nowadays used in cancer curing Ayurvedic medicines. betel leaf has become a symbolic item denoting freshness and prosperity. the stalk has to be cut. In India. The use of betel leaf is considered as a noble trait and on all auspicious celebrations.branched erect bushy plant of about 4 feet height. The oil of the leaves is capable of destroying bacteria and insects. The flowers are purple in small clusters and the seeds are yellow are red. The black variety is said to be constipative and the white one eliminates cold and is a digestive. Coconut (Nariyel) in rituals . the Tulsi is regarded as the most sacred plant.According to popular Indian belief. It is a much. The Ramayana and the Mahabharatha as well as in Buddhist and Jain literatures. the edges have to be trimmed and the veins have to be scrapped because they may damage the brain. There are whitish and blackish betel leaves. the place becomes. The use of Betel Leaf in India is mentioned in the great epics. The ancient Rishis have ordained that if a ghee lamp or incense stick or flowers are not available for performing puja then Tulsi leaves can be used and this explains the importance of the worship of tulsi in India. The Skanda Purana says that the Betel Leaf was obtained during the ocean. are else they are made into necklaces which the devotees wear with faith. but among them all the Betel Leaf enjoys a place of pride in India. In Hindu weddings. a betel leaf is tucked into the headgear of the bride and the groom. Its leaves are aromatic and they have minute glands. Betel Leaf (Paan) During worship or rituals. a killer of germs and bacteria and an eliminator of cold. Thick branches of Tulsi are dried and cut into beads to make rosary beads. The juice of the leaves cures bronchitis and stomach upsets. Wherever Tulsi is planted. Paan has rich herbal properties. According to scientists the place containing tulsi plant becomes pollution free. It is invigorating and energizing.

for success and prosperity on all occasions. All religious functions and rituals start with the worship of the coconut since it is regarded as the symbolic GANESH. It is also called Shreephal because it denotes prosperity. eyebrow creams and ointments for burns. Lord Vishnu holds a lotus in one of his hands and Goddess Lakshmi also holds a Lotus flower. Ancient Indian doctors used to burn its outer shell to prepare tooth powder. In the Yogasastra. In India. It is mentioned in all the Hindu scriptures because it is very sacred to the Gods. AUM . phosphorous and carbohydrates in good measures and so it is good for Diabetics. The dome of the Taj Mahal resembles an upside-closed lotus. Its hard kernel inspires one to do hard work for attaining success. resting on its petals. Hence Indians consider it a good omen to receive or give coconut fruits as gifts. Lotus Flower Lotus is a very important symbol of Indian cultural heritage. The sick and the elderly find its water nourishing and ladies apply its oil for luxurious hair. the deity who helps in the successful completion of any work undertaken. Sage Vishwamitra is said to be the creator of coconut. So the sages accepted lotus as a unique symbol of unfolding the spiritual qualities of man with the advent of light. All the Vedas sing in praise of the Lotus. the six Chakras are depicted with the Lotus as the base.In India. People get strength and improved eyesight by eating the kernel. the beginning is done with the breaking of a sanctified coconut. It has glucose. According to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. all the souls originate from the Lotus. Every inch of the coconut plant is very beneficial to humans. the Muslim rulers used the Lotus in their architecture. an influence of Hindu architecture since the Muslims have no special significance for the Lotus. be it good or bad. The Lotus is an appropriate symbol of detachment from the surroundings. The Indian Poets have used the Lotus as a simile in praise of the feet of the Gods and Goddesses. Germs can¶t penetrate its hard kernel so it remains intact for months together. The lotus blooms with the morning light and closes its petals when the sun goes down. God Brahma and Buddha are depicted as seated on a Lotus flower.

lime. Tilak or Dot or Bindi The starting point of all shapes and forms is a point. saffron. Ancient Indian had an indomitable urge to communicate his thoughts and so symbols were developed. Rishis declared that the junction of the nose-root and the meeting point of the eyebrows is the most sensitive part of the body. turmeric. Similar group of men and women adopted different types of Tilak or linear symbols.chakra. Later they discovered that sound O was guttural and sound AM touched palate and so told that AUM encompassed man¶s total existence. those of creations. ears and the nose because these applications maintain a fine pull on the veins and nerves underneath the forehead. A deep study of human anatomy reveals that the forehead is the best place for applying Tilak. which were further. eyes. This invisible power flows through the human body and controls its actions when uttered properly with reverence and concentration. A dot or point is the abode of Shiva and Shakthi. to provide warmth to the pineal and pituitary glands located near the Thalamus. which must be Circular Bindi worn by Indian women kept. Swastik . The forebrain controls the decision making part of the brain. preservations and destruction. which has no dimensions. or Wheel of wisdom.AUM does not maintain by food alone. musk. but man¶s body battery. agar. warm and protected. he puts into operation any of these three virtues of AUM. The vibratory cosmic energy. nose-root and forearm¶s skin to monitor proper flow of blood. inhaling air generates SH-Sh sound while exhaling is associated with HM-HM and enunciated that SOHAM is the keynote of life. The bindi is declared to be very helpful for the good health of the brain. Every time a person utters any letter or word. Naamam The most popular forms used or a dot. Geometry describes the point as one. so it is the finale of the highest attainment. or a ³U´ shape or a trident shape or 3 horizontal lines with a dot at the center called Tripund on the forehead and forearms. A dot or point is the seed of language expressed by sound. is located here and so is a vulnerable spot.According to the Hindu Yogis in India. In acupressure methods it is considered to be the most sensitive part of the body responsible for alertness and hence the use of Bindi for the forehead is justified. but it still exists. The Agya. The wearers are advised by the rishis to use a mixture of vermillion. segregated fro man and woman to wear on their body to denote their sect and ideology. The Aum sound is vibrating throughout the cosmos and it has three manifestations. sandal and ash for men and sindur or vermillion on their skullcenter for the women.

