20+ Fundamental Characteristics of Indian Culture – Lifestyle in India – India is a country that is difficult to talk about. It is so different that any experience can relate only to any particular region. Because in the other, everything is completely different: a different language, a different climate, other traditions, food, gods, clothes. In addition, the country has many social, environmental and other problems that cannot be ignored.
But Happy Worthy Life does not like to focus on the bad. We would like to show another India – without blogging and at the same time without enthusiastic Bollywood tales.
Not only married women put a point on their forehead
Bindi – a neat dot between the eyebrows – a traditional Indian decoration. Married women usually wear more bindi, and free girls put a small dot. Bindi is drawn with a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, saffron and other dyes. Also, bindi stickers are sold in stores – circles of velvet paper or plastic of different sizes and colors that are easy to stick and hold all day.
Most Indians living in cities speak a mixture of English and their native language
English is so tightly embedded in Indian culture that even those who do not speak English use many English words in their speech. Middle-class people from Delhi speak Hinglish, a strange mixture of English and Hindi. The richer and more educated a person, the more foreign words in his speech. By the way, residents of different states – for example, Kerala and Gujarat – are likely to communicate with each other in English, too, because this is the only language that is understood everywhere in India.
Indians are just obsessed with their cinema
Indians idolize their actors and musicians. Ordinary locals know very little about world celebrities. The average citizen may well not know who The Beatles are, and from foreign films at best I’ve heard something about “Terminator”.
Trucks and buses made to decorate
This tradition has been around for several decades. A factory-painted truck in India is hard to meet. From the patterns and other decorations, you can understand what state a car is from, what faith and prosperity its owner is. The cabin and body are decorated with traditional ornaments, images of famous actors, politicians, their own wives and children, lines from mantras, flowers and pigtails.
The cabin is sometimes changed almost completely: the upper part is made wooden so that it does not heat up, and a curly superstructure is erected from above. Decorating trucks and buses from handicraft has become a real business. The cost of a unique design reaches $ 5,000.
The world’s first hospital train
Mobile hospitals have been operating in India since 1991. Medical trains travel by rail in different parts of the country so that even in the most remote corners, people can visit a doctor.
The daily number of rail passengers in India is greater than the population of Australia
In India, trains never arrive on schedule. A few hours late is in the order of things. Long-distance trains to the end of the route may be more than a day late. Tickets for shared wagons are sold without indicating the time of departure – you can board any train, the main thing is that the wagon should be of the same class and the same destination.
Tickets for a car of any category are sold without seats. In higher classes, stewards themselves seat passengers so that there are no heterosexual passengers in the compartment who do not travel together. And in cars that are similar to our reserved seats, passengers occupy any empty seats.
The highest class – 1st with air conditioning – looks like our standard coupe. Such cars are not in every train. There is no analogue of CB in Indian trains. A lower class – wagons like our reserved seat, only with curtains that separate the compartment and side seats. The most popular type of wagon is called Sleeper, it is designed for 72 passengers. There are 6 shelves in the compartment instead of 4. The middle shelves recline only for the night. Air conditioning in such cars is not provided, as they are not glazed. There is a popular belief that a person who did not ride the Indian train, consider, and was not in India.
Every metro and commuter train has women-only cars
Men are not allowed to enter such cars. This is primarily done for the safety of women, who are very often harassed in India.
In large cities, there is a special system for delivering lunch to offices
Couriers (dabbawala) come to the house if the wife prepares dinner for the customer, or pick it up from small companies that specialize in the production of business lunches. Lunch usually consists of several dishes. They are laid out in a very convenient set of containers, which in turn are packed in a thermal bag. The delivery system is very complex and verified by the minute: every lunch, before it reaches the addressee, can change 3-4 couriers, each of which has its own route.
Office workers prefer lunch delivery service to business lunch in cafes and restaurants because they like the personal touch and the proven quality of the products. By the way, there is even a touching Indian film about it – Lunch Box, which was awarded prizes in Cannes.
In a street hairdresser you can get a haircut for 1 Dollar
Women in India rarely have their hair cut, so the majority of men who become hairdressers are men. They can get a new haircut right on the street in an impromptu salon. Hairdressers do not need a license, they can “open” a barbershop right on the sidewalk – a folding chair and a suitcase with tools are enough.
Hand wash is valued more than machine wash
In Mumbai there is a legendary place called Dhobi Ghat (“laundry yard”). This is a whole block of laundries where things are washed manually. The services of these laundries are used by fashionable hotels, hospitals, as well as wealthy residents of the city. It is believed that they wash things much better than washing machines, so the flow of customers from the Dhobi (representatives of the caste that specializes in washing clothes) does not dry out, and renting a cell in the Dhobi Gat historic laundry costs a lot of money.
Any household device in India is assembled at home from improvised means
The coffee maker is Indian.
The concept of jugaad is widespread in India, which cannot be translated into English, but the meaning can be conveyed with the words: “an analogue of any mechanism from improvised means”. Many Indians do not see the point of spending money on all sorts of devices that you can easily assemble yourself (more often they just don’t have money). Exercise machines, fans, coffee machines, antennas – all this and much more will replace the jugaad.
In India there are people of the “third sex”
They are called hijras. These are men from birth who at some point in their life decided to become women. They wear women’s clothing, makeup and jewelry. Hijras usually live in communities and earn a living by dancing at weddings and other celebrations. Often they come without an invitation. If the owners refuse to pay them, the hijras begin to take off their clothes. The sight is not the most pleasant and people are ready to give them money, just not to watch.
Also, many hijras become masters of mehendi and do needlework. Despite the fact that their special status is mentioned in the holy books of Hinduism, today the hijras belong to the untouchable caste and are often discriminated against. Although there is among them the mayor of the city and the university professor.
Indian police pay extra for mustache
Madhya Pradesh decided that mustachioed police inspire more respect than beardless. Therefore, they began to encourage owners of mustaches with a modest surcharge of 30 rupees per month. A special person monitors the shape of the mustache so that it is neat and does not cause fear in people. Only it is not clear how to get an increase in the salary of female police officers.
All products in stores are marked with MRP – maximum retail price
The seller has no right to ask for a bottle of water or a pack of rice more than indicated on it. So the same ice cream in a remote village and on a busy beach will cost the same. Foods suitable for vegetarians are marked with a green dot.
Children sleep in the same bed with parents 6–7 years old
It’s not that parents feel sorry for their child to allocate their own room or at least a bed (although it happens quite often that a family has only one room and one bed). It simply does not occur to the Indians to leave the baby alone in another room.
Small children fail
Eyelids and eyebrows are painted with antimony not only to protect against the evil eye, which the Indians are very afraid of, but also to prevent conjunctivitis. Also, locals believe that it is simply beautiful.
Tea in India is usually drunk with milk and spices.
If you ask for tea in India, then most likely you will be served it in this form. If you want plain black tea without additives, you need to say so. By the way, tea in Hindi will be “tea”. Tea with milk and spices is called “masala tea”.
Sari – the most popular women’s clothing
A sari is a piece of cloth 4–9 m long. There are many ways to “wind” a sari. It is supposed that it should be kept without needles and pins, but in fact many use them. Otherwise, the sari can slip, exposing the stomach, which does not always look aesthetically pleasing.
Saree prices start at 3 dollars for the simplest synthetic fabric and go up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for handmade embroidered with gold.
Wearing a sari is a separate art. Women have to avoid sudden movements – otherwise the robe may slip or lose shape. Despite this, the sari is used as a uniform in local airlines, hotels, banks, schools and other government agencies, and some even play football and ride motorbikes on it.
Indian McDonald’s no pork and beef
India is the country with the lowest meat consumption per capita. The Indian McDonald’s network is the only one in the world where the menu does not have a bigmack, hamburger, cheeseburger and other famous beef and pork sandwiches. Instead of a big mac at Indian McDonald’s, you can try Maharaja Mack – a sandwich with chicken or a vegetable cutlet of your choice.
Before the wedding, be sure to make up the horoscope of the bride and groom
If the stars say that young people do not fit together, the engagement will most likely be terminated. In some northern regions of the country, the bride even changes her name (not only her last name) to better match her husband’s horoscope.
Indians love to get into the Guinness Book of Records
Their creativity in inventing a reason for a record can only be envied. One of the latest achievements is the largest gathering of people dressed as Mahatma Gandhi (851 people). Guinness World Records compilers refuse to register many other attempts. So, the 2-kilometer garland of cupcakes made from cow manure and the 10-hour yoga session on horseback were ignored.
In the southern states, the groom traditionally escapes from his own wedding
The bride’s father must run after him, begging to marry his daughter. In addition, the bride’s family must pay a considerable amount of money to the parents of the groom. A wedding party is always much more expensive than a family can afford. Even the poorest wedding gathers 300 guests.
Guests, even not rich, give gold and a decent amount of money, which sometimes equals their salary for several months. To give a more modest gift is considered impolite. Mothers (both the bride and groom) are not allowed to attend the wedding ceremony.
We hope the article helped you look at India from a different perspective. Have you been to this country? Tell us about your first impressions of India: what pleasantly surprised you and what became a cultural shock? And if you haven’t, would you like to go?
Preview Photo Credit Wikipedia