The Fate of Tradition – Indian Culture

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The Indian culture is the greatest thing that can be spoken about by any historian, it is considered so because of the diversity that exists in itself which, till date, is the signature of the so-called Indian legacy. A tradition is meant for generations and is supposed to have the same effect, although it always has an edge towards change, which is mostly dependant on the time. And that is happening to India these days, a renaissance, which may sound more revolutionary and probably act as a pavement towards development but in the process, defines a dreadful phenomenon of loss of traditional values and practices.


Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate”), generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Different definitions of “culture” reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. Most general, the term culture denotes whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings. It includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems, and characteristic behaviours and habits of the selected intelligent entities.

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In particular, it has specific more detailed meanings in different domains of human activities. The word tradition comes from the Latin word traditio which means “to hand down” or “to hand over. ” It is used in a number of ways in the English language: 1 A meme; beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. For example, we can speak of the tradition of sending birth announcements. A set of customs or practices. For example, we can speak of Christmas traditions.

A broad religious movement made up of religious denominations or church bodies that have a common history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, we can speak of Islam’s Sufi tradition or Christianity’s Lutheran tradition. However, on a more basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information. For that, which is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context, is information. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time.

For such acts or practices, once performed, disappear unless they have been transformed into some manner of communicable information.


A very broad classification for the sake of easy understanding and discussion can be as follows: We can put everything into two main categories • Systems and acts • Practices and methods


We can again classify this into the following: 1. traditional values 2. festivals and rituals 3. family system 4. marriage 5. religion and philosophy 6. education 2


We can again classify this into the following:

  1. architecture
  2. sculptures
  3. literature
  4. music
  5. dance
  6. drama and theatre
  7. paintings
  8. dressing and jewelry
  9. handicrafts
  10. sports
  11. food


Values and ethics are once the profile of every Indian individual, and have a deep impact over every upcoming generation. The puranas depict many examples of how people lived. Some very sighting examples are pathivratha, pitruvakyaparipalana which try to define the discipline in a family. Hostility is also another important element in Indian society, athididevobhava which means a guest is equal to God, shows it all.

Gurubrahma guruvishnu gurudevomaheshwaraha gurusakshat parabrahma thasmai sree guruvennamaha – a very known Sanskrit verse which puts the teacher above everything. In the modern world, we rarely find any values and ethics put into actual practice, family is better a battlefield and education is turning business, The student teacher interaction today is only a give take phenomenon. FESTIVALS AND RITUALS Festivals and rituals are followed from our ancestors to establish the society in harmony. Festivals allow a get together which refreshes the 3 relations and allows for better co existence.

The main aim in conducting huge ceremonies and festivals is to get closer to the society in every aspect which is the main motive of every individual. Holi, diwali, pongal, dusserah, ganesh chaturdhi are some of the festivals widely celebrated all over India. There are some places where bullock cart races are held. Festivals these days are getting more pathetic, there are many people dying in processions, chaos establishing everywhere due to caste problems. All those races and bettings which are supposed to bring fun are now becoming political and are raising hatred and enmity among people.

FAMILY SYSTEM Family system in India is one of the most stable elements in the Indian society which is always the symbol for harmony in India. Joint family system always helped in maintaining strong family bonds. Our system always proved to be an inspiration for all foreign cultures. In general, the Indian family is headed by a male and he is the moral head of the house. These days, family sentiments have no place in the society. People started moving places and there started the nuclear family system. In a family, both the partners try to show authority which eventually ends up in divorce.

The once strong family system is now becoming weak and unstable. MARRIAGE Indian marriage system is a strong and stable system which binds both the individuals to each other for life time. Many rituals and ceremonies are performed, the intension of which is to make each individual understand that they need to live together for lifetime with understanding and helping each other. 4 Divorce was never an Indian entity, it ruins the very meaning of marriage, it developed a sort of imbalance in the family system established a delicate relation between husband and wife.

The dowry system and caste feelings are still indenting over the society.


Though 80% of the Indian population is practicing Hinduism, many other religions like Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, all exist in India due to the secularism that we exercise. Indian philosophy and religious system is always an inspiration to the western world. Many foreigners come to India to learn Indian philosophy and adopt the Indian ness. Religion these days is becoming a source of havoc. Inter religion disputes is one of the major issues.

Hindu-Muslim tension is one of the major tensions. Ayodhya case is the best example, also the Bombay chaos. EDUCATION Indian education system in the olden days is a very stable system. We followed a system called the gurukul where the student has to spend years together under the guidance of the teacher and all the lessons are thought in peaceful places or under trees and in huts. The teacher is placed above all, he is praised and respected the most. After all the teaching gets over, the student offers gurudakshin which the teacher accepts with pleasure in which ever form it is offered.

These days education has become a market product, teacher is no longer a holy entity. Teacher- student interaction has become a give take transaction. The virtues are mankind, have greatly disappeared.


Indian architecture is that vast tapestry of production of the Indian Subcontinent that encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, transformed by the forces of history considered unique to the sub-continent, sometimes destroying, but most of the time absorbing new ideas.

The result is an evolving range of architectural production that none the less retains a certain amount of continuity across history. The earliest production in the Indus Valley Civilization was characterized by well planned cities and houses where religion did not seem to play an active role, but which demonstrated world-famous city planning. Indian architecture has influence the world, especially eastern Asia, due to the spread of ideas with Buddhism. A number of Indian architectural features such as the temple mound or stupa, temple spire or sikhara, temple tower or pagoda and temple ate or torana, have become famous symbols of Asian culture, used extensively in East Asia and South East Asia. The central spire is also sometimes called a vimanam. The variant southern temple gate or gopuram is noted for its intricacy and majesty. The arch, a cornerstone of world architecture, was first developed by the Indus Valley civilization and would later be a staple of Indian architecture. The first sculptures in India date back to the Indus Valley civilization, where stone and bronze carvings have been discovered. This is one of the earliest instances of sculpture in the world.

Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism developed further, India produced some of the most intricate bronzes in the world, as well as unrivalled temple carvings. Some huge shrines, such as the one at Ellora were not actually constructed using blocks, but instead carved out of solid rock, making them perhaps the largest and most intricate sculptures in the world. The earliest literary traditions were mostly oral and passed through descendants by the citizens. They were later transcribed. Most of 6 these spring from Hindu tradition and are represented by sacred works such as the Vedas, the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Tamil Sangam literature represents some of India’s oldest secular traditions. Many Buddhist and Jain works are in Prakrit languages like Pali. The classical works of playwright Kalidasa even today exert an important influence on Indian litterateurs. The Tamil Ramayana (translated from the original Valmiki Ramayana) by Kamban is considered to be a classical masterpiece. Kamban and Kalidasa have been rightly given the title of “Kavi Chakravarthi” (King among Poets). The music of India includes multiples varieties of folk, popular, pop, and classical music.

India’s classical music tradition, including Carnatic and Hindustani music, noted for the use of several Raga, has a history spanning millennia and, developed over several eras, remains instrumental to the religious inspiration, cultural expression and pure entertainment. Alongside distinctly sub continental forms there are major similarities with other types of oriental music . Indian genres like filmi and bhangra have become popular throughout the United Kingdom, South and East Asia, and around the world. India offers a number of Classical Indian dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country.

Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. The eight main styles are Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Yakshagana, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Bhangra, Manipuri and Kathakal. Besides, there are several forms of Indian folk dances, and special dances observed in regional festivals. Indian drama and theatre is perhaps as old as its music and dance. Kalidas’ plays like Shakuntala and Meghadoot are some of the oldest plays from literary traditions. The tradition of folk theatre is alive in nearly all the linguistic regions of the country.

In addition, there is a rich tradition of 7 puppet theatre in rural India. Group Theatre is also thriving in the cities, initiated by the likes of Utpal Dutt, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and still maintained by groups like Nandikar and Prithv Theatre. Wall paintings by the women of mithila in bihar adorn the walls of their homes and illustrate their lives. The bold and dramatic fabric paintings of Bengal contain mythological themes while in orissa, themes from the Vedas are painted on a cloth base, treated with earth and tints from stone, and coated with lacquer. Rajasthan is the place for earth colors.

Cloth is painted on scrolls and look like gigantic picture books, which are carried by the bhopas who sing of folk heroes and use the scrolls for visual demonstrations. Jewels are not only adorn and beautify but also offer symbolic protection against evil forces. Colored precious and semi-precious stones have special meanings. Yellow (gold) reflects the rich harvest grain and is the color of Lord Vishnu, red (rubies) is symbolic of love and belongs to the creator of the universe Lord Brahma. White (diamonds) represents purity, knowledge, and truth and is the color of Lord Shiva.

India has got the most varied dressing style along its length and breadth. Saree is the mostly adopted costume while there are many regional outfits which are region specific. Handicrafts and pottery are also predominant in the cottage industry, many artisans are making their life in these fields. Bottle painting, lace work, embroidery and many other handicrafts, including toy making are some of the examples that depict the handicraft culture. Leather, paper, pottery, wood, stone carvings, jewellery, paintings are some of the arts that are a boon to Indian culture.

Indian traditional sports and games are very popular in villages, like gilli danda, kabaddi, bullock cart races, boat races and many more. Boat 8 races are officially conducted in kerala for the annual boat festival. The kite festival is also conducted during pongal. The earliest Indians, the Harappans, probably ate mainly wheat, rice and lentils, and occasionally meats such as pork, lamb, goat and chicken. Some believe that vegetarianism became popular with the arrival of Buddhism and Jainism that emphasised ahimsa (non-violence).

The cuisine of Modern India has great variety and each region has its own distinctive flavours. The staple cereals are rice and wheat. North Indian staple meals consist of chapatis or rotis, wheat based and rice as staples, eaten with a wide variety of side dishes like dals, curries, yogurt, chutney and achars. South India staple dishes consist of rice, sambhar, rasam, yoghurt and curries being important side dishes. THE CHANGING INDIA India has seen many changes in its culture and tradition. The Vedas and epics which once used to be the driving force of the Indian society are now o where in picture. The Indian family system and marriage system have changed dynamically. The British rule over India gave a platform for the dynamic reform of Indian system and culture. The various handicrafts, skills, arts are no where visible due to the advent of industrialization and globalization. What was once the charm of the Indian continent has now gone out of its original form. India always relished the laurels of all foreign nations for providing with ayurveda, yoga, Sanskrit, epics, Vedas, mathematics and a proper base for many surgeries and treatments.

Many foreigners are conducting research to dwell the Indian traditional resources. But we ourselves ignore these facts, we are not using the vast resource which we ourselves have. 9 Every Indian proudly says that India is the greatest country but no one tries to utilize the fact and dwell the real matter out of it and use it for the nation’s well being. We are always proud of our nation’s varied culture and heritage but we never try to keep up to its level. We allow the foreign culture and welcome it openly.

The customs and traditions of family, festivals, marriage are disappearing slowly. What was once the native of our motherland is now the museum exhibit in the western world. Dance, poetry, literature are not given importance today regarding the cultural and traditional aspect. The relics and carvings which have a deep impact on the society are now left to ruins. Drama art has almost lost its glory. Cinema and television has brought such a drastic and devastating change to the Indian tradition and culture. CONCLUSION

Though it is quite evident that India is losing its culture and traditional values at a faster rate, we still have an opportunity to save the heritage of India. And as a matter of fact, we are having measures to save the many relics of the ancient India which represent the glorious past, we should learn from the past, the many values and ethics that guide us in our life. The epics and Vedas play an important role in moulding ourselves into true and complete Indians and the very sense of the Indian civilization can be achieved.

Sanskrit which is the main source of all knowledge in India should also be received by the Indians and should be preserved. All the resources available in our own nation can be utilized to the fullest for the overall development of the nation and the well being of the society. 10 BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Kishore, Prem and A. K. Ganapati. 2004. India An Illustrated History. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. 2. Thapar, Romila. 2005. History and Beyond. Third impression. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

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