The root of SWASTIK is SU+US. Shiva and the horizontal line.round prosperity in India. moving or stationary for positive vibrations and benevolent results. his thoughts are concentrated and good results are got and one such omnipotent symbol is the Swastik. threaded by gold. It is roundish with a cellular demarcation and has a central bore. the results become negative. SU means benefic and US means existence. but in an inverse direction. The Aryans adopted the Swastik as a symbol for the good of humanity. Each seed may have 1 to 21 cells and the seeds with one cell are of great sanctity value. A real rudraksha seed shall sink in water and so fake ones can be differentiated easily. accidents and brings him good . They are called Rudraksha Mala and a visit to any holy place in India. It should be worn on the neck. progress and success is advised to invoke the Swastika Yantra. Indian Siddhants say that the center of the Swastik represents the uterus. so whosoever desires to have glory. prosperity. The most common variety is the seeds with 5 cellular divisions. Rudraksha seeds are not supposed to be rubbed often because then they lose their charm properties. silver or woolen threads. which is widely used in India. It has a beneficial property of attracting healthy vibrations and so saints and rishis wear them as necklaces. Its aromatic property helps a devotee to get into deep meditation easily. Certain shapes represent deities and when a devotee invokes the deity through the symbol. which increases the body¶s immunity. the vertical line. can take you to shops that sell these bead-necklaces in all colors and prices. to see saints and rishis wearing small ball-like seeds in a string around their neck. the origin point of the Universe. Rudraksha is the seed of a fruit of a rare species of a tree found in Karnataka and in the Konkan area. The Lord Shiva is also found to wear one such thing in his neck. The rudraksha thread protects the wearer from lightings. so that it remains in gentle touch with the body. Then the Hindus added some more arms to the Swastik to denote happiness in married life and worldly successes.Mostly the business community considers the Swastik symbol as the symbol of all. Their cross forms the origin and evolution of the whole world. BOVIS is a measure of the energy levels that surround men or materials and the Swastik is supposed to have a formidable energy of one million bovis. the female organ. Rudraksha Mala It is a common sight in India. The sides of the Swastik arms must remain on the right side.

The 3*3 also represents the Navagraha or the nine planets and also the nine outlets of the human body. the belt keeps their lumbar region vertebras in position and gives proper alignment. The sacred thread consists of hand -spun yarn. According to their belief. But fungus developed on the pots and reduced their efficiency and so they gold-enameled the pots with gold. He is supposed to wear it as a cross-belt on his body. on most of the ceremonial occasions. imperious living and vicious living. the rishis of India placed copper pots atop temple pinnacles to escape the calamity of lightning. the throat Lord shiva. a pot filled with clean water. the Zoroastrians wear such a sacred thread around their lumbar region. for good results. Three equal lengths of the yarn are twisted to form one length. with fresh mango or betel leaves placed at the mouth and a coconut placed on top is kept near the . They are considered to be next to God. so they developed a container. In India. The three twisted yarns represent the Trinity of God. pious living. After a sacred thread ceremony the person is given a sacredness status. People with positive currents of energy should wear it on their right hand and those with negative energy current on their left hands. In India. The threads are bright white and so they also add to the aura and moral strength. Kalash (Sacred Pot) In ancient times. or the three virtues of life namely.a Kalash and they were happy that they could enshrine God Varun in the Kalash and thus the worship of Varun started with the worshipping of the Kalash. In India. a tuft of hair in the back of the head. Lord Brahma adores the base and at the belly all Goddesses are established and thus in a small pot they established the presence of all gods and goddesses. The mouth of the Kalash represents Vishnu. a rosary in the hand. a prominent bindi on the forehead and a sacred thread along the torso are considered to be some of the important symbols of holiness among the Hindus. Sacred Thread The Brahmanas and some sects of artisans wear the Sacred Thread as a symbol of their holiness when compared to the common man.luck according to Indian saints and rishis. Kalash According to Indian mythology. The Rishis also ordained that every ceremony should start with the worship of the Kalash. The Rishis wanted water all year round to quench their thirst.

For worship. regular rhythmic ringing of heavy and light weight bells has been made compulsory during the time of worship in most of the temples. symbolized the starting of the war. The metallic sounds were also found to attack bacteria and germs through scientific research.churning by the Gods. bells of different dimensions. blowing of conch. Jhang. Research has proved that that the sound of a standard bell can cure physical as well as mental diseases. were situated in forests away from the crowded townships. To create very effective sound. purified and it is taken to be the most economical way of purifying the environment. etc are very common in India. There the insiders were constantly under beastly attacks and so bells were rung on the sighting of deadly animals to frighten them off. Ringing of bells Centuries ago in India. All naturally occurring conch shells yield cosmic sounds. it produced the most resounding echo. the beating of metallic-alloy plates. The spiral formation inside the conch -shell is symbolic of infinite space.Chief had his own precious Shankh or conch shell. The blowing of the conch shell heralds important events and auspicious celebrations and calls all the faithful for the worship of the deity. It is also decorated with Swastik symbol and other ornamentations. every morning the blowing of the shankh. which can spread in all directions. so as to invoke the deity¶s blessings. Every great King and Army.ft. which can be heard by holding the shell close to one¶s ears. gets 27 cubic feet of air in an area of 1220 sq. Loud sounds of the bell or the blowing of the conch. a bell was found to be the best device since when it is made of 8 different metals. and another with a left-side opening adores the hand of Goddess Lakshmi. the Gurukul system of educationresidential Institutions for overall development of students. God Vishnu accepted an attractive conch shell with its mouth on the right side. .entrance. Conch shells (Shankh) The Conch Shell or Shankh was obtained as a gift from the ocean . In India. Majira. On the battlefield of Kurushetra in the Mahabharatha. a type of shell.

winds. each with its own rules and regulations and code of conduct. mineral resources. forts. ocean currents. natural vegetation. water resources. climate. townships. SOCIAL CULTURE CASTE SYSTEM In India. the details about the different dimensions of buildings. houses. a particular timing to start the construction is some of the things to consider giving good benefits for the occupier of the construction to be erected. At the top rung of the caste ladder in India comes the Brahmins who have maintained . a combination of colors. Vaastu Shastra.East side is dedicated to fire. rainfall. population. The South. Northeast is the air zone. isobars. so the drawing room can be located in this direction. The main entrance or water resources of a house can also be located in the North. North and the East are the most auspicious.Indian astrology (For more imformation click on the link) In India. rectangle or trapezium can be selected but not a triangular one as this may block the energy waves. Architecture is not just raising buildings to limit space according to Indian Rishis. The principles of VastuShastra are based on physical geography. etc. Vastu Shastra is basically the utilization of living space so that it harmonizes the person with the elements by working in harmony with the earth¶s magnetic currents. In India. as per Vaastu Shastra. It is believed to have been adopted by the Brahmins to express their superiority and to maintain it. According to Indian Rishis. constructions are made in harmony with the laws of Creation. temples. the following of the Vaastu Shastra principles brings goodfortune or at the least averts any bad-luck for the occupants.Vastu shastra . It is a form of science where. Plot of square. so kitchen can be in the Southeast or Northwest but not in the Southwest as this may bring sickness to the members. A particular proportion of materials. Gradually the caste system became formalized into four major groups. the caste system developed and is prevalent since ancient times and it remains as a great thorn and mystery in the flesh of Mother India. Then the Aryan races swept into India from the North and they wanted them to be superior to the insiders and so they maintained the prevalent caste systems.East Zone. etc is a great emerging science in the field of architecture.

