The people of India reflect the country’s rich diversity in terms of religion, language, landscape and culture. However, a common defining feature is this nation’s focus on the community and on sharing resources, time and celebrations. History and tradition is very important to Indian folk, who make these elements integral parts of their daily lives, worship, dress, food and family customs (e.g. weddings). While the details may differ from one region to the next, they are still common features amongst all Indians.
The differences in cultural elements amongst these people are usually as a result of geographical positioning and outside influences. For instance, the clothing and food in the cold Himalayan areas will be very different to those in the far warmer deltas of the East. In addition, some areas have had more exposure to the western world and are, therefore, more exposed to modern trends and customs. The people in these regions have adopted less traditional approaches to working, studying, marrying and religious practices. Indian people act as a community. Weddings, funerals and births are celebrated by all of the members in a particular village or town, creating a sense of unity amongst the individuals. People will arrive at the celebrations bearing food and gifts, assisting with the setting up, cleaning and cooking. This cooperation engenders a sense of true community and mutual benefit, drawing these people closer together. The Indian culture trickles down to an individual level, so that each person demonstrates an attitude of tolerance, empathy and responsibility for those around them. The result is an empathetic, cooperative nation that seeks the good of others. This is certainly a desirable attitude to display, coveted by those in lands of unrest.
The identity of Indian people has much to do with the caste system. This system originated from the period after the Aryan invasion and saw the people dividing themselves into five castes. Each caste belongs to a certain social, cultural and economic group. The lowest group would be responsible for garbage collection and sewerage eradication as they are considered to be the least cultured and educated. This caste is followed by the shudras, who work on the farms and in the homes of others, but own no land themselves. This has the highest population in India. The vaishyas are farmers or traders who own their own land and business, followed by the warriors, or Kshatriya. The Brahmans refer to the priests and leaders of the country and are considered to be the highest class in India. Within the castes are many “grey areas”, categories that cannot clearly be defined. While this system has developed and the lines have blurred somewhat in modern times, many Indian people still adhere strictly to the caste system, which dictates that only couples from the same caste can marry, amongst other laws.
India is a colourful land, enriched by its complex history and religions as well as by the unique approach of the individuals, seeking to live an integrated and united life. As Indian folk spread across the world, occupying other lands, they continue to maintain this sense of unity, not only with other Indians, but also with foreigners. This should be viewed as an important example for others to imitate.