Culture is an integral part of one’s life. Be it Indian or western, culture is something we should all respect as it reflects the daily behavior of a person no matter where they currently dwell. The rich ethnic heritage of India is its pride while the ideologies of the west are more modern when considered in today’s world. The hikes in globalization has made many changes in the lifestyle of people living in India as well as in the west but some practices still remain the popular choices among the people. So, I bring you a list of top 12 of major differences in the Indian culture and the western culture.
You can tell a person’s origin pretty much from their attire. The most common and major difference between both the cultures is the dressing style. In India, traditional sarees are the most famous choice of attire which is worn in different styles. Accessories such as bangles,mangalsutra and bindi on the forehead often accompany the Indian attire. Dhoti kurta, kurta pyjama are the traditional dress for men.
In the West, Suits are preferred by men for formal occasions, while jeans and t-shirts are worn on casual occasions. Gowns, Skirts, Trousers, Jeans, tunics are among the most commonly worn outfits among women.
11. Way of greeting
In India, hands are joined and the body is slightly bowed when welcoming or wishing someone new. Namaskar or the less formal Namaste is used. As-salamu alaykum is also common, which is a way of greeting among Muslims coupled with cupped palms. Also when children greet elders, there is a tradition to touch their feet as a gesture of showing them respect in Hinduism.
In the west, regardless of age, Hello, Hola and Bonjour are used to greet and hands are shook.
India being a hub of diverse people has almost around 1650 mother tongues, though only 150 languages are spoken by a sizable population. The most famous languages are Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi etc.
In the West, different national languages for different nations are spoken by a sizable population. Most of the western countries consider English, French or Spanish as their official language. Latin languages are primarily spoken in the west
Music is the soul of life regardless of culture. Although any music is good music, but the styles of music generally practiced differ from each other.
The most popular music in India is the Carnatic music with notes Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni, which is a pure classical music form and is practiced by most of the professionals from a very young age. Other famous music genres include the Hindustani music, Sufi music, local folk music and of course, the famous Bollywood music.
Western classical is built on the same notes i.e Do Ra Me Fa So La Ti. However, popular taste and genres vary widely, with Jazz, R n B, Rap, Pop, Rock, Country, western folk and metal being in vogue.
08. Dance forms
The most striking part of a culture is different dance forms that the culture holds. Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathakali or Ghoomer are some of the popular dance forms belonging to different states of the peninsula and are danced on classical or folk song.
Dance forms in the west are to more upbeat music like the Salsa, Break dance, Tap dance, Hip-Hop etc but also sometimes depicts despair and sorrow. Dance forms like Ballet tell a complete story with a plot.
Whichever dance form it may be, they never fail to amuse you.
Indian culture is one of the oldest cultures to be introduced to mankind and so are the legends associated with it. Most of the festivals celebrated in India are in a way or other related to gods and their triumphs in mythology. Most religions have their own festivals which often goes beyond just religious observance and turns into a celebration of life itself. The festivals in India are known worldwide (even celebrated by the west these days!). The bright colors of Holi, the sparkling lights of Diwali, savories served on Eid and many more festivals are celebrated with joy.
In the west, however, there are only few highly recognized festivals. The popular festivals are Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and are known to be not as loud as the festivals of India but have special traditions which are followed on that day like eating Turkey on Thanksgiving, dressing up like ghosts and witches on Halloween and wearing green and drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s day!
No one can resist the mouthwatering delicacies offered by both the cultures. Both Indian and Western food have their own fans. However there is stark difference in the food habits.
India- Rice is the staple food almost in all the parts of the country. Paratha in the north, Dosas and idlis in south, biryani, curries, pickles and infinite varieties of sweets like Kheer, Halwa, Rossogollas, Ladoos and Gulab Jamuns are some of the other immensely popular Indian food items.
However, most people prefer wheat over rice in the West. Pizzas, Burgers, Sandwiches, French fries, Croissants, Pasta, Salads, Soups, Lasagnas, Chicken wings, wraps, wine and desserts such as Cakes, Pastries, Puddings, Jellies, Ice cream and many more western food items have made their way to popularity all over the world.
Probably one of the most popular differences, in India, arranged marriages is considered to be a joint venture of not only two souls but of two families on either side of the couple. Popular choice of most of the families, arranged marriages are fixed by the head of the families. Parents take the initiative to find the best bride or groom for their children and prefer the bride/groom to be of same the religion and caste. The marriage rituals also vary with each religion and are given a lot of importance. In the west though, love marriages are the popular choice. Furthermore, many like to have their marriages in different countries and the concept of “renewing the vows” or getting remarried to the same person is quite popular.
04. Joint family Vs. Nuclear family
Indians are known to travel in packs. No matter how annoying they find their uncles and aunts or grandparents, there is a strong bond that they share. The beauty of joint families is their unity and happiness that all the members share. Since importance is given to joint families, many families have shared source of income like a family run business.
In the west however, the visits paid to relatives are very rare and most likely restricted to special occasions. Shared finances among blood relations is rare. But, with modern times, in India too, joint families are converting into nuclear families due to busy schedules, individual lives and of course, financial issues.
This is the part where things get pretty interesting. Not a lot of people in India discuss about this point and the number 1 on my list (yes, sneak in) and especially not in public. Let’s face it. Watching Game of Thrones on HBO is not a big deal in the west. But, in India, kissing still remains a taboo. Yes, censorship is something that brings a huge difference about the thought process of these two cultures. It is not considered to be a good behavior to watch uncensored scenes or to even make shows and movies involving adult content. In addition to this, PDA or Public Display of Affection is something not very popular in India. Kissing, hugging and physical intimacy in public are not considered to be part of the Indian culture. Popular opinion remains that affection should be kept behind closed doors. Many public places have police securities to ensure that couples do not engage in PDA. Many groups of different ideologies also outrage against this behavior as they consider PDA to be against Indian culture.
In the west, censorship is not taken that seriously and PDA is considered normal and no such action is taken. Kissing and display of affection among romantic partners is considered acceptable. Also the concept of shielding a kid from the idea of physical intimacy between people is absent.
The question of morality is ambiguous and so we leave it to our readers to judge which stance is better in this debate.
Indians give high importance to the ideas practiced by their ancestors. Many of these sound very moralistic and hygienic like waking up before the sun rise, cleaning your house every day, worshiping God after bathing and eating only after bathing. Sadly, many more traditions are rooted in orthodox thinking and practicing them indirectly promotes discrimination. Indian culture has promoted heinous crimes like child marriage, untouchability and sati in the past. Many practices till date promote casteism, sexism and are a blight to modern thinking. The image of a woman being just a wife, a mother and a cook has been part of the Indian culture for many centuries but is changing. However, the west is only marginally better in this regard. Western society has its own divisive customs. However, the enforcement on customs is lax.
01. Live in relationships
Indians like to keep things in private. Live in relationships are a big NO in India, socially. As marriage is a very sacred thing, live in relationships are considered to be an insult to the society and to the family. In the west, live in relationships are pretty common. They like to be with people they are comfortable with, without trapping themselves in the big nightmare of social institutions such as marriage. It kind of helps as both the partners live an individual life of their own and can walk away if they are not happy anymore without much hassle and pressure from the outside world.
It is totally up to an individual how they choose to live their life. Be it the Indian culture or the western culture or a fusion of both (which most of us today live like), it is important to know both the cultures and decide for ourselves what to follow. Let me know in the comments below if I may have missed any differences or share your personal experience of CoC (clash of cultures!)