About Art & Culture
Culture plays an important role in the development of any nation. It represents a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices. Culture and creativity manifest themselves in almost all economic, social and other activities. A country as diverse as India is symbolized by the plurality of its culture.
India has one of the world’s largest collections of songs, music, dance, theatre, folk traditions, performing arts, rites and rituals, paintings and writings that are known, as the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) of humanity. In order to preserve these elements, the Ministry of Culture implements a number of schemes and programmes aimed at providing financial support to individuals, groups and cultural organizations engaged in performing, visual and literary arts etc.
This section offers comprehensive information related to cultural heritage, ancient monuments, literary arts, visual arts, schemes, programmes, performing arts, fairs and festivals and handicraft of India. Detailed information on various organizations involved in promotion and propagation of Indian art and culture is also available in this section.
India is the motherland of art, culture and architecture all across the globe where each historical monument in the country like the forts, palaces, caves, temples, mosques and churches reflect the glory of the era to which they belonged. The Art and Culture Tour of India unravels an unforgettable journey of the monuments of the olden times in India like the Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh; Ajanta Ellora caves near Aurangabad in Maharashtra; the mesmerising temples of Khajuraho and South India along with many more structures portray the enriched architecture of India in the olden times.
Indian traditional art forms are the most evolved and cultured systems in the world where carnatic music, classical dance styles like Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri etc, theatre and various drama forms including Harikatha and folk arts are amongst the traditional and ancient art and entertainment forms today. Indian films of today were based on the traditional arts in their formative years during 1930’s and 40’s. Indian cinema especially Hindi and Telugu, Tamil cinema have evolved as the largest film industries in the world next only to Hollywood.
Indian classical arts like classical music, classical dance, theatre and drama possesses traditions and history dating back to several centuries and Carnatic and Hindustani music have their roots in “Sama Veda” one of the four Vedas which are the eternal and timeless scriptures from which the religious and social ethos of the sub-continent evolved. Bharatnatyam, a celebrated dance form too is based on authoritative sources like “Natya Sastra” by the sage Bharata Muni and “Abhinaya Darpana” by Nandi Kesava dating back to centuries before Christ.
Culture of India
Art and Culture of IndiaIndian culture is rich, diverse and unique in the whole world as the people in the country belong to different religions, castes, creed; speak different languages; enjoy different kind of cuisines. People belonging to different religions celebrate different festivals with great enthusiasm and zeal.
The major religions followed within India are Hinduism (80%), Islam (14%), Christianity (2.4%), Sikhism (2%), Buddhism( 0.7%), Jainism (0.5%). The people belonging to different ethnic groups are Indo-Aryans(72%), Dravidians (25%) and Others(3%). There are hundreds of tribal communities. There are about 1600 languages spoken throughout the country.
Indian culture is so diverse that it is very difficult to explain it. Every region and every state has a culture and tradition of its own. Even in one single state different communities follow different customs. Every region has it own cuisine, clothing, language, etc. The appearances of the people too differ from one another depending on the region one belongs to. The diverse climate and the diverse landscape too plays a major role in the diverse culture of India.
People belonging to different regions celebrate different festivals all round the year. Some of the important Hindu festivals celebrated are Holi, Diwali, Dussehra, Ganesh Utsav; Muslim festivals celebrated are Iid and Bakriid and the Christian festivals celebrated are Christmas, and Easter.
Languages and literature
Sanskrit has had a profound impact on the languages and literature of India. Hindi, India’s most spoken language, is a “Sanskritised register” of the Khariboli dialect. In addition, all modern Indo-Aryan languages, Munda languages and Dravidian languages, have borrowed many words either directly from Sanskrit (tatsama words), or indirectly via middle Indo-Aryan languages (tadbhava words).Words originating in Sanskrit are estimated to constitute roughly fifty percent of the vocabulary of modern Indo-Aryan languages,and the literary forms of (Dravidian) Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Tamil, although to a slightly smaller extent, has also been significantly influenced by Sanskrit. Part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, the Bengali language arose from the eastern Middle Indic languages and its roots are traced to the 5th-century BCE Ardhamagadhi language.
Another major Classical Dravidian language, Kannada is attested epigraphically from the mid-1st millennium AD, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 9th- to 10th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Pre-old Kannada (or Purava Hazhe-Gannada) was the language of Banavasi in the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods and hence has a history of over 2000 years.The Ashoka rock edict found at Brahmagiri (dated 230 BCE) has been suggested to contain a word in identifiable Kannada.
Odia is India’s 6th classical language in addition to Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.It is also one of the 22 official languages in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution. Oriya’s importance to Indian culture, from ancient times, is evidenced by its presence in Ashoka’s Rock Edict X, dated to be from 2nd century BC.
The Mahabharata and the Ramayaṇa are the oldest preserved and well-known epics of India. Versions have been adopted as the epics of Southeast Asian countries like Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (kandas) and 500 cantos (sargas),and tells the story of Rama (an incarnation or Avatar of the Hindu preserver-god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. This epic played a pivotal role in establishing the role of dharma as a principal ideal guiding force for Hindu way of life.The earliest parts of the Mahabharata text date to 400 BCand is estimated to have reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century AD).Other regional variations of these, as well as unrelated epics include the Tamil Ramavataram, Kannada Pampa Bharata, Hindi Ramacharitamanasa, and Malayalam Adhyathmaramayanam. In addition to these two great Indian epics, there are The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature composed in classical Tamil language — Manimegalai, Cīvaka Cintamani, Silappadikaram, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi.
Traditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of the country and is influenced by local culture, geography, climate and rural/urban settings. Popular styles of dress include draped garments such as sari and mekhela sador for women and dhoti or lungi or panche (in Kannada) for men. Stitched clothes are also popular such as churidar or salwar-kameez for women, with dupatta (long scarf) thrown over shoulder completing the outfit. Salwar is often loose fitting, while churidar is a tighter cut.The dastar, a headgear worn by Sikhs is common in Punjab.
Indian women perfect their sense of charm and fashion with makeup and ornaments. Bindi, mehendi, earrings, bangles and other jewelry are common. On special occasions, such as marriage ceremonies and festivals, women may wear cheerful colours with various ornaments made with gold, silver or other regional stones and gems. Bindi is often an essential part of a Hindu woman’s make up. Worn on their forehead, some consider the bindi as an auspicious mark. Traditionally, the red bindi was worn only by married Hindu women, and coloured bindi was worn by single women, but now all colours and glitter has become a part of women’s fashion. Some women wear sindoor – a traditional red or orange-red powder (vermilion) in the parting of their hair (locally called mang). Sindoor is the traditional mark of a married woman for Hindus. Single Hindu women do not wear sindoor; neither do over 1 million Indian women from religions other than Hindu and agnostics/atheists who may be married.The make up and clothing styles differ regionally between the Hindu groups, and also by climate or religion, with Christians preferring Western and Muslim preferring the Arabic styles.For men, stitched versions include kurta-pyjama and European-style trousers and shirts. In urban and semi-urban centres, men and women of all religious backgrounds, can often be seen in jeans, trousers, shirts, suits, kurtas and variety of other fashions.