Facts About India


Culture

Indian cultural history spans more than 4,500 years. During the Vedic period (c. 1700 – 500 BCE), the foundations of Hindu philosophy, mythology, theology and literature were laid, and many beliefs and practices which still exist today, such as dharma, karma, yoga, and moksha, were established.

India is notable for its religious diversity, with Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Jainism among the nation's major religions. The predominant religion, Hinduism, has been shaped by various historical schools of thought, including those of the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhakti movement, and by Buddhist philosophy.

Art and Architecture

Much of Indian architecture, including the Taj Mahal, other works of Mughal architecture, and South Indian architecture, blends ancient local traditions with imported styles. Vernacular architecture is also highly regional in it flavours. Vastushastra, literally "science of construction" or "architecture" and ascribed to Mamuni Mayan, explores how the laws of nature affect human dwellings;[295] it employs precise geometry and directional alignments to reflect perceived cosmic constructs. As applied in Hindu temple architecture, it is influenced by the Shilpa Shastras, a series of foundational texts whose basic mythological form is the Vastu-Purusha mandala, a square that embodied the "absolute".

The Taj Mahal, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by orders of Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, has been described in the UNESCO World Heritage List as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, developed by the British in the late 19th century, drew on Indo-Islamic architecture.

Literature

The earliest literary writings in India, composed between 1700 BCE and 1200 CE, were in the Sanskrit language. Prominent works of this Sanskrit literature include epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the dramas of Kālidāsa such as the Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Śakuntalā), and poetry such as the Mahākāvya. Kamasutra, the famous book about sexual intercourse also originated in India. Developed between 600 BCE and 300 CE in South India, the Sangam literature, consisting of 2,381 poems, is regarded as a predecessor of Tamil literature.

From the 14th to the 18th centuries, India's literary traditions went through a period of drastic change because of the emergence of devotional poets such as Kabīr, Tulsīdās, and Guru Nānak. This period was characterised by a varied and wide spectrum of thought and expression; as a consequence, medieval Indian literary works differed significantly from classical traditions. In the 19th century, Indian writers took a new interest in social questions and psychological descriptions. In the 20th century, Indian literature was influenced by the works of Bengali poet and novelist Rabindranath Tagore.

Performing arts

Indian music ranges over various traditions and regional styles. Classical music encompasses two genres and they’re various folk offshoots: the northern Hindustani and southern Carnatic schools. Regionalised popular forms include filmi and folk music; the syncretic tradition of the bauls is a well-known form of the latter. Indian dance also features diverse folk and classical forms. Among the better-known folk dances are the bhangra of Punjab, the bihu of Assam, the chhau of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, garba and dandiya of Gujarat, ghoomar of Rajasthan, and the lavani of Maharashtra. Eight dance forms, many with narrative forms and mythological elements, have been accorded classical dance status by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama.

These are: bharatanatyam of the state of Tamil Nadu, kathak of Uttar Pradesh, kathakali and mohiniyattam of Kerala, kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh, manipuri of Manipur, odissi of Odisha, and the sattriya of Assam. Theatre in India melds music, dance, and improvised or written dialogue. Often based on Hindu mythology, but also borrowing from medieval romances or social and political events, Indian theatre includes the bhavai of Gujarat, the jatra of West Bengal, the nautanki and ramlila of North India, tamasha of Maharashtra, burrakatha of Andhra Pradesh, terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and the yakshagana of Karnataka.

Cuisine

Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines, often depending on a particular state (such as Maharashtrian cuisine). Staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bājra), rice, whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), and a variety of lentils, such as masoor (most often red lentils), toor (pigeon peas), urad (black gram), and mong (mung beans). Lentils may be used whole, dehusked—for example, dhulimoong or dhuliurad—or split. Split lentils, or dal, are used extensively. The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery.

Society

Tourists from North-East India, wrapped in sarongs and shawls, visit the Taj Mahal. Traditional Indian society is sometimes defined by social hierarchy. The Indian caste system embodies much of the social stratification and many of the social restrictions found in the Indian subcontinent. Social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as jātis, or "castes".

India declared untouchability to be illegal in 1947 and has since enacted other anti-discriminatory laws and social welfare initiatives. At the workplace in urban India and in international or leading Indian companies, the caste related identification has pretty much lost its importance.

Family values are important in the Indian tradition, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm in India, though nuclear families are becoming common in urban areas. An overwhelming majority of Indians, with their consent, have their marriages arranged by their parents or other elders in the family. Marriage is thought to be for life and the divorce rate is extremely low. As of 2001, just 1.6 percent of Indian women were divorced but this figure was rising due to their education and economic independence. Child marriages are common, especially in rural areas; many women wed before reaching 18, which is their legal marriageable age. Female infanticide and female foeticide in the country have caused a discrepancy in the sex ratio, as of 2005 it was estimated that there were 50 million more males than females in the nation. However a report from 2011 has shown improvement in the gender ratio.

The payment of dowry, although illegal, remains widespread across class lines. Deaths resulting from dowry, mostly from bride burning, are on the rise. Many Indian festivals are religious in origin. The best known include Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Thai Pongal, Holi, Durga Puja, Eidul-Fitr, Bakr-Id, Christmas, and Vaisakhi. India has three national holidays which are observed in all states and union territories – Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Other sets of holidays, varying between nine and twelve, are officially observed in individual states.

Clothing

Cotton was domesticated in India by 4000 BCE. Traditional Indian dress varies in colour and style across regions and depends on various factors, including climate and faith. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as the sari for women and the dhoti or lungi for men. Stitched clothes, such as the shalwar-kameez for women and kurta–pyjama combinations or European-style trousers and shirts for men, are also popular. Use of delicate jewellery, modelled on real flowers worn in ancient India, is part of a tradition dating back some 5,000 years; gemstones are also worn in India as talismans.

Electricity

India uses 230 Volts, 50 Hz alternating current as the power source. Plugs and sockets have either grounded/earthed 3 Pin connections (Type D) or ungrounded 2 pin connections (Type C). The two pin plug is also called the Europlug. It has two round 4 mm (0.157 in) pins. It can be inserted in either way into the socket. Hence there is no fixed live (hot) and neutral (cold) terminals.

The three pin plug is rated at 6A/250V. It has three round pins in a triangular pattern. The earth terminal is slightly larger than the live and neutral terminals. For Higher current, there is a 15 Amp version of the same 3 Pin plug, usually called the Power Plug or the M Plug. Live and neutral are 1 inch (25.4 mm) apart. Earth terminal is 1+1⁄8 in (28.58 mm) away from live and neutral terminals. Typically, refrigerators, heaters and other high power devices are connected to this 15 Amp socket.

Will a standard European electric plug (2 round pins) fit into a power point in India? Yes. To insert the 2 pin plug into a Type D 3 Pin socket which in some cases may be closed by default, push a pen into the Ground/Earth terminal. This opens up the protected 2 Pin terminals and you can insert the 2 Pin plug. Will a standard America electric plug fit into a power point in India? No. But any electrical store will sell you an adapter (picture) for around 50 cents (Rs. 25 approx) or less.

Languages

Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%. English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language.

Climate

Seasons Month Av. Temp (Min-Max) Climate Clothing
Winter December to January 5o to 25o Very Cool Woolen & Body Warmers
Spring Feburary to March 20o to 25o Sunny and pleasant Light woolens
Summerv April to June 25o to 45o Hot Light Cottons
Monsoon July to Mid-September 30o to 35o Wet, hot and humid Light Cottons
Autumn September end to November 20o to 30o Pleasant Cottons & Light Woolens

Currency

The Rupee, or more specifically the Indian rupee (symbol: ₹; ISO code: INR) is the official currency of the Republic of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India. It is named after the silver coin, rupiya, first issued by Sultan Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century and later continued by the Mughal Empire.

The modern rupee is theoretically subdivided into 100 paise (singular paisa), though as of 2011 only 50 paise coins are legal tender. Banknotes in circulation come in denominations of ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹500 and ₹1000. Rupee coins are available in denominations of ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10. For special bank uses there are coin of ₹20,₹60,₹100,₹150 and ₹1000. (These coins are recently launched in India by the Reserve Bank of India.)

The Indian rupee symbol '₹' (officially adopted in 2010) is derived from the Devanagari consonant "र" (ra). The first series of coins with the rupee symbol was launched on 8 July 2011.