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Cultural India

Indian Dance The Cultural Heritage of India is a vibrant mosaic of lively and magnificent colors. Indian Culture encompasses a unique blend of food, fashion, festivals, dance and music that spellbounds the four corners of the world in its euphoric nature. Explore here, the diversified but united culture of India that has flourished for many centuries and is India’s way of life.

India is a popular destination and boasts a cultural heritage that is worth exploring. As a tourist you have many choice to explore - from cuisine to dances to music. All diverse in nature encompass to form the culture of India. Very few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India's. Dating back to over 5000 years old civilization, India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration which were absorbed into the Indian way of life. The Indian culture comprises of Indian music, Indian Dance, Indian cuisines, costumes and Indian Festivals.

Indian Dances
Indian dances are popular all over the world for their unique style and lucid expression portrayed by the artiste. Indian dances have the potential to recreate the magic of past era as well as represent the present with their futuristic style.

It is believed that classical dance in India originated 2BC when the ancient treatise on dance, Natya Shastra, was compiled. Guided by the elaborate codes in the Natya Shastra and by mythology, legend and classical literature, Indian classical dance attracts many tourist all across the world. Classical dance forms have rigid rules for presentation. ASome of the leading dance classical dance form are Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohini Attam.
Originating from North India, Kathak is derived from the word Katha (story). The dance was intiated by the devotional recitation of the story tellers or Kathakars who were attached to the temples. It was essentially peformed in the temples, in the praise of the lord. One can easily see the influence of Mughals on the costume designed for the performer.

Originated in 17 th century, Kathak is a typical dance drama that comes from Kerala and has its roots in Indian mythology. The artiste performs a well written incidence from the Hindu epics or scriptures by suing facial expression and specific hand gestures. With an elaborate costumes. Kathakali dancers use make up that takes several hours to apply.

Much of the story that accompanies the dance is told by singers accompanied by precussion instruments.

Dances Dance of Mohini is quite popular in Indian mythology. Mohini according to legends was a very beautiful woman who attracted people instantly and was an enchantress, thus Mohiniattam is the dance of the enchantress. It is also believed that Lord Vishnu had disguised himself as 'Mohini' with an intention to slay Bhasmasura and also during the churning of nectar from the ocean. But the basis of this dance is not seduction alone. Not many knows that it also signifies transformation of Lord Vishnu into a female form and also the concept of 'Ardhnareeshwara' i.e. male and female as one. Like many other dance forms, this was also restricted to the Devadasis. Love and devotion to god is the major theme behind the dance. Vishnu or Krishna is more often the hero. The spectators could feel his invisible presence when the heroine or her maid details dreams and ambitions through the circular movements, delicate footsteps and subtle expression.

Indian Music
The history of Indian Music goes back to much earlier times. Indian music originated with the early inhabitants of Indian Subcontinent. The Aryans, Mongols, and Dravidians later influenced it. Each intrusion influenced the cultural patterns in India. The tribal people in various parts of the country contributed. There were many forms of music that later amalgamated into one another.

Basically the Indian music is divided into two major sub heads- Carnatic and Hindustani Music.

Carnatic Music
Originating from southern India, Carnatic music is a monophonic song with improvised variations. Right Singing, and the voice as an instrument, is very importantin this classical form. Indian music is based on relative positioning and thus, notes are not a fixed pitch. It generally uses 22 note scale, whereas the Western system uses a 12 note scale. Western music is based on a scale that is logarhythmically divided; this is known as the equally tempered scale. Western music previously used the rational division system, which is known as the natural scale. Indian music uses rational division. Benefitis of rational division are that tuning is usually done by ear and the swara (notes) are not fixed positions.

Hindustani music
Hindustani music is an Indian classical music tradition originating in the North of the Indian subcontinent circa the 13th and 14th centuries CE. Developing a strong and diverse tradition over several centuries, it has contemporary traditions established primarily in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh . In contrast to Carnatic music, the other main Indian classical music tradition originating from the South, Hindustani music was not only influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions, Vedic philosophy and native Indian sounds but also by the Persiam performance practices of the Afghan mughals.

Indian Instruments
Indian Instruments The instruments that are mainly used in Indian music are stringed instruments (Sitar, Tamboora, etc. that are plucked and Sarangi and the Dilurba that are bowed), wind instruments (the Flute, Shehnai, Naferi, and Nagasvaram, all types of Indian oboes), and the percussion instruments (Tabla, Pakhawaj).

Cuisine of India
Most Indian cuisines are related by similiar usage of spices. Often, Indian cooking is distinguished by the use of a larger variety of vegetables than many other well-known cuisines. Within these recognisable similarities, there is an enormous variety of local styles.

In the north and the west, Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisines show strong central Asian influences. Through the medium of Mughlai food, this influence has propagated into many regional kitchens. To the east, the Bengali and Assamese styles shade off into the cuisines of East Asia.

Indian food presents a range of flavors, intense and subtle, as vast as the country itself. Regional influences range from climate and elevation to history and religion. They define cuisines that differ widely -- no surprise in a country of 884 million people occupying an area of 1,226,595 square miles.

Regional Cuisine
A simple breakdown of regional Indian cuisine could be as follows.

On the eastern coast, Bengali cuisine offers spicy fish dishes. Its "burnt milk" sweets are reknowned across the country.

On the western coast, Goa state is famous for its coconut fish curries and pork vindaloo. The starch of choice in Goa is rice.

Rajasthani Woman Gujarati
Gujarati cuisine excels in vegetarian fare. The use of dal (Indian lentils and beans) and vegetables is taken to a high art. Yogurt and butter enrich dishes.

At the foot of the Himalayas, the Kashmiris dine on lamb, goat, chicken and dried fruits. A side dish similar to cottage cheese, called chaman, will often accompany meals.

Southern India
The tropical, humid south produces the spiciest of Indian food. Rice, vegetables, peanuts and coconut are cooked with very little fat and served on a fresh green banana leaf.

Maharashra is the home state of Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Meat dishes are very popular, and Bombay street food is considered some of the best.

This northern province presents the world with the miraculous offerings of the tandoor oven. Tandoori chicken and naan bread are two dishes to emerge from this firey clay roasting vessel. The fresh cheese curd called paneer is common in Punjabi recipes.

The royal cuisine of India's moghul past. The Mongols swept down from Asia in the middle ages and installed a regime in India that affected Indian cookery indelibly. Mughlai cooking is what you are most likely to encounter in fine Indian restaurants. It is sumptuous, buttery and rich. A wide variety of meat dishes predominate. And servings are sometimes garnished with silver leaf and flower petals.

This "state of princes" hones close to its royal past with its rich, lavish fare. Meat dishes are a specialty.

Indian Festivals
Diwali India and festival are synonym to each other. Being a vibrant state, India has evolved over centuries as the mystic land of festivals. Every small and big occasions is celebrated with gaiety , pomp and fervor. These festival are of significant value and helps in binding the people all across the nation.There is an underlying similarity in many of the festivals as are the stark differences in the styles and forms of celebrations observed by different religions. What is unfailingly common and the joyous reason to celebrate is the various gastronomic and aesthetic delights that mark all such celebrations

Though there are many similarties yet these festivals have stark differences in the styles and forms of celebrations observed by different religions. The common part and the joyous reason is to celebrate is the various gastronomic and aesthetic delights that mark all such celebration. Unravel the mythological tales behind many of the popular festivals, unrestricted by any one religion, caste or belief

This Diwali which leads us into Truth and Light is celebrated on a nation-wide scale on Naraka chathurthasi day just on the dawn of Ammavaasa, (September/October) every year. It symbolises that age-old culture of our country which teaches us to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Diwali, the festival of lights even to-day in this modern world projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all the regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of New Year. As such the blessings of Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Lord Vishnu are invoked with prayers. Even countries like Kenya, Thailand, Trinidad, Siam and Malaya celebrate this festival but in their own ways.

The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi is now a symbolic commemmoration of a legend from Hindu Mythology.

Christmas observe as a religious holiday by the christians in India when families will go to church and then gather for a Christmas dinner. Christmas decorations are found inside the home, but there are no lights decorating the yards.

Bakrid is an important festival of Muslims falling in the last month of Islamic Calendar. It is also called as Id-Ul-Zuha, which coincides with the Haj pilgrimage at Mecca. The significance of the festival is the commemoration of the ordeals of Prophet Ibrahim.

Significance of Id-Ul-Zuha or Bakrid lies in the offering of an animal in celebration of the festival Bakrid. As per the doctrine of Islam, sacrifice of animals signifies the sacrifice of the follower himself and his readiness to lay down his life, his interests and desires in the cause of the truth

The British influence from the days before India gained independence has resulted in gift-giving during the Christmas season and dispensing baksheesh (charitable handouts)to poor people of the country.

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