Thursday, July 12, 2012

CULTURE OF INDIA

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Culture of India

Few countries in the world have such an ancient and diverse culture as India¡¯s. India¡¯s physical, religious and racial variety is as important as the history of how it became what ¡°Modern India.¡± India is where people live with variety, thrive on diversity and are too familiar with largeness to let it boggle them. Stretching back in an unbroken sweep over five thousand years, India¡¯s culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration, which were absorbed into the Indian way of life. It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and social structure from the very earliest times until the present.

Although India occupies only .4% of the worlds land area, it supports over 15% of the worlds population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 00 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis. India accounts for some .4 percent of the worlds landmass but is home to about 16 percent of the global population. The magnitude of the annual increase in population can be seen in the fact that India adds almost the total population of Australia or Sri Lanka every year. A 1 study of Indias population notes that India has more people than all of Africa and also more than North America and South America together. Between 147 and 11, Indias population more than doubled. (Embassy of India)

There are fifteen national languages recognized by the Indian constitution and these are spoken in over sixteen hundred dialects. Add to this a population of over 00 million today, and that will give you an idea of how many different ways of communication takes place. Indias official language is Hindi in the Devnagri script. However, English continues to be the official working language. For many educated Indians, English is virtually their first language, and for a great number of Indians who are multi-lingual, it will probably be the second. Hindi is spoken as a mother tongue by about forty-five percent of the Indians. Indian languages have evolved from different stocks and are closely associated with the different ethnic groups of India. (Arnett, Robert)

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To the foreign traveler, one of the powerful attractions in India is the colorful and diversified attire of its people. The silk saris, brightly mirrored cholis, colorful lehangas and the traditional shalwar-kameez have fascinated many a traveler over the centuries. (Arnett, Robert)

For a single length of material, the sari must be the most versatile garment in existence. It is only one of the many traditional garments worn by women, yet it has somehow become the national dress of Indian women. A sari is a rectangular piece of cloth which is five to six yards in length. The style, color and texture of this cloth vary and it might be made from cotton, silk or one of the several man-made materials. The sari has an ageless charm since it is not cut or tailored for a particular size. This garment can fit any size and if worn properly can accentuate or conceal. This supremely graceful attire can also be worn in several ways and its manner of wearing as well as its color and texture are indicative of the status, age, occupation, region and religion of a woman. (Arnett Robert)

Another popular attire of women in India is the shalwar-kameez. This dress evolved as a comfortable and respectable garment for women in Kashmir and Punjab, but is now immensely popular in all regions of India. Shalwars are pajama-like trousers drawn tightly in at the waist and the ankles. Over the shalwars, women wear a long and loose tunic known as a kameez. One might occasionally come across women wearing a churidar instead of a shalwar. A churidar is similar to the shalwar but is tighter fitting at the hips, thighs and ankles. Over this, one might wear a collarless or mandarin-collar tunic called a kurta. . (Singh, Sarina)

Though the majority of Indian women wear traditional costumes, the men in India can be found in more conventional western clothing. Shirts and trousers are worn by men from all regions in India. However, men in villages are still more comfortable in traditional attire like kurtas, lungis, dhotis and pajamas. The traditional lungi originated in the south and today it is worn by men and women alike. It is simply a short length of material worn around the thighs rather like a sarong. A dhoti is a longer lungi but with an additional length of material pulled up between the legs. Pajama-like trousers worn by the villagers are known as the lenga. Indian dressing styles are marked by many variations, both religious and regional and one is likely to witness a plethora of colors, textures and styles in garments worn by the Indians. (Singh, Sarina)