They have come out of their houses armed with pens instead of spatulas so that they can get a decent position in the Indian society. which are mainly controlled by the type of work the person undertakes. But still caste systems pose a great threat for the upliftment of our country due to frequent upheavals regarding reservations. An Indian woman is best depicted wearing flowers on her hair. but for the uneducated masses of India. the Vaisyas from the thighs and the Sudras from his feet.He worked a lot for their upliftment and betterment. etc don't profess caste divisions. The other religions. the Government of India has come out with special packages like Public sector jobs. But now thanks to westernization and wide approval of education their number is dwindling by the thousands. etc. by their parents and they take it naturally to deliver babies in the coming year. The Indian girls mostly prefer arranged marriages. They are classified as the Scheduled Castes and they performed menial jobs but now thanks to reservations. giving them education and then giving a hefty dowry seemed impossible. Nowadays due to better education and Westernization the caste system has weakened and is fragile. so that the culture of the country is not lost due to the dispersion of its manpower. Then come the Kshatriyas or the Soldiers and administrators.themselves as priests and arbiters regarding religious and financial problems. In earlier times mostly boys were preferred to girls. Each caste has further inner divisions. Parliamentary seats and college seats for them. they have showed up in almost all High-level Departments. the Kshatriyas from the arms. Christianity. The Brahmins from his mouth. In an effort to improve the lot of the lower caste people. According to the ancient Rishis these four castes have come from the body of Lord Brahma. Mostly Hinduism is based upon this caste system. They are followed by the Vaisyas who are the artists and commercial class members and lastly comes the Sudras who represent the peasants and the farming class. But now they have come to terms with these practices. Behind all these comes the last sect of people framed as untouchables or "Harijans" or "Children of God" as called by Gandhiji. THE INDIAN WOMAN India has almost an equal number of men and women and almost half of the women belong to the uneducated category. But overall it helps in the grouping of people into smaller units with common interests and goals. Indian woman are noted for their . Most of the rural women do the jobs of both a householder and a wage-earning laborer to make both ends meet. as raising girls. with colorful bangles on her wrists and sporting a lengthy sari neatly tucked in. which crept into India like Islam.

She is expected to fall in line with the patrilineal pattern of society and the nuclear family structures. One of the significant features of the 20th century is the rising of women's movements.T. Medha Patker in social movements. P. The voting and legal rights of Indian woman has been relaxed and enhanced.LINGUAL COUNTRY In India. to name a few.pious nature and they are mostly occupied by religious pujas of all sorts . Women of today are making great inroads as getting around 30% in Parliamentary seats and some allocations in the Armed forces. India gives its woman the image of "Mother" or "Devi" liable to great reverence and worship. Some of the important temples in the country are dedicated to woman Goddesses. MULTI. Some percentage of woman have risen to the top rung of the ladder in their respective fields like Indira Gandhi in Politics. Women as Gods are part of the Indian tradition.India has more women in important positions than any other country in the world. "Durga" one of the powerful deities in India. fasts and prayers. The Urban Middle Class woman has become more or less comfortable with a satisfactory pay packet and work-reducing kitchen gadgets for her.Usha and Malleswari in Sports. though eighteen languages have been adopted by the Constitution. . English is used widely as the associate official language. is a woman. Different movements have resulted in various women's issues being mainstreamed in the Indian society. And there are around 1500 dialects local to the various States and Union Territories of India. Yet she remains under pressure.

which reveal their Indian ness. Gujarati. Telugu and Urdu. Marathi. Hindi. Tamil. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in India. the Yamuna. . for which a visit once in their lifetime is of great interest. Nepali. The Ramayana. TheCauvery. The 18 main languages are: Assamese. The Rishis and Sadhus who roam the length and breadth of the country are considered to be the most pious in Hinduism. Punjabi. Manipuri. the Upanishads and The Bhagavad-Gita are the important books of this religion and the people of this faith worship in temples. discourses. the Brahmaputra. the Supreme Being. Buddhism and Jainism had their roots in India and Zoroastrianism and Christianity though they came from different parts of the world are followed by a sizable number of the population. The Mahabharata. For most of the Indians. etc. IndoAryan and Dravidian. some threads. Konkani. pilgrimages. Kannada. Malayalam. rituals. It is the main language in Bihar. Sikhism. Most of the Indians believes in God and the efficacy of prayers.40 % of the total population. The Saryu. Hinduism is the major religion followed by about 80% of the population. These religions have some common rituals and practices and all of them stress on the importance of God. The Indo Aryan languages belong to the invaders of India and the Dravidian languages to the native South Indians. Kashmiri. which hold them despite their distinctive flavor and diverse associations. SECULAR INDIA India is a secular country with total freedom of worship according to one's beliefs and faith. fasts. The cities considered to be holy are Varanasi. Sanskrit. Indians spend more time in the pursuit of religion. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya. Sindhi. Almost all the recognized languages have their own script. English is the second language and the main mode of education both for arts and science. It is the official language of the Indian Government. Oriya. Hindi is the most important language and it is spoken by about 20% . The rivers include the Ganges. They have certain holy rivers and towns. Their common Gods include Shiva. etc. possibly brought down by the Aryans. Vishnu and Brahma. like prayers.The main languages belong to two categories namely. Madhya Pradesh. Bengali. than any other people in the world. Parvathi. Indian languages The various literatures of India have some common characteristics.

grandmother. The Zoroastrians are mainly concentrated in Mumbai city and to some extent in the state of Gujarat.Mathura. principles. Dwarka. doing . JOINT FAMILY SYSTEM With Westernization and technological improvements. Islam is the biggest minority religion in India and it is followed by around 10% of the population. one of the oldest religions of the world came to India from Persia. The Jains are known for their ahimsa. Though this fever has caught up in India to some extent. the world has been introduced with the concept of nuclear families where a newly. which form the main part of India. Buddhism propagates the eight-fold path as the way to salvation. still follow the joint family norms. Puri and Rameswaram to name a few. They are noted for disposing of their dead brethen to birds as food. Cochin in Kerala is noted for its famous Jewish settlements. Jainism is a contemporary of Buddhism and Mahavir founded it. Christianity came to India around 50 A. India has around 4 million of Jains mainly concentrated in the west and south-west of India. India has some of the biggest and beautiful mosques of the world. etc all live under the same shade sharing the same food and earnings. The Mahayana and the Hinayana are the two sects. Such a gathering of almost three generations is a common sight in many of India's villages. the rural parts. Thomas in Kerala. sons-in -law.wed couple start their life alone. Badrinath. Goa and the tiny states of Mizoram and Nagaland where the majority of the people are Christians. with the arrival of St. Gautama Buddha founded it in the state of Bihar where he attained enlightment. daughters. Ujjain. The ancient ruler Asoka propagated this religion throughout India as well to many foreign countries. The men are the sole-bread winners and they are responsible for the financial security aspect of the household. They have to nurture their children with their own knowledge and earnings. Zoroastrianism. Tamilnadu. their children. The Christians number around 20 millions in India. a village in Karnataka is a Jain pilgrimage spot.doing no harm to any life. Their holy book is the Zend Avesta and they worship the Fire as their God. Their numbers are gradually reducing in India due to compulsory inter-religious marriages. daughters-in law. Kanchipuram. The women do all the house chores without any hassles as they share their work of cooking. sons. It was founded by Prophet Mohammed in Saudi Arabia and with the Arab invasion. grandfather. namely the states of Maharastra and Gujarat. In such an Indian family the father. Buddhism is followed by about 7 million of the population of India. The two main sects of Jainism are the Svetambaras and the Digambaras. The Christians are mainly concentrated in Kerala. mother. Islam penetrated to India. The Mughal Emperors nurtured it. cleaning.D. Shravanabelagola.

