By Gururaj Rao:
Very few countries in the world have such diverse and ancient culture as ours. Several components of our culture have had a profound significance on the entire world. Our nation’s religious, physical and racial variety is as essential as our history and how India has evolved into what it is today. Ours is a land of glorious flamboyance. As soon as you step into this vast country your senses are automatically suffused with a riot of vibrant colours, earth-rich smells, tingling tastes and a tapestry of textures and sounds. Everything here; be it religion, caste, customs, traditions or language, possesses a distinct commonality!
Celebrations of any type are all larger-than-life events that call for public participation and collective self-expression and we are united by this very common spirit. These factors together bridge linguistic and cultural divides and geographical boundaries and lend a unique identity to the heart and soul of India.
Every region in the country has a specific culture and a definitive style which is visible and echoed in the aesthetics of its homes. Take for instance Kerala, which is famous for its wooden houses. On the other hand, in Kashmir, Himalayan flora and fauna are a source of inspiration for the delicate embroidered shapes which mimic the leaves of the chinar tree flowers. Fruit designs appear in carvings and mouldings and embroidery and exquisitely embellish homes and houseboats of that region.
Our diverse and very ancient culture has also been influenced by the constant influx of different cultures over centuries. An apt example of this would be that of Muslim influence clearly evident in the ornate filigrees, arches and domes throughout north India where the Mughals ruled for over 400 years. Also, it is not surprising to find stiff Victorian edifices studded with gargoyles next to Hindu temples which are sculpted with sensuous gods which is of course the Portuguese influence because they bought with them a tinge of both Gothic and the baroque.
Way before the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BC, the concepts of air, fire, water, earth and space which are the five elements had been ingrained into the fabric of India. Indian beliefs have always been dedicated to nature worship. Unlike in western culture, where the space concept is very abstract, to us, it is used to represent the vast vacuum beyond ordinary perception. It is the symbol of a huge power of some unseen force which means that it is a source of inspiration to many.
These are just a few points which prove a larger point! Indeed, our culture is truly exceptional.