Culture 4 – Indian greetings and festivals


Main article: Namaste

Pressing hands together with a smile to greet Namaste – a common cultural practice in India.

Namaste (Hindi), Juhar/Namaskar in Oriya,Namaskar, Swagatam (Marathi) or Namaskara(Kannada) or Namaskaram (Telugu,Malayalam), Vanakkam (Tamil),Nomoshkaar(Bengali), Nomoskar (Assamese) is a common spoken greeting or salutation when people meet or a form of farewell when they depart. Namaskar is considered a slightly more formal version than Namaste but both express deep respect. It is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands folded gesture may be made wordlessly, or said without the folded hand gesture. The word is derived from Sanskrit (namah): tobow, reverential salutation, and respect, and (te): “to you”. Taken literally, it means “I bow to you”.[46] In Hinduism it means “I bow to the divine in you.”[47][48] In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek the blessing of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders. This custom is known as Pranāma.

Other greetings include “Jai Jagannath” inOriya Language, “Ami Aschi” (in Bengali),“Jai Shri Krishna” (in Gujarati), “Ram Ram”, and Sat Shri Akal (Punjabi, used by followers ofSikhism), Jai Jinendra, a common greeting used across the Jain community, “Jai Bhim” used by Buddhist Converts in Maharashtraafter B. R. Ambedkar and “Nama Shivaya”, “Jai ambe”, “Jai Sri Ram” etc.

These traditional forms of greeting may be absent in the world of business and in India’s urban environment. The handshake is another common form of greeting.[49]




With India’s cultural diversity, the country has more festivals than there are days in a year. With little lamps and lot of care, Karthigai festival celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers in south India. In other parts of India, Bhaiya-Dhuj and Raakhiis celebrated. Sisters wish their brothers happiness and feed them sweets, while brothers give gifts and promise to protect their sisters.

Above children enjoying Holi, the “festival of colours”. It is a major Indian festival celebrated every spring. In autumn, one of the major festivals is Diwali, the festival of lights.

tug of war, at Pushkar Fair inRajasthan.

Main article: Festivals in India

India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. The threenational holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti, are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many Indian statesand regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of NavratriDiwali,Maha ShivratriGanesh ChaturthiDurga puja,HoliRatha-YatraUgadiRakshabandhan, andDussehra. Several harvest festivals such asSankranthiPongal and Raja sankaranti swinging festival “Nuakhai” are also fairly popular.

Indian New year festival are celebrated in different part of India with unique style in different times. UgadiBihuGudhi Padwa,PuthanduVishu and Vishuva Sankranti are the New years festival of different part of India.

Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and Buddh Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists. Sikh Festivals, such as Guru Nanak JayantiBaisakhi are celebrated with full fanfare by Sikhs and Hindu. Adding colours to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of India.

Islam in India is the second largest religion with over 135 million Muslims-(followers of Islam), The Islamic festivals which are observed and are declared public holiday in India are; Eid ul FitrEid ul Adha-(Bakr Eid),Milad un NabiMuharram and Shab-e-Barat.[50] Some of the Indian states have declared regional holiday’s for the particular regional popular festivals; such as Arba’een,Jumu’ah-tul-Wida and Shab-e-Qadar.

Christianity is India’s third largest religion. With over 23 million Christians, of which 17 million are Roman Catholics, India is home to many Christian festivals. The country celebrates Christmas and Good Friday as public holidays.[50]

Regional fairs are also common and festive in India. For example, Pushkar fair is one of the world’s largest markets and Sonepur mela is the largest livestock fair in Asia.[51]

Please see next episode Culture 5 for more information about Indian culture.

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