single-handedly.kid comes home from school to find an empty house with none to move around with and he would be fast asleep when his parents return back from work. Education in India is very disciplined with physical education also getting equal importance. The Indian system of education is one of the best in the world. Financial stability is brought about in the family. Aryabhatta and Bhaskara. But the modern day nuclear. 000 dedicated for Primary Education alone. . It was a residential type of education with total submission to the Guru or teacher. Gandhi and many Indians had to get educated from outside India. The State of Kerala boasts of cent percent literacy rate while some like Bihar are way back with a literacy rate of around 40% only. a decade earlier. but in some states like Arunachal Pradesh in North -West India. Mostly the Patriarchal system is followed throughout India. Nehru. Indian educational system rose up like a Phoenix. Later with foreign invasions. But in general men have a high literacy rate. washing. the matriarchal system is followed where the house is ruled by the women members of the family and the men while their time by playing and gossiping! Kerala also follows this system to some extent.the dishes. The children have a wonderful time as they have lots of children to play with and elders to guide them both spiritually and physically.000 schools in the country with around 600. the Gurukul system of education was followed where an overall knowledge was imparted to the student who is to be away from home for most of his educative years. who has to do all the jobs. etc. The joint family system transfers its knowledge about the culture and traditions of the country to the new generations. as the educational system was in shambles. EDUCATION In ancient India. This is in sharp contrast to the nuclear woman. Any imbalance between spouses is easily measured out since there are many elders to guide and hence India has a low rate of divorcees in the world. despite its high illiteracy rate. Gurukul system of Education There are around 1000. yet also attend to outside work to make both ends meet. So the younger generation learns to live a disciplined life. With the withdrawal of the foreign forces and the introduction of English into India by Lord Maculay. Indians are noted for their scientific and mathematical skills even from ancient times. as most of the village women are yet to come out of their veils of ignorance. alien culture swept India and many were forced to go out of the country to get a decent education. The literacy rate is around 60 %. Ramanujam etc were great Indians who brought credit to the Indian system of education. which is far greater when compared to the rate. in that its female members control the decision making process in a family.

They later develop strong bonds of companionship. arranged marriages are an accepted norm and love marriages are a rarity.one woman norm came to existence with the efforts of some great reformers in India. In case of any conflicts between them they split and live with their parents unlike other western countries where the couple can opt for divorce and then another marriage. In India. The ancient Maharajahs or kings had special places wherein they kept beautiful women from all over the country to satisfy their sexual needs. PERSONAL CULTURE CULTURE IS THE ART OF LIVING The Kamasutra. To many newly married Indian couples. The girl has to sleep with the women-folks of the household and the guy with the men of the house. the concept of privacy is totally alien. and this trend is likely to dominate the Indian culture in the near future. Armed with such degrees they are a prey to many foreign firms. their likes and dislikes. . They rarely get a room all for themselves. This brain drain is now stemmed to some extent by competent pays and perks in India. was produced in India and it is widely read throughout the world. science and technology studies have caught the fancy of the Indians who earlier took to law and finance. probably in the verandah or the open portico. Studying at home at the grace of the World Wide Web or Net is now slowing catching up in India. But now love marriages are becoming common due to westernization and modern education wherein the men and women mingle freely without any inhibitions. Ancient artists depicted common sexual scenes of India in their art. But gradually the one man. Once married. which goes on till death. a widow or a widower re-marrying is overlooked with great suspicion. In arranged marriages the partners acquaint themselves physically first and once the initial lust has lost its steam they discover each other's personalities. In India.In the last decade. the great treatise on the art of sex. be it sculptures or paintings or carvings. the couple ought to get along with each other well.

One is likely to witness a plethora of colors. Sexual scenes from Khajuraho sculptures In India. Men from all classes and regions of India wear shirts and trousers. Kodava. texture Rajasthani woman and color of the cloth may vary but the sari has an ageless charm. the men seem to be more comfortable in western clothing. With globalization. Men of Northern India wear pyjama-like trousers. brightly mirrored cholis. etc. Bengali. age. The sari can be best called the National dress of the Indian woman. Gay and lesbian activities are also greatly discouraged as marriages are considered to be divine in India. region and religion of a woman in India. It is simply a short length of material worn around the thighs like a Sarong. The traditional Lungi originated in the South and men from all parts of India wear it. Tamilian. A Dhoti is a longer Lungi but with an additional length of material pulled up between the legs. The style. occupation. To a foreigner.Kameez catch anybody's fancy. A sari is a rectangular piece of cloth of about 5 to 6 yards in length without any stitches but for the borders. texture and styles in garments worn by the Indians.At the grace of some elderly figure in the house the couple get some time to be alone and they don't get sufficient time for a satisfying bout of intercourse. dresses are also getting westernized. CLOTHING IN INDIA Indian dressing styles are marked by many variations. the Sari is reigning among both urban and rural females for all rituals and ceremonies. public display of affection between opposite sexes is strictly prohibited. the powerful attraction. Though the majority of the Indian women wear traditional costumes. The sari is worn in at least 10 or 15 styles like Gujarathi style. Mangalorean. This graceful attire can be worn in different ways and it denotes the in Ghagra Choli status. The silk saris.according to Section 377 of the National Legislation. is the colorful attire of the people in India . colorful Lehangas and the traditional Salwar. both regional and religious. Homosexual relations for men are also illegal in India . As the woman goes from one pregnancy to another she rarely think that sex is pleasurable and enjoyable. Kannadiga. Malayali. . Being most utilitarian and multi purpose.