The food available in India is as diverse as its culture, its racial structure, its geography and its climate. The essence of good Indian cooking revolves around the appropriate use of aromatic spices. The skill lies in the blending of a variety of spices to enhance rather than overwhelm the basic flavor of a particular dish. These spices are also used as appetizers. Besides spices, the other main ingredients of Indian cooking and Indian meals are milk products like ghee and curd or dahi. Lentils or dals are also common across the country. Vegetables naturally differ across regions and with seasons. The style of cooking vegetables is dependent upon the main dish or cereal with which they are served. Although a number of religions exist in India, the two cultures that have influenced Indian cooking and food habits are the Hindu and the Muslim traditions. Over time they adopted a lot of specialties and cooking methods from the Indian cuisine and blended the two to perfection. The Hindu vegetarian tradition is widespread in India, although many Hindus eat meat now. A typical North-Indian meal would consist of chapatis or rotis (unleavened bread baked on a griddle) or parathas (unleavened bread fried on a griddle), rice and an assortment of accessories like dals, fried vegetables, curries, curd, chutney, and pickles. For dessert one could choose from rasagulla, sandesh, rasamalai and gulab-jamuns. One of the most enduring achievements of Indian civilization is undoubtedly its architecture. The artistic and architectural heritages of India are almost five millennia old. (Treasure House of India¡¯s Culture and Heritage)

India- the name brings up images of mysticism and maharajas, tigers and elephants, Gandhi and the British Raj. But theres much more to India, a country of endless variety that offers you a stupendous range of colors, scents, styles, customs, languages, architecture and geography. Visiting India is like visiting several countries rolled into one. The diversity of Indias geography, climate, history and culture ensures that whatever you are seeking whether it is sun and sand or mountains and snow, historical sightseeing or adventure holidays or an ever-changing human panorama with different languages, racial characteristics, customs, religions, social norms and lifestyles can be found in India at any time of the year. (Werdler, Karel)

Tourists come to India for its wealth of sights, cultural exuberance, and diversity of terrain and in search of that special something, an extra punch that only this country promises and delivers. Tourists from all over the world visit Agra not to see the ruins of the red sandstone fortress built by the Mughal emperors but to make a pilgrimage to Taj Mahal, India¡¯s most famous architectural wonder, also the seventh wonder of the world is in a land where magnificent temples and edificies abound to remind visitors about the rich civilization of a country that is slowly but surely lifting itself into an industrialized society. (Singh, Sarina)

India has the unique distinction of producing the largest number of movies anywhere in the world the legacy of dance in India is tremendous. On temple walls, on an urban stage, in impromptu outbursts by a mellow evening fire, men and women twinkle their toes in expressions of joy. The classical dances of India are numerous. Characterised by stylised movements and elaborate costumes, these dances communicate age-old tales of love, longing and rage. As in most things in India, myth and legend find expression here too, as the epic tales of Ramayana and the Mahabharata are brought to life in nritya and in many languages. With the first Indian movie having been made in 11, the first talkie in 11 and with the largest output of feature films in the world today, from pot-boilers to films which have attracted international acclaim. The advent of cable has given new life to television-oriented projects and soap operas, comedy serials and the like are rapidly adding to the many diverse facets of Indian culture. (Tobias, Michael)

Undoubtedly the first sport that comes to mind when one thinks of Indian sports today is cricket. Brought to India by her British colonisers, cricket so captured the nation¡¯s imagination that observers are more or less agreed that today it is the one religion that unites India. Hockey, Polo, Soccer, Kabbadi, and Kho-Kho are some other sports that are played in India.

The legacy of dance in India is tremendous. On temple walls, on an urban stage, in impromptu outbursts by a mellow evening fire, men and women twinkle their toes in expressions of joy. The classical dances of India are numerous. Characterised by stylised movements and elaborate costumes, these dances communicate age-old tales of love, longing and rage. As in most things in India, myth and legend find expression here too, as the epic tales of Ramayana and the Mahabharata are brought to life in nritya. (Tobias, Michael)

Modern India presents a picture of unity in diversity to which history provides no parallel. The culture of the people of India is one of the most unique in the entire world. There is so much that can be studied about the history, language, food, and religions that are all very fascinating. India has dominated the world stage through most of human history, as the home of mighty empires, as a powerful trading nation, and as a wellspring of culture and civilization. India has always intrigued and fascinated the rest of the world. India is the birthplace of civilizations, cradle of religions, still home to almost a quarter of the worlds people. India has dominated the world stage through most of human history, as the home of mighty empires, as a powerful trading nation, and as a wellspring of culture and civilization.

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