India


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Land of culture and diversity

India is a country located in Asia, currently the second-most populated country in the world, nearing 1 billion inhabitants. It is often considered a country of great poverty and both political and economic strife. However, its history is among the most ancient and diverse.

India's people speak over 30 major languages (over 100 languages total), aside from local dialects and recently imported languages.

India is the birthplace of one of the world's oldest religions, Hinduism, Buddhism (2550 years old) and the more recent Sikhism. While Hinduism began well over 3500 years ago in India, and Buddhism as well originated in India, India is also among the early places of practice of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. An ancient synagogue was erected by explorers in Kerala on the west coast. St. Thomas brought Christianity to India in 50 A.D. Mughal emperors brought along with their rule the practices and customs of the Islamic religion.

India also houses colonies ruled by several countries. India itself once ruled by the Mughals, then by the British (independence regained on August 15, 1947), the Portuguese took Goa and Pondicherry was ruled by the French.

India has a rich cultural history, with several types of classical dance (Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohini Aattam, etc.) and non-classical dance (Garba, Raas, Banghra, Tiruvaadhirai kali, among others) and classical (Hindustani and Carnatic) and non-classical music forms. Hindu temples and other sites around the country are adorned with elaborate sculptures, and all religions have great architectural marvels, among the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal. Rajasthan and Tanjore are famous for their paintings, and several areas are reknowned for their work with silk, weaving, and dyeing. Indian clothing is known for its brightness and variety of color. Cottage industries create pottery, clothing, furniture, tapestries, and other fine hand-made works.

India's literary history is also world-famous. The ancient sages wrote the four Vedas, the 18 Puranas, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata (containing the Bhagavad Gita), and the Ramayana, known as great literary works. Poets like Tagore, Kalidas, Bharathiyar, and Kamban have composed poetry in their respective languages. Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi, Telegu and Tamil are rich in literature, as are some of the other languages as well.

Historically, Indians have been great "Watchers of the skies," and the studies of astrology and astronomy are woven into everyday life. This intense interest in the movements of heavenly bodies led to a detailed understanding of mathematics and calculation, from simple arithmetic to calculus and higher math. Indians have also studied medicine, with ayurveda (herbal treatment), homeopathy, and naturopathy in wide practice in addition to traditional Western medicine. As a result, several Indian plants and products have been found to have potent medicinal properties. Yoga is often used as not only a spiritual discipline but also as exercise and for healing.

India is also home of the Himalayas, the beautiful Kashmir region, the lush greenery of Kerala, rainforests, exotic wildlife and tropical plants, the sacred river Ganga, among many other places, each of which is unique and beautiful in its own way.

English words from India - NEW!

Fascinating India facts

The Colors of India

Famous Tamil Poet Bharathiyar

Why is the cow so sacred in Indian religions?

What to bring if you're coming from India

The Philosophy of Hinduism

Symbolism in Hinduism

South Indian Carnatic Music

Tamil Film Songs

For more information on any topic concerning India and other South Asian countries, go to http://www.samilan.com.


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updated 6/24/02