Rabindranath Tagore once said “If God had so wished, he could have made all the Indians speak one language, the unity of India has been and shall always be a unity in diversity.”
We live in a country where diversity is a way of life, where accepting each other and respecting each other is part of our life. India represent an endless variety of geographical features, physical features, and cultural patterns. Our diversity varies from the Himalayan range to the Indian Ocean, crossing countless rivers, plateaus, and even deserts. Latitudinal difference of even the slightest degree can throw up different physical features and families having different cultural backgrounds. Cultures strikingly different from each other peacefully co-exist in India, prompting us to believe in India’s “Unity in Diversity”. India’s languages, cuisines, architectural vibrance, traditional costumes, occupations, music genres, crafts, religions, performing arts, customs and rituals constitute its diversity. This country has faced many invasions over centuries but in spite of inflicting great pain and loss of lives, they were metamorphosed into elements that contributed to the country’s diversity and harmony. Accepting the other is a deep-rooted trait in Indians, one that helped them accept and internalise external influences to create positivity in our collective thought, action and way of life.
Expressing feelings in words is the most comprehensible form of communication. Therefore, language is the most important part in communication. In this context, India has 122 major languages and over 1,500 other ones. Two major language families spoken in India are Indo-Aryan and Dravidian.
Food has always played an important role in the lives of Indians. Culinary diversity is one of India’s greatest treasures. Indian curries and spicy sauces are famous around the world and communities across the globe appreciate the richness of Indian spices.
India is a secular country with all major religions of the world. The main religion in India is Hinduism, followed by Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Bahaism are also there with a lesser number of followers. No matter which religion it is, the message of love and universal brotherhood is inherent in every religion, region and culture of India.
Rituals, festivals and customs
Mark Twain said, “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition.”
India is like an ocean that accepts diverse rivers of customs and rituals and still maintains harmony. Rituals, traditions and customs not only vary from religion to religion but also from family to family. Wedding rituals, birth rituals, death rituals are very dintinct in almost every home in every region, in every caste and religion.
India celebrates a festival almost every month. Being a multicultural country for ages, India celebrates all festivals together. It is not that every Indian celebrates all the festivals but everyone does respect them all. Be it Diwali or Eid, Christmas or Pateti, India celebrate festivals of every community and religion. No matter what religion one may belong to, the core values of staying honest, being a good neighbor, cherishing each other’s diversity, and being thankful to God for life remain the same.
Arts, Music and Craft
Music, art and craft are an integral part of life in India. The inner world of an artist — the world of faith and belief — finds expression in both classical as and folk art forms. India has a rich heritage of theatre, dance, music and traditional skills like pottery, stitching and painting. Using the body as a medium of communication is perhaps the most intricate form of art. Music plays an important role too. Traditional music of India is often taken from the lifestyle of the communities. India is also rich in painting, stitching and weaving. Most paintings, stitches and weaves depict the way of life of a period or the people’s grievances.
In such a unique backdrop, it is only wise to steer clear of all divisive forces that seek to demolish this mosaic of integrity and harmony that is built on the foundations of accepting diversity with love, care, sharing, and understanding.
We urge you all to share your views and stories as part of our journey to further strengthen our ties with our neighbors who are different from us in several ways but are on the same page with us when it comes to our identity as rationale, peace-loving, humane people!