India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture and customs differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless possess a commonality. The culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse sub-cultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old.
Regarded by some historians as the "oldest living civilization of Earth", the Indian tradition dates back to 8,000 BC and has a continuous recorded history for over 2,500 years. Several elements of India's diverse culture — such as Indian religions, yóga and Indian cuisine — have had a profound impact across the world.
Religions and spirituality
Close-up of a statue depicting Maitreya at the Thikse Monastery in Ladakh, India. Dharmic religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, are indigenous to India.5 Main articles: Religion in India and Indian religions
India is the birth place of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, collectively known as Indian religions.6 Indian religions, also known as Dharmic religions are a major form of world religions along with Abrahamic ones. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world's third- and fourth-largest religions respectively, with over 2 billion followers altogether,789 and possibly as many as 2.5 or 2.6 billion followers.710 India is also the birthplace for the Lingayat and Ahmadiyya faiths.
India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion still plays a central and definitive role in the life of most of its people.
The religion of 80% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by around 13% of all Indians.11 Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Despite the strong role of religion in Indian life, atheism and agnostics also have visible influence along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other people.
According to Eugene M. Makar, traditional Indian culture is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. He also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society.12 This is reinforced by the fact that many believe gods and spirits have an integral and functional role in determining their life.12 Several differences such as religion divide the culture.12 However, a far more powerful division is the traditional Hindu bifurcation into non-polluting and polluting occupations.12 Strict social taboos have governed these groups for thousands of years.12 In recent years, particularly in cities, some of these lines have blurred and sometimes even disappeared.12 Important family relations extend as far as gotra, the mainly patrilinear lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth.12 In rural areas & sometimes in urban areas as well, it is common that three or four generations of the family live under the same roof.12 The patriarch often resolves family issues.12
Main articles: Hindu joint family, Arranged marriage in India, and Women in India
A bride during a traditional Punjabi Hindu wedding ceremony. Family plays a significant role in the Indian culture. For generations, India has had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together. Usually, the eldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system. He makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members abide by them.
For centuries, arranged marriages have been the tradition in Indian society. Even today, the vast majority of Indians have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members, with the consent of the bride and groom. They also demand dowry, which has...