thighs and ankles. lentils and the staple food of rice and wheat. A length of cotton -cloth called Dupatta covers the head. a collarless or mandarin collar tunic called a Kurta is worn. which are used as appetizers and digesters. short blouse worn under a sari is called a choli and it evolved during the Indian woman 10th century A.C). the waist and the hips. He selected the sari. Apart from the choli. The Indian cookery skill lies in the perfect blending of the various spices available. The sari is more than 5000 years old and it is found mentioned in the Vedas (3000 B. The skirt is secured at the waist and the back and midriff are bared. The cuisine varies according to the geographical location and the climate of the region. . Another popular attire of the Indian women is the Salwar-Kameez. Over this. The sari has survived well for long and it is worn by around 75% of the female population in India. Salwars are pyjama-like trousers drawn tightly at the waist and ankles with a long and loose tunic over it. Vegetables vary widely across the regions and so are the vegetarian dishes like the Sarson ka saag in Punjab and the Sambhar in Tamilnadu. wearing a sari! The warm and humid clime of India favors the sari as the best Indian female attire. This developed in Kashmir and Punjab and is now worn throughout the length and breadth of India. The tightly fitted. is said to have fought her enemy troops on horseback. the Queen of Jhansi. A churidhar is similar to the salwar but is tight fitting at the hips. Punjabi men in Kurta and Lungi CUISINE OF INDIA The Indian cuisine is as diverse as its culture. called the Kameez. as it drapes the body beautifully and at the same time exhibits the contours of the female anatomy. Besides spices the main ingredients of Indian cooking consists of milk and milk-based products. Rani Lakshmi Bai.D.the bust. the in Sari Rajasthani women wear a form of pleated skirt called Ghagra or Lehanga. the distinguished painter of the 19th century toured the whole of India in search of an ideal female wear and he selected the sari as the best attire for the Goddesses in his paintings.Raja Ravi Verma.

The Rath Yatra. the sacred Ganga. vegetables. rasam. Koftas and Kababs South Indians have rice as the staple food. Dosa. his brother and sister wherein stout ropes by ardent pilgrims pull the chariots. It is a ceremonial procession of huge chariots bearing Lord Jagannath. There are numerous other pilgrim spots belonging to different religions and faith in India. which takes place in the town of Puri in Orissa attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the country.rice pancakes. sandesh. Kormas. The Portuguese. color and grandeur to a dull and drab and insipid routine. Kheer. Our history is interwoven with worship and pilgrimage. and gulab jamuns. vegetables and curd. the holy Cauvery. Biryani and tandoori items. They are mostly milk -based. The lofty Himalayas. cardamom. Indians usually round their meals with paan or betel leaves.rice pancakes and fish-based curries.which are steamed rice cakes. The Indian becomes more vibrant and dynamic after a good pilgrimage.Dosa and Idli Pilgrimage has become a part and parcel of the cultural heritage of India. Koftas. pilgrimage leads to zest. the crystal-like Tunghabhadra have all been cherished pilgrim spots of India from time immemorial. PILGRIMAGE South Indian dishes . The Hindus are traditionally vegetarians while some have now taken to meat items. Besides giving great source of spiritual and moral enrichment. etc. In fact pilgrimage and the related fasts are cathartic in nature. The invaders also brought their techniques and this blended with the Indian cuisine to make it a perfect one. which serve as digestive spices. Kababs. Desserts from the South include the Payasam -a form of Kheer from rice and Mysore Pak.end desserts include rasgullas. It is served with sambhar. South India is also known for its Idli. Andhra is known for its hot and spicy curries. curd. They are a means of purification and they strengthen the spirit within. North Indian meal mainly consists of Chapathis and rotis and parathas accompanied by dals. which go with arecanut. chutneys and pickles. which attract large faithful and devout crowds throughout the year. variety. The Muslims are famous for their Mughlai food. the Persians and the British made important contributions to the Indian culinary scene. vada-made of fermented rice and dal.a thin soup. The tail. Hinduism . . Kerala is famous for its appams.Hinduism and Islam are the two main religions that have contributed to the diverse cuisine culture in India. shahi Tukra and Kulfi are the other common North Indian dessert items.

There are also numerous pilgrim spots which are frequented by the pious Hindu in India like Kasi. A sea of pilgrims takes the ritual bath in the holy waters of the Ganges during this visit.For the Muslims the greatest pilgrim center is Mecca. Haridwar. The Jains also visit other Jain pilgrim centers situated in Gujarat and other places as part of their pilgrimage. Most of them visit this temple at least once during their life. Sikhs -The Sikhs attach great importance with the Golden temple at Amritsar in the State of Punjab. a tiny village in the state of Karnataka. etc. For the Jain pilgrims it is a very sacred and significant occasion.Once in every 12 years the ritual anointing of the statue of the Jain saint Gomateshwara takes place at Shravanbelagola. Rameshwaram. etc and rivers like Cauvery Yamuna. wherein the Mela takes place once in every 12 years at different places. Islam . The Muslims visit and offer Namaz regularly at their respective Durgahs and Masjids. Usually they pray in their respective churches and Cathedrals. the Jama Masjid in Delhi is of great significance. for which a visit once in their lifetime is considered very meritorious. Dwaraka. RITUALS Christian Rituals || Hindu Rituals || Jain Rituals || Sikh Rituals || Zoroastrian Rituals .The Kumbh Mela is also a great pilgrimage. In India. Jainism .For the Christians in India. there are some regional pilgrim centers with which they attach great sanctity and reverence. Some places like the Velankanni church in Tanjore District of Tamilnadu are places with healing powers according to the Christian pilgrims. who gather in thousands to anoint the statue with an offering of milk. honey and butter. Christians . They also undertake pilgrimage to other Gurdwaras located at different places in India.

Only then nikah is performed. If there are. Usually he wears a shervani. On the seventh day following delivery the mother is bathed in warm water. This is applied on Muslim Priest with a new born child the upper jaw of the child. Inside the house. Circumcision In India. kurta . a turban and a transparent veil covers his face. At the bride's house the groom's party is welcomed and they stay in a special place allocated for them till the nikah. a barber is usually called. the first words that a child should hear are the words of God. The midwife is given clothes and money by the relatives. etc and is taken care of. then they are dependant on the local customs and habits of the region. The ritual takes place as follows. There are no specific rituals following the birth of a child. At the house. the custom of circumcision varies from region to region. Then the groom's party leaves for the bride's house accompanied by music bands.MUSLIM RITUALS Birth According to the Muslims. Only after this the child is allowed to feed on the mother's milk. But nowadays a doctor or a surgeon does the circumcision. The child is first given the juice of palm dates chewed by any Muslim priest. Marriage On the day of marriage the groom is dressed in the wedding clothes and is worn flower garlands. Then some antiseptics are applied to prevent any bleeding. Dowry or Mehar is negotiated between the parents according to their status. The doctor with a sharp razor or surgical blade cuts off the foreskin of the penis. Smoke is used to clean the labour room. Hence the Azaan is spoken into the new -born's right ear and the iqamat is spoken into his left ear. Women are not allowed to watch the rite. . First the child is made to take bath and then wear clothes brought by his maternal uncle. The child is then given some drinks like milk. Then he is taken to the mosque to offer namaz. a cloth screen is erected on all sides and the child sits on the lap of his maternal uncle.

