India is an enormous country, filled with incredible people and an amazing diversity of traditions, cuisines and religions. Every traveller who visits India quickly falls in love with the friendly locals, the ancient spirituality and of course, the traditional Indian food! From the vibrant festivals to the warm hospitality and the art of bargaining, here are 9 things you’ll love about Indian culture.
1. Indians love to celebrate
You’ve probably heard of a few famous festivals in India, but that’s only scratching the surface of the enormous number of religious festivals celebrated here! You’ll marvel at the joyous celebrations in India, like beautiful Diwali, the five-day Festival of Light. Whether you want to throw colourful powder at Holi, the vibrant Festival of Colours, or witness sacred ceremonies performed on the River Ganges, there are endless ways to embrace your spirituality in India.
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2. Tolerance of all religions and cultures
Religion plays a very important role in many people’s lives in India. While over 80% of the country identifies as Hindu, all religions and cultures are accepted here. India is a secular state, meaning the country does not favour any particular religion. You’ll find everyone from Buddhists and Sikhs to Jains and Muslims to Christians and Jews peacefully practising their faith.
They’ve done so for centuries, as India is the birthplace of four major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It’s also home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population and has welcomed a Christian population since the 1st Century CE. You’ll see ornate Hindu temples standing by mosques and cathedrals everywhere, and it’s all testament to the tolerant nature of Indian culture.
On top of this religious diversity, Indians themselves are a unique bunch. You’ll find different traditions among the different cultures all over India, from the northern mountains to the southern beaches. Take a trip around this amazing country and you’ll discover just how diverse Indian culture can be!
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3. The spiritual side of Indian culture
The deeply devotional nature of Indian culture can be found everywhere, from the beautiful temples to the locals quoting the Gita. Indians have an ancient philosophical culture, and for many, their indigenous religions aren’t just religions – they’re a way of life. Travellers have been drawn to India for centuries in their pursuit for holy wisdom and you’re sure to come away with more than a few gems of spiritual clarity.
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4. The art of bargaining with a smile
Just one trip to the market and you’ll be amazed by the art of Indian bargaining. Nearly everything is negotiable in India, from vegetables to clothes to taxi rides – and it’s always done with a smile. Bargaining is part of Indian culture and it’s not all about “winning” the negotiation by driving down the price. You should always be polite and have fun with it! Don’t haggle over petty amounts and once the seller accepts your price, don’t keep negotiating or say you don’t want to buy, as this is very rude.
As a general rule, don’t accept a price that’s less than 30% off the original asking price. Always shop around at the market and it’s also helpful to speak some of the local language. Try saying “”Yeh kitne ka hai?” (“How much is this?” in Hindi) to break the ice – they’ll appreciate your efforts. You can also ask your Trafalgar Travel Director to help you bargain in the markets too. They’ll be happy to show you the ropes. A quick tip: Many shopkeepers in India believe the first sale of the day is lucky, so get in early and you may get a better price!
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5. Indian culture is all about family
Indians have a fierce sense of love and protection for their family. You’ll see dozens of family members over generations living under a single roof, from children to great-grandparents. Everyone plays a role, whether you work or care for the children and elders, and no one gets left behind. Once you are part of an Indian family, they will always stick by you. If you’re lucky enough to be invited into a home in India, you’ll quickly get a real insight into their strong family ties.
6. Indians are the best hosts
You’ll also get a wonderful insight into India’s legendary hospitality and generosity. It can all be summed up with their motto, the Sanskrit phrase “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning “Guest is equivalent to God”. You’ll find people all over the country willing to help you with everything from getting directions to learning about their culture. If you do get the chance to eat in an Indian home, be warned that your hosts will probably make you eat twice what you normally do, plus dessert!
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7. The traditional Indian food
Speaking of Indian food… it’s delicious! Tasting the real Indian cuisine is one of the best parts of any trip to this wonderful country. You can’t miss all the fragrant curries, soups and rice dishes and you’ll marvel at the perfect balance of spices. Plus, you’ll get to know all kinds of Indian dining etiquette – like the art of eating with your fingers! They say you can learn a lot about cultures by eating their food and this is especially true in India. So dig in!
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8. The ABCs of India
If you’re wondering what to talk about in India, just remember the ABCs of India – Astrology, Bollywood and Cricket. This is the holy trio that is sure to fire up conservation almost anywhere here. These three topics actually attract the most internet traffic in India too. So if you want to get a deeper insight into Indian culture or simply chat with the locals, be sure to brush up on Indian religion, Bollywood movies, and their beloved game of cricket.
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9. Big fat Indian weddings
Indian weddings are a big deal. It’s not just one day of celebration. The average Indian wedding lasts for around three days and some can last a week, with multiple rituals and ceremonies. Also, you don’t just get married on any old day in India. Families of the future couple consult with priests and astrologers to pick an auspicious date. The horoscopes of the couple must also be checked for compatibility.
Throughout the wedding, the bride and groom will be decked out in the most beautiful traditional Indian wedding clothing. The whole event is a joyous affair with plenty of singing, dancing and food. If you’re lucky enough to experience an Indian wedding, it’s sure to be a day (or three!) you’ll never forget.
What are your favourite Indian traditions? Let us know in the comments below!