Go To Home Page

Indian Culture

  • 7 Scientific Reasons behind Indian Traditions

    Indians have been known over time to observe many rituals and traditions daily in their household. Some of these traditions are practiced outside India, where Indians reside. It has been discovered that some of these rituals are mentioned in Vedic scriptures and Brahman scriptures.

    We have put together some traditions and the scientific reasons behind them. Below is the list:

    1. Namaste

    Nameste, also known as Namaskar is a way of greeting and showing respect to others by the Hindus. It is done by joining the two palms together in a way that all the fingertips are together which creates pressure on points of the mind, eyes, and ears. It is believed that it helps us remember the person on the other end for a long time and not shaking hands helps prevent transmission of germs.

    namaste-1935938_960_720

    1. Toe ring

    This is popular among married Indian women, and the ring is mostly silver, worn on the second toes. There is a connection between the second toe and the heart through the uterus and it is believed that wearing a silver ring on the second toe helps in the effective management of menstrual cycle in the body of the woman. It also strengthens the uterus by regulating the blood flow to it.

    women-wearing-toe-rings

     

    1. Tilak on the forehead

    There is a spot which is considered as a major nerve point in our body and it is the small spot between the two eyebrows on the forehead. The Tilak is believed to give and retain energy at different degrees. When the Tilak is applied on the forehead between the two eyebrows, the Andaya-chakra is also pressed and this facilitates blood supply to the facial muscles.

    1. Henna

    Henna, also referred to as Mehndi is a medicinal herb which is applied on the feet and hands of Indian brides and grooms on weddings. It is believed to prevent stress, tension, fever, and headache too since weddings include various stressful activities.

    henna-691901_960_720

    1. Piercing the ears

    This tradition is practiced everywhere across the globe but in India, it is believed that piercing the ears boosts the power of decision making, the power of thinking and also increases the intellect. Piercing of the ears prevents contemptuous behaviours by restricting our speech.

    earring-2591496_960_720

    1. Surya Namaskar

    Surya Namaskar is an early morning ritual by the Indians that serves as a way of paying respect to the Sun god, the god of energy. Indians offer prayers to the Sun through the use of water and also offer prayers to the Sun god by looking at the Sun through the water. It is believed that it helps the eyes by improving one's vision and making us appreciate the sunlight more.

    practising-2806844_960_720

    1. CharanSparsh

    Charan Sparsh is also known as touching the feet of our elders. It is believed that there is a connection between two minds and hearts by the flow of cosmic energy in our body. This energy is concentrated at our fingers of both hands and feet. This energy can be transmitted through hugs and handshakes. So when you touch the feet of the elderly, you receive this emission of positive thoughts and energy.

  • SIGNIFICANCE OF DIWALI: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

    Diwali is celebrated by people all over the world belonging to various religions to mark different ancient events and beliefs; however they all represent the victory of good over evil knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness and faith over despair.

    Diwali is an Indian festival which is also known as Deepavali or festival of lights. This festival is actually a series of festivals honouring five ceremonious events. The festival starts with Dhanteras, also known as Dhanvantari Trayodashi. Second day is called Narak Chaturdashi followed by the night of Diwali on Amavasya and Goddesses Lakshmi is worshiped. Forth day, devotees worship Lord Govardhan Parvat. The last day is dedicated to the treasured bond shared between brothers and sisters and is known as BhaiDooj.

    SIGNIFICANCE OF DIWALI THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

    Legend behind these five ceremonies

    DhanTeras – Dhanteras is a festival about celebrating wealth and fortune. This is celebrated two days before Diwali.

    NarakChaturdasi – This festival symbolize the conquering of the demon named Naraka, by the hands of Lord Krishna and his beloved wife Satyabhama.

    Diwali – Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya. Devotees believe that on this day Goddess Laxmi will fulfil all their wishes generously. There is tradition of gambling on Diwali as ancient stories suggests that Goddess Parvati and her husband Lord Shiva had played dice on this day, and she decreed good luck and prosperity for whole year to people who gambled on Diwali night.

    GovardhanPuja – The fourth day of Diwali is dedicated to Lord Govardhan. This day devotees worship of Lord GovardhanParvat. It is also believed that on Amavasya Lord Vishnu, in his dwarf incarnation defeated Bali, a tormenter, and exiled him to hell. Bali was only allowed one day in a year on earth to oust darkness by spreading the light of love and affection. On this day, Bali steps comes back to rule the earth as per the blessing he received from Lord Vishnu.

    indian-sweets-2625911_960_720

    BhaiDooj – BhaiDooj or Yama Dvitiya is a festival of brothers and sisters. On this day, sisters invite their brothers to come to their homes for feast.