A prayer called dua is recited en-route. The procession is called Janasa. stones or bamboo sticks. The talaq is to be given by saying. Only close relatives of the sex of the deceased bathe the body. After lowering the body into the grave. Her husband should pay her the nano . After talaq. the head of the deceased is tilted to face towards the Kaba. The grave is finally covered . There is also a provision by which a woman can also divorce her husband. Death When a Muslim dies. people recite "lilaha va inna illaha raziun" meaning "We have come from God and unto him we shall return". The boy must say that he proposes to marry a particular girl and the girl must accept his proposal in the presence of two witnesses. This is called Kullahi. It includes the money for her clothes. Then the Muslim Cemetery corpse is taken to the burial ground on the shoulders of four people. food and housing.Nikah: This is a brief ceremony confined to two short sentences and two witnesses. The mourners then toss handfuls of sand over the covering. from head to toe. and three times with a gap of one calendar month between each talaq.nafka or the money for her maintenance during that period. The Muslim law forbids loud wailing and display of grief on the death of a person. Iddat is the probation period of three months and thirteen days during which a woman has to be confined to her house and observe purdah from all men. Talak or Divorce Muslim Bride According to Muslim personal law if a man and woman find it impossible to live together for any kind of reason then there is provision for them to separate. First the corpse is purified through a ritual bath called ghusl. The grave is sprinkled with perfumed water. "I hereby give you talaq". There is a congregational prayer before the corpse is buried. Then the body is wrapped in a white cloth called Kafan. A big feast is given for the guests. a woman has to observe iddat before she can remarry. People may take turns in carrying the corpse. The grave is then neatly sealed with wooden boards. A nikahanama or contract is drawn up which is signed by the people concerned followed by celebrations. Incense sticks are lighted in the house.

There are no special rituals concerned with the birth of a child. According to Christian belief. CHRISTIAN RITUALS Birth When a woman is about to deliver a baby . A child is admitted to the church congregation as a member only through Baptism. Usually the first birthday of the child is celebrated elaborately with the parents arranging a special feast for the guests. There she gives offering to the Lord. On this day the date of marriage and other details are discussed between the groom's and the bride's side. by the parents. the priest of the congregation is called for and he prays for a safe delivery. The priest delivers a small sermon and a feast is given for the invitees. At Baptism. The child is given white clothes. A feast is given to them and the priest . It is more or less a family affair and only the close relatives attend the function.and all present recite the Fatiha for the deceased and depart. Baptism is done usually before the first birthday. The girl and the boy are given time to talk and understand each other. Baptism Baptism is an important ritual in the life of a Christian. a child is born tainted with the sin that passed on to him from the great sin of Adam and Eve. the Bible and a ring as a mark of their engagement. Marriage Engagement BAPTISM This is usually held at the brides' residence. Marriage . the child is relieved of this sin and he becomes a child of God and a member of the church. The priest starts the function with a prayer. shoes and cap by his parents and relatives give him gifts. Then the girl and the boy exchange garlands. All of them give gifts to the kid. Then after 40 days of cleansing the mother takes her newborn to the church for thanksgiving. And the child cuts a special birthday cake to be shared between the guests.

Small girls with flower baskets accompany the couple . The Bible is read and the priest gives a small lecture on the life and deeds of the deceased. Funeral . At the church the head priest leads the boy and the girl to the altar. Usually the sons carry the coffin on their shoulders but nowadays special vehicles like a hearsevan are used for the purpose. Then the groom's party is given breakfast. Then the body is bathed and clothed and placed in a special coffin. First the coffin is taken to the church. Perfumes are sprayed over the body. the priest prays for a happy life for the couple and then he blesses them. Incense sticks and candles are lit around the cot.Marriages usually take place in the nearby churches. He welcomes the groom with a garland and a golden chain. Death When a person dies. Texts from the holy Bible are read and he makes a short sermon. On the day of marriage. The bride's party follows suit. At night a reception would be arranged at the boy's place. There after a small prayer it is taken to the crematorium. The marriage celebrations are influenced by local customs and practices and may vary according to the region. Then the arms of the body are folded across the chest. At the Altar. A choir usually accompanies the service with melodious songs blessing the couple. The groom's side then goes to the nearby church accompanied by music bands. Then the groom ties a golden chain in the neck of the bride or slips a ring on the girl's hand. The coffin is placed at an open place for people to pay their last respects. When all the relatives have gathered.to sprinkle flowers over the couple. The funeral service then begins with the guidance of the priest. the groom's party arrives at the bride's residence and the bride's father welcomes them.1-2 sequence. the head priest holds prayers in the room. The relatives kiss the dead as a sign of farewell and the departure song is sung. The guests give gifts for the newly married couple. Then they get to the bride's residence for a sumptuous meal. Flower garlands are laid along with lots of flowers sprinkled inside the coffin. The father of the bride gives her hand to the groom. the body is laid in a cot with a cross nearby. where the bells toll in a 1.

The bangles are removed only during delivery and given to the midwife at the birth of a child. Mostly women are invited for this function and priests are not involved. They also explain in detail the observance of sacrificial and purification rituals. Valaikappu . Prayers are invoked for the well-being of the mother-to -be and the foetus. Arti is performed. BIRTH RITUALS Valaikappu This ceremony is performed during the odd months of pregnancy mostly during the seventh month for the expectant mother in her mother's house. The invitees give gifts for the mother-to -be and they are given a feast. On the 3rd or 5th day. Top HINDU RITUALS Hinduism is the religion of the majority of the population of India. The expectant mother is made to wear a lot of bangles mostly glass Glass bangles used for ones of red and green colors and adorning pregnant woman the sound of these bangles are supposed to reach the womb.At the crematorium a special pit is dug for the purpose beforehand. The mother of the girl presents her silk saris and gold and silver bangles. the relatives visit the crematorium and offer garlands and milk at the spot and disperse after a prayer. The holy books of the religion namely the Vedas and the Upanishads clearly explain the rituals and their mystical contents. The coffin is lowered into the pit and the people put handfuls of sand over the coffin and finally the pit is closed.

This ritual is perofrmed for children of both the sexes. If one of the threads break then the entire thread should be replaced. Annaprasanam This ritual usually takes place on the first birthday of the child. Kaadukutthal (Ear -Piercing) It is a very important event for the Hindus in India.While the girls retain the holes for wearing studs. The threads are dyed yellow. After any birth or death in the family. Upanayanam MARRIAGE . sugar and milk. probably his first solid food after a year of liquid diet. the boys gradually lose them. It signifies the entry into a state of disciplined existence. the piercing of a hole in the ear completes the shape of AUM . A goldsmith is invited to do this and he is given clothes and money. This is usually done during the first or the third year of the child. The baby is made to sit on his maternal uncle's lap during the ritual. maternal uncle and grandparents.Mottai Addithal (Tonsure) This is a ritual connected with the tonsuring or head shaving of children. The baby is given a mixture of rice. It involves three threads entwined together. It need not be taken out of the body daily. The ritual is to be conducted when the child is mentally and emotionally old enough to understand its significance and follow the practice. The child receives new dresses from its parents. based on the shape of the ear. Celebrations or chanting of mantras are not involved. According to Hindu belief. The thread should be lifted and put behind the ears when a person goes for his daily ablutions. Before this ritual the male is made to tonsure his head and wear new clothes. which are symbolic of the three parts of the Gayatri Mantra. This event signifies the entry of the male into Brahmacharya or the state of sexual abstinence as well as the commencement of his life. The hair is consecrated and offered to the respective family deities. This ritual may be conducted at the temples too but usually it is held in the house of the child and guests are given a good lunch. the thread should be changed. UPANAYANAMM This is one of the most Annaprasanam important rituals in a Hindu male's life.

On the evening the groom's party goes to a nearby temple. priests from both the groom's side and that of the bride meet at the house of the groom and exchange the marriage agreement along with banana. The bride's father with a garland welcomes the groom. which the groom ties around the neck of the girl. Nathaswaram coconut. This is called exchange of Thambulam. sweets. There the father of the bride gives her hand to the groom and this is called Kanyadan. clothes. the groom's party arrives at the Mandapam and the whole arrangement of food and the lodging for them are done by the bride's side. The next day is the hey day when an auspicious time is selected for the Muhurtham. Then they come to the mandapam along with Mridangam gifts for the bride. banana. The boy and the girl take bath and wear new clothes gifted from the opposite sides and sit around a haven performed by a priest. The bride is given an oil bath separately in her house and she is confined to her house till marriage. He ties two knots and the groom's sister. On the day before the marriage. like fruits. Thambulam The groom and the bride do not meet. Then the Nichayetartum or the engagement takes place with women taking arti for the groom and the bride. coconut and betel leaves in a plate. This is done to avoid any obtrusive acts. .On an auspicious day. betel leaves. cosmetics. During this ritual the nadeswaram reaches its crescendo called Kettimelam. The thali is a piece of gold in a yellow thread. the third one. some few days before the marriage. and gifts are exchangedbetween the two parties.

the relatives visit the crematorium and pour milk over the place . the son takes the Agni or fire and places it on the heart of the body. The son goes round the body seven times with a pot of water and at last the pot is broken near the feet of the dead. The eyes are closed and the feet are tied together. Grains of rice and til are put into the mouth of the body. After this. But in the temple . There the couple is engaged in small petty games so as to tease each other. a lamp is lit and placed near the dead body. Then the groom's side arranges a reception with a good dinner accompanied by music concerts. Then the body is decorated with flower garlands and is taken to the cremation ground. payasam. rice varieties. Ten days of cleansing or Sutak are observed after delivery. Then the members of the family apply oil on the forehead of the deceased. Women are not allowed to go to the ground. where arrangements will be made for the first night ceremony. Wooden logs are placed over the body and ghee is sprinkled all over. Usually the sons and other male members carry the dead. the bride's party leave her in the groom's house. Then on the 3rd or 5 th day day after cremation. The body is bathed and is covered with new clothes. milk and sweets welcome them. The eldest son is supposed to do the last rites. During this period no rituals are performed. Top JAIN RITUALS Birth Priyodhbhav Sanskar This ritual takes place after the birth of a child. They bid farewell to the deceased at the home itself. The body is placed in the north-south direction with the head towards the north. Death Couple circling the sacred fire When a person dies. The couple is then taken to the groom's house where the members with banana. At the cremation ground. Then a simple lunch is arranged for the members. Then as the priest chants the mantra. papad and sweets are given to the guests by the bride's side. so as to pacify the dead soul.Then an elaborate lunch consisting of Vadai . the son applies ghee at seven important places in the body and also places coins on the forehead.

Lagna Patrika Vachan This is the reading of the Laghana Patrika at the groom's house by the priest.the priest recites mantras and receives offerings on behalf of the new-born.head. Namkaran Sanskar This is the naming ceremony. traditional to the Jains and relatives apply tilak on his fore. The elders of the family bless the groom. clothes and sweets. The groom performs the Vinayakyantra pooja and then the bride's brother applies tilak and presents him gifts like gold chain. The different rituals connected with the marriage are: Laghana Lekhan This is the first of the nine rituals and it consists of fixing the date and time of marriage called Laghana Lekhan and is held at the bride's residence. Sagai This is the engagement and is done at the groom's residence. chanting mantras declares the name and thenthe child is blessed. Marriage The marriage function consists of totally nine different rituals. The priest performs Puja and he determines the time of marriage. It is done on the eleventh. Barati . Then he visits a temple in a ceremonial horse. which are performed on one day. ring. Ghudhchadi Before going to the bride's place. Then the Patrika bearing the time or Muhurta is sent to the groom's house with sweets. thirteenth or twenty-ninth day after the birth of a child. The priest. For Namkaran the name is selected from the 1008 Jinasahasranam for the boys and names of the girls are selected from famous women of the Puranas. the groom is given a headgear. Marriages of Jains are usually simple ceremonies without the flaunting of wealth. Mada Mandap This ceremony is held a day or two before the marriage both at the groom's as well as the bride's place at an auspicious time.

Loud wailing and observing anniversaries are not part of the Jain Tradition. The couple exchange garlands and then the elders bless them. The bride's brother welcomes the groom's party and applies tilak on the groom and gives him gifts. The body is taken from the bier and placed on the platform with logs of wood over it. Kanyavaran This is the presenting of the girl to the groom by the bride's parents. Then after sometime they pour milk over the place. Granthi Bandhan After the havan. The son goes round the pyre three times sprinkling water allover the body. a corner of the pallu of the bride's sari is tied to the shawl of the groom. There a platform of wood is erected. chanting mantras. Chanting the Namokar Mantra . the couple is ritualistically tied. Death The Jains cremate the dead as soon as possible. so that it dissolves easily. Instead they dig a hole in the earth and put the remains and sprinkle salt all over. Ghee. camphor and sandalwood powder are sprinkled all over the body and the eldest son of the deceased does the last rites. The priest pours water on the hands of the groom and the bride. Mantras are recited and the couple circles the havan 4 times. Top . The groom and the bride take the seven vows and the girl sits to the left of the groom. The corpse is then clothed and placed in a bier and covered with a kafan.he lights up the pyre. So for them death is a festival or Mahotsav. The Jains believe that the dead soul would be reborn immediately. The remains are collected in bags and the place is thoroughly cleansed. First the body is rubbed with a wet cloth. The remains are not immersed in rivers as they can pollute the water. Then a feast follows . the bride is sent to the groom's house and alms are distributed to the poor in the Jain temples. Phere This is the actual marriage ceremony. Then the priest begins a havan.This takes place on the bride's house on the arrival of the groom. The groom and the bride are seated in a mandap. A suitable place without any living organisms like grass or insects is selected so as not to harm them. The body is tied to the bier and taken to the crematorium. The father proclaims to the congregation that he has given his girl to the groom.After the ceremony is over.

