Customs in India
Religion and spiritual themes are very prominent in India’s multi-layered cultures. Although there isn’t one unified Indian culture, there are strong unifying themes that link the various cultures.
This joint culture is evident in their literature and poetry as well as the music – both in its classical forms and in modern Bollywood music. India also has a vast tradition of classical and folk dance. Art and theatre flourish all over India but it is especially evident in the cities, where it is showing increasing western influences.
Families are a very important to Indians, what we would call an extended family in the west is usually part of a tight knit family in India. It is normal for Indians to live with their family all their lives – sons stay with their parents and daughters stay at home until they are married. Recently it has become common for children to move away from their parents’ home for employment and education, however a big family is still seen as normal and an ideal to aspire to. Indians continue to care about their family’s honour, achievements and failures even while they are not living together.
Unlike the UK there is no stigma attached to ‘living with the parents’. The whole relationship is there for support; with parents supporting their children for longer than is common in the west and sons looking after their parents in their old age.
India is fairly layered when it comes to social-class; they care more about a person’s background and position in society than we do in the UK.
When you combine this attitude with the legacy of colonial rule the result is interesting but an unfortunate consequence. Put simply people with pale skin are regarded as a higher class than those with dark skin, who may find they are discriminated against. If you have pale skin and visit India you may find that Indians are eager to meet and please you.
Try to remember that Indians display similar prejudices based on skin colour and ethnicity among themselves and not just towards foreigners – you will even find skin lightning cream in their pharmacies.