    Diwali is a festival of lights, sweets, fun and fireworks, and it celebrates the victory of truth and justice over evil. Diwali is about giving and forgiving, unity, prosperity, self-realization, and getting rid of all evils.

    diya-1782403_960_720

  • Famous Ancient Indian Traditional Art and Paintings

    India is a land of cultural diversity but we can always witness that all these differences only makes it more interesting. Ancient Indian folk art is a tradition in India and it has been practiced through various generations in many parts of the country. With time, art forms tend to adapted modern resources but there are still few unpretentious forms who have survived the test of time. Most of the Indian folk art forms illustrate religious stories about God and Goddesses, and yet they are different from each other. Traditionally natural colours, earth, charcoal and natural resources were used by artists to maintain the natural integrity of the art. Ancient antique paintings are portrayed on the cloth or canvas.  Below is the list of ancient Indian art forms appreciating their uniqueness and magnificence –

    Madhubani Art

    Madhubani art originated in Mithila region of Bihar in India, hence this art is also known as Mithila art. Madhubani art is found in the mural and geometric patterns describing religious folk stories, God, Goddesses, Indian flora, and fauna. In ancient times, this art was used by women to decorate their home walls. Madhubani can be painted using fingers, sticks, brushes, pointed pens and natural colors and dyes. This art is mostly used as a part of the ritual during Indian festivals and happy occasions like birth or marriage, Holi, Kali Puja, Durga Puja.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Gond

    The Gond art form is said to evolve from Madhya Pradesh region in India. It is called Gond based on the name of ‘The Gondi tribe’ who is known as the inventor of Gond art. This type of art also focuses on the mysteries of nature, plants, animals. This is a very lively art form characterized by its upbeat colour schemes and vibrant looks. Natural colours are prepared from soil, charcoal and cow dung and are used to create this art form.

    Miniature Paintings

    Indian Miniatures paintings date back to 17th century and evolved in Western Himalayas. The art items are painted in small size with elaborate expressions and are inspired by Persian art style during Mughal era. The artists used to describe history and war. The main characteristics of a miniature painting are the enlarged eyes, sharp nose, and thin waist with men in turbans.

    Image Credit - wikipedia Image Credit - wikipedia

    Phat Art

    Phat art is a traditional art of Rajasthan with paintings of folk deities of Pabujai and Devnarayan. The painting describes the incidents related to lives of these deities. It is painted on canvas and the paintings are generally large in size. Painters use natural colours and dye to create this magnificent art form.

    Kalamkari

    Kalamkari art is a Hindi translation for ‘creating art with pen’. A kalamkari is an ancient form of hand painting painted on cotton or silk cloth using natural colours and a special type of tamarind pen. This art is popular in Andhra Pradesh in machilipatnam and Srikalahasti. Machilipatnam artists create block paintings and Srikalahasti artists create designs on fabrics using pens. Natural resources are used for preparing colours such as fruits, vegetables, leaves and so on. Most common objects of Kalamkari art are flowers, birds, peacocks and Hindu mythological stories. In this day and age, this art has excelled as a popular art to create Kalamkari sarees.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Tanjore Painting

    Tanjore paintings are a famous art form of South Indian culture and are native to Thanjavur region of Tamil Nadu.  These paintings depict the stories related to God, Goddesses and holy saints of Hindu religion. Vibrant colours, precious stones, and ornaments are used to create these paintings. This art form is the blend of Maratha, Deccan and European panache and it originated in India somewhere in the 16th century.

    Thanjavur Painting Shop For this Thanjavur Painting Lady with Fruit Plate - Click Here

    Cheriyal Scrolls

    Cheriyal Scrolls painting is an ancient art form similar to Nakashi art. In current times, this art is only created in Telangana and Hyderabad states in India. These cheriyal scrolls paintings use local motifs and stories from Indian mythology. These scrolls are more than fifty feet long and painted in panels to narrate the stories from Puranas and Indian epics. Primary colours are used to create the scrolls.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Bhil

    Bhil is a folk art created by one of the main tribes in India known as ‘Bhils’. They live in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra region in India. Bhils are known as successors of Eklavya, the great archer from Mahabharata. Bhil paintings are mostly about nature and tribal lifestyle and are painted using bright natural colours.

