Artistic beauty lies around almost every corner, whether it’s the brightly painted trucks plying dusty rural roads or the exquisite body art of mendhi (henna). Indeed, a highlight of sub-continental travel is its rich art legacy, from ancient temple architecture to a dynamic performing-arts scene.
Creative knowledge regarding local arts and crafts is taught to the younger generations, and many are skilled in artistic pursuits such as dried flower decoration and painting special designs and patterns on the houses, which is called Alpana and Rangoli.
Architectural details on the houses are beautifully carved into the wooden doors and window shutters, which are opened daily. The decorations and carvings on the houses sometimes signify aspects of daily life, such as gods and goddesses, wildlife and the natural environment.
Commonly worn by married Indian women, the sari comes in a single piece (between 5-9m long and 1m wide) and is ingeniously tucked into place without the need for pins or buttons. Worn with the sari is the choli (tight-fitting blouse) and a drawstring petticoat. The palloo is that part of the sari draped over the shoulder. Also widely worn by women is the salwar kameez, a traditional dresslike tunic and trouser combination accompanied by a dupatta (long scarf). Women also wear many different types of Jewelry, made from Gold and Silver, such as nose and ear studs/rings, necklaces, toe rings, anklets, and many colourful bangles on their wrists, often indicating their marital status.
Traditional attire for men, though not as commonly worn as the sari and salwar kameez by women, includes the dhoti, a loose garment pulled up between the legs like a long loincloth.
82% of Indians are Hindu. To be a Hindu is to be born a Hindu, and then to follow a certain way of life. The word “Hindu” comes from “Hind”, the old Persian word for India, and Hinduism simply means the religion of the peoples of India. With no founder and no creed, it has evolved over time. As we know it today, it can be compared to a great, deep river into which, over a period of more than 3000 years, many streams have flowed. The streams are the beliefs and practices of the numerous races, ethnic groups, and cultures of the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism has many gods, yet, for some Hindus, there is an impersonal “Absolute” behind them all, called Brahman, creator of the universe. Brahman “unfolds” into Trimurti, the holy trinity made up of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva the destroyer but also re-creator. Hindus everywhere believe in reincarnation, the individual soul born again in another body. Life flows on through death to rebirth. If people are good in one life, they will be rewarded by being well born in their next life. A very bad life on the other hand can lead to reincarnation in animal form. Eventually the circle of rebirth is escaped and the soul joins the world, free from physical restraint.
Hinduism is more a way of life than a set of beliefs.
(Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Former President of India)
ROSE volunteers learn about these religious aspects of community life. There are different religious events, some held in the temples and others in people’s homes. Events of religious significance include celebrations of various Hindu deities such as the celebration of Ramayana, Bhagwatgita, and Shivachana (worship of lord Shiva), the religious speeches of the priest and the nine days of Nawabriti (where there is worship everyday). These rituals give meaning to peoples lives and serve as entertainment. During their stay, visitors may observe various religious customs and traditions, such as marriage ceremonies, the naming ceremony of a baby, and Rakhi, the ceremony of sacred thread. Rakhi is an important ceremony where siblings tie thread around each other’s wrists, and by doing so, sisters are assured of their brother’s support and protection. There are many small and extraordinary religious events, including Jagar, the singing of Kumoani folk songs, and the classical dance Chaachari, to name but a few.