to the newborn child. Before the wedding. money and gold ornaments for the child according to their financial status . This is not a ritual and it mostly takes place in the hospital itself. intelligent and favorite member of the family gives a drop of honey to the new born child so as togive his characters later in life. which consists of clothes for the child and his family. glass. the maternal grandparents gift him a package called Shushak. They believe that community worship and community service are related to Godliness.meaning a ceremony of Bliss. omnipresence and formlessness of one God called Wahe Guru. and a bowl for the child. Golden Temple. a spoon. Shushak When a child is born into the Sikh fold. Marriage A Sikh marriage is more or less similar to the Hindu marriage. A Sikh wedding is called Anand Karaj .Amritsar Birth There are no particular rituals connected with the birth of a child in the Sikh community. The Sikh symbols are called Panch Piyara and they include the five K's: Kanga or Comb. Here instead of the Vedas the Granth Sahib is read. Every Sikh is supposed to carry these five symbols on his self all the time. a three-day wedding path is held and it is one of the main ceremonies. omniscience. Gurthi A respected. Kaccha or shorts. Invitation cards are sent to relatives and friends along with boxes . The Sikhs believe in the omnipotence. Japji Sahib into the ears of the newborn child.SIKH RITUALS The religion of the Sikhs called Sikhism is not an ethnic religion and anyone can join its fold. Some sections of the Sikhs recite the five verses of the Morning Prayer. Kada or bangle. Kesha or hair and Kirpan or dagger.

the groom wears a long coat called Brocade Achakan and churidhar pyjamas and a pink turban. Death In the Sikh community after the death of a person. The girl throws wheat grains over her shoulders as a mark of paying off her debts to her parental home. Loud lamenting and breast -beating are strictly forbidden among the Sikhs. The groom gives silver rings to the sisters of the bride. They go round the holy book four times. The couple is then given gifts by the people and lunch is served. Then the groom leaves his house with a sword on horse back accompanied by friends and relatives in a procession. The other male members of his family also wear pink turbans. Doli Then the groom and the bride leave for the groom's house. The male members of the girl's side welcome them. the groom's brother's wife. After the singing of the holy verse.like clothes . the couple is made to sit in front of the Granth Sahib. the gathering shower flowers on the couple and they are declared married. singing and dancing. The priest tells the couple about the obligations of marriage and hymns form the Granth Sahib related to marriage areread.his Bhabhi applies Surma or Kohl in his eyes.jewellery and they also host one meal. Before leaving for the girls' house . The groom's party is given gifts from the girl's side. Surma Pawai On the day of marriage. Baraat The Baraat arrives at the bride's residence in a procession marked by music. Milni A poet of the Sikh community sings the Shabad or Holy verse. Lawaan The bridegroom leads the bride around the Granth Sahib with both of then holding both ends of a scarf. At the end of the fourth round. the Kirtan Solah is read. . The two sides exchange garlands.of sweets Nanke Chak The bride's maternal grandparents and uncle spend a reasonable amount for the wedding of the girl . People gather around the body and recite the morning prayers.

It is done between the seventh and the eleventh year of the child. until which the holy texts from the Granth Sahib are read daily in the house. the new mother is normally confined to the house for 40 days. They don't observe Shraddh orAnniversary for their dead.The corpse is bathed and dressed along with the fives K's. Then they collect the bones and the ashes in a bag and immerse it in the Beas River or in the river flowing near their Gurudwara. sugar and Desi ghee is served to the people. The eldest son of the deceased lights the funeral pyre. The Sikhs cremate their dead like the Hindus and they do it before sunset. Top ZOROASTRIAN RITUALS Birth After the birth of a child in a Zoroastrian family. This . The period of mourning for the dead can go up to 10 days. the new mother is given a ceremonial bath with consecrated water being administered by the head priest. Then the child stands in a raised platform and his mother performs the Achoo Michoo ceremony where certain items are rotated over the head of the child seven times. Prasad . But these days a sweet drink made of molasses or sugar is also administered. This is done to cleanse her so that she can interact with other people. the relatives go to the cremation ground. It is consecrated Haoma juice and it is supposed to make the child healthy. people go to the Gurudwara where some texts from the Granth Sahib are read. Navjote The formal admission of a child into the Zoroastrian fold is called Navjote. On the third day after the cremation. take the bones of the dead and wash them in unboiled milk. water. Para Haoma The event of giving the first drink to the newborn is called Para Haoma. Some families observe the Pachori on the fifth day while some observe Dasori on the tenth day of the child. On the fortieth day . A lamp is lit on the day of birth and is kept in the room for about 40 days to ward off any evil elements. After the cremation. First the child takes a special bath called Nahn and then he is given a purifying drink. The priest sings the holy hymns. This is to prevent her and her child from any diseases. is which is cooked with coarsely ground atta.

They recite the Patet . A coconut is taken round the head of the groom three times. When the groom arrives the bride's mother welcomes him by applying Kumkum on his forehead and sprays rice grains over him. which calls for the well being of the child. A few drops of the Haoma juice are administered to the . The relatives and friends then clap approving the marriage. Then the writings of the Yatha Ahuvairyo are read. then it is broken and the water is applied at the feet of the groom. Marriage The marriage involves the groom going to the bride's house along with his relatives and friends.the gifts meant for the bride. The priest gets the consent of the couple and then joins their hands and showers rice grains over them. The couple is made to hold each other's right hand and a piece of cloth is passed round the chairs so as to enclose them. Both the Parsi boys and girls are given this privilege. Finally the curtain is dropped and the couple shower rice grains on each other. Finally the priest recites the Doa Tandorosoti Prayer. Death According to the Zoroastrians. Music bands accompany them. Then certain prescribed texts are read and the Kushti is worn round the waist of the child. The priest heads the assembly and women carry the Varni . two head priests are called. The bride's house is usually decorated with strings of flowers. with a curtain between them. Then a grand feast is given. Both of them face the eastern direction. The ends of the cloth are tied symbolizing the marriage knot.is done to invoke the blessings of the seven Amesha Spentas on the child. purification and cleanliness. if the soul has left the body then it should be disposed off with minimum harm to those living.the prayer for repentance. The bridegroom is made to sit on the hand of the bride. A candle is also placed on both the sides and it burns for the whole ceremony. his parents and the community in particular. During the ceremony the couple shower rice over each other and the priest also throws rice grains over them as a mark of blessing. The Zoroastrians have strict ideals of sanitation. Then the couple is seated facing each other. When death of a person is imminent . The part of the house where the body was kept before the funeral will be washed and cleansed thoroughly. One person with a burning flame is allowed to stand near the couple as a reverence to their God of fire. Then a long prayer is held when the child declares that he will be a true Zoroastrian and follow the rules and regulations. segregation.

instead they leave their dead in the "Towers of Silence" where they would be devoured by vultures. are not polluted. This is to ensure that the five elements created by God. . Nowadays pomegranate juice is also given. They do not bury or cremate the dead.dying person.

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