Indian Culture vs Western Culture: The Beauty of Diversity

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Indian-Culture-vs-Western-Culture

The debate on Indian culture vs Western Culture has been going on for a long time. Everyone contributes their unique insights on the topic. Both these cultures are unique, significant, and beautiful in their distinguished ways. The world, as we know it today, would never have existed had either of these cultures been absent. 

Western Culture derives most of its customs and traditions from the European culture. Indian culture, however, is more diverse. Each state in the country brings with it, its traditions and cultures that are quite different from those of its neighbor. Analyzing the differences between them, it comes as no surprise that the ever-living debate on Indian culture vs Western culture still finds an audience.

The History

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Left Image – Wikimedia, Right Image – Wikimedia

The term culture refers to the norms, rituals, beliefs, and practices followed by a set of people belonging to a particular region or community. Each nation and continent has its own culture. It is this knowledge of their indigenous culture that distinguishes a particular nation or community from others. The culture of land has a considerable role in influencing the lifestyle of its natives.

Indian History is quite ancient in comparison to the Western history. In fact, Indian history is said to have been begun with the advent of the Indus Valley civilization in 2600 BC. Through the ages, the country had undergone a number of changes, which are aptly reflected in the art, culture, literature and architecture of India.

Western civilization is also quite ancient and is said to have had its roots in the ancient civilization of Greece. Through the ages, the western culture and civilizations have provided a number of significant contributions to world literature and architecture. A glimpse through the western history would undoubtedly reveal several literary and artistic legends such as Michelangelo and William Shakespeare, who have been stalwarts in shaping the culture of the Western world today.

Religion

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India is the land of many religion, though majority of the Indian population follow Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Jainism are also practiced by a significant number of people. In most Western countries, Christianity is the most followed religion, with Islam and Judaism also being practiced by a considerable number of people.

Festivals

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Indian culture is one of the most ancient cultures, which is prevalent in the world today. India is home to many festivals that take place all year round. Each state has its own distinct festivals, which mark certain pivotal events. The festivals are all celebrated with much pomp and splendour. Indian festivals include Holi, Onam, Pongal among others.

In Western culture too, people celebrate festivals with much joy. Popular Western festivals include Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, and many more. However, certain festivals are global. Many people across the world celebrate festivals like Christmas ad Eid regardless of their nationality.

Music

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Left Image – Barka Fabianova via Flickr

Music has always been an inherent part of every culture around the world; each country has its distinct musical style, which suits the land and its people. Western music is entirely different from Indian music in several ways. Indian music is composed mainly of Hindustani Classical Music, Carnatic Music, among others. Traditional musical instruments, such as the Tabla, Veena, and Shehnai, are still used to produce soothing and melodious music in India.

In contrast to this, the Western musical scenario is quite different; it includes mainly jazz, rock, heavy metal, and Hip Hop. The opera is another popular attraction. It is a theatrical art form and is prominent for its musical component. 

Dance

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Left: Mohiniyattam. Right: Ballet

India has a number of the art forms spread across the nation. From the mesmerizing Bharatanatyam and the splendid Mohiniyattam to the lively Garba and graceful Manipuri, the country has beautiful and majestic dance forms that are unique to each state.

In Western countries, one can find many different forms of dance as well! Ballet, Waltz, Salsa, Tango, etc. are some of the most popular dance, performed in various settings.

Art

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Left – Jatayu Vadha By Raja Ravi Varma via Wikimedia. Right – Landscape by Vincent Van Gogh via Pixabay

The themes of Indian art are different and varied in contrast to that of the Western art. Indian art mostly comprised elements of religious significance. The paintings also portrayed scenes inspired from the daily life of the artist. The legends of Indian art include, Abindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Varma, M. F. Hussain, Jamini Roy, among others.

Western paintings are quite popular for its unique representation of the human figure and the mesmerizing landscapes. Apart from this, many paintings also portray scenes from the Bible. The legends of western art include, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso and more.

Literature

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Left Rabindranath Tagore – Wikimedia. Right Shakespeare –  Pixabay

Western literature is an apt reflection of the society. Apart from the realistic portrayal of their life, Western literature is quite unique due to its liberal use of a variety of techniques to narrate the story. Chivalry, romance, loyalty, fantasy, and Individualism are some of the key elements of Western literature. The western literary legends include, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and George Bernard Shaw.

Indian literature differs from that of the Western literature in both- themes and style of narration. Indian literature mostly focusses on the realistic portrayal of the issues that are prevalent in the society. Obedience, morality, bravery, and human values are some of the most recurring themes in Indian literature. Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu, and Premchand are some of the most popular literary legends of India.

Traditional Attire

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Image – Pexels

Every state in India has a distinct culture and hence, the dressing styles differ from one region to another. For instance, the attire worn in Rajasthan is widely different from the one worn in the southern state of Kerala. Most of the people in many states prefer the traditional attire that is saree for women and kurt, dothi for men.

People in the Western countries wear clothes which are perceived to be more modern than Indian clothes. But many indigenous communities in the West still take pride in their traditional clothing, which embodies their rich culture and history. But with the advent of globalization, people all over the world are adapting to a universal style of dressing which include jeans, skirts, t-shirts, etc. The younger generation of India is more attracted to the western style of clothing as opposed to traditional wear.

Family Values

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Though most of the modern families in India are mostly nuclear in contemporary times, this was not the case some years ago. Earlier, Indian families were mostly joint families, with every member of the family living under the same roof. The concept of arranged marriages, which is very popular in India, would undoubtedly be unheard of in the western countries.

Food Culture

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The Indian staple mostly comprises of rice, and the cuisine includes a wide variety of side dishes. In India, the North Indian Cuisine varies significantly from that of the South Indian Cuisine. The popular dishes of North Indian cuisine include, Parathas, Pani Puri, Chole Bature, among others. While South Indian cuisine includes dishes such as, Dosa, Sambhar, Payasam, and Sadhya.

In western countries, food habits are quite distinct. The western cuisine is a mixture of various food cultures such as the European cuisine, North American cuisine, Mexican Cuisine, and more, Each of these cuisines are quite different from the other. The most popular dishes of the European cuisine include, the Arancini, Pierogi, and Palatschinken, while the Mexican cuisine is popular for its Tacos and Burritos. The people of the Western countries mostly prefer wheat over rice. Hence it forms a major part of their diet.

The Verdict

In almost every aspect of life, these cultures have their specific perspectives and practices, which suit their land and lifestyle. From the music they listen to, their dressing style, and the food they consume, everything highlights the differences which are prevalent between both the cultures.

Each culture is unique and beautiful in its own way. The Indian Culture vs Western Culture debate may never see its end. But it is up to the individual to choose the right elements from each culture, and incorporate that in their life.

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