    Kalighat Paintings

    Kalighat paintings are used by artists to raise their voice against social conditions and cause awareness. The art form is known to exist since the 19th century and was originated at Kalighat in West Bengal state in India. Initially, this art was focused to tell religious stories but in modern times it is used for social reforms.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Warli

    Warli is another tribal art form from the Gujarat and Maharashtra regions. The Warli tribe used to paint the walls to decorate their homes. This painting uses geometric patterns to describe life in a modest way. The art is created on gerue (red soil) base with bamboo sticks. Rice paste is used to paint the various life events like festivals, dancing, etc.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Saura

    Saura is a traditional tribal painting used by Saura tribe living in Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. These paintings describe the never-ending connection between nature and mankind. Saura paintings use natural colours made from neem leaves, herbs, and flowers. Saura art also uses geometric patterns like Warli however it is much bigger and extended form of painting.

  • Famous Forts of India

    India is a land of rich cultural history and architecture. To experience it one must see the majestic palaces and forts built by royal kingdoms of India. Forts were built to guard off enemies in the past. Whole of India is dotted with breathtaking forts of different sizes and types. Everything in a fort, from window to porch to bastion to courtyard and even the outer wall recounts some historic tale. Constructed with an extreme sense of finesse and ability, one cannot stop falling in love with these outstanding pieces of architecture that India feel so proud of. Here is a list of few popular and marvelous forts of India:

    1. Mehragarh Fort, Jodhpur

    An elevated platform and thick boundaries make the Mehragarh Fort of Jodhpur as one of the largest forts in India. The magnificent fort has 7 huge gates, one of which still has a distinct cannonball imprint that signifies the wars of the past. Inside, lies a big museum which documents the rich history of the rulers of that time which is exhibited mainly in the form of paintings, dresses, ammunition etc.

    Image Credit - wikipedia Image Credit - wikipedia

    1. Red Fort ,Delhi

    Red Fort (or Lal Quila) is an apex of Mughal art and the most popular monument in the capital city of India. It is situated on the banks of river Yamuna and was built by Shahjahan.  Carved with only red sandstones, red fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most well preserved and massive forts of India. The fort reflects Islamic sense of architecture with splendid Persian motifs and carvings.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    1. Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh

    Gwalior fort is known to be ruled by 110 rulers of different dynasties. Gwalior fort is believed to have witnessed some great historical events where Tantya Tope fought with the British army and Rani Lakshmi Bai took her last breath. The dramatic Jain sculptures, ceramic tiles, attractive motifs and intricate lattice work make the Gwalior fort a very unique monument of India.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    1. Amer Fort

    Amer Fort is located in Amer which falls between Delhi and Rajasthan and is therefore known as Gateway to Rajasthan. This huge fort is built on top of Cheel ka Teela (Eagle’s hill) amongst Aravali hill range and is never known to be conquered by any ruler. The major attractions of Amer Fort are Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam, the Summer Residence and Sila Mata Temple. The intricately carved and beautifully painted palaces inside the fort, gardens, rooms and terraces reflect the rich culture of India and artisan’s hard work. Built by Raja Man Singh, Amer fort represents a distinct blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    1. Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

    Golconda was basically a mine from which precious gemstones of the world were believed to be mined. The fort reflects the richest histories and traditions of India. The unique domes, entrances, pillars of fort are surrounded by 10 kilometer long boundary wall. The fort renders an acoustic affect where a clap at the entrance of The Fateh Darwaza can be heard a kilometer away at Bala Hisar pavilion.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    1. Red fort, Agra

    The huge Agra fort was built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 15th century. Agra Fort is spread over an area of about 94 acres and has believed to witness a number of Indian wars and battles. Diwan e khas, diwan e aam, khas mahal, shish mahal, and an octagonal burj are some of the most aesthetically designed complexes inside Red fort. It is believed that Shahjahan died in the marvelous balcony of the octagonal burj only, when he was held captive by his son Aurangzeb.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    1. Chittoragarh fort, Rajasthan

    Chittoragarh fort of Rajasthan is a World Heritage Site and is located 175 kilometers east of Udaipur. The fort has two uniquely designed pillars, the Kirti Stambh and the Vijay Stambh, reflecting the ