With a population of over a billion people India is one of the most diverse nations on Earth. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of many of the world’s major religions and as such many aspects of Indian society are influenced by religion and customs.
India was the birthplace of the Buddha and as such saw his preaching spread throughout the subcontinent and from there to the rest of Asia and the world. The dominant religion in India however is Hinduism which is a religion that unlike Christianity or Islam worships a pantheon of different gods. Many of the world’s modern stories and legends originate from Hindu and Indian history. Other major religions in India include Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and Christianity.
Customs and celebrations
The country has a number of public holidays that celebrate the nation’s independence as well as a number of important Hindu festivals. On the 26th of January the county celebrates Republic day, Independence Day on the 15th of August and Ghandi’s birthday on October the second.
India is famous for the artwork of its ancient history but in the modern world it is probably most famous for its film industry known as Bollywood. Indian traditional dance is also well known, often being used in movies and has been performed for more than 2000 years.
The most well-known example of Indian architecture is of course the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to honour his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. India also has many ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Indian cuisine is influenced by Arab and European influences and is known for its large assortment of dishes and liberal use of herbs and spices. Cooking styles vary from region to region. Rice dishes and curry’s are most popular. Many Hindus are vegetarian, but lamb and chicken are commonly used throughout India. Beef however is rare as in Hindi the cow is a sacred animal and the slaughter of cows is illegal in all but two of India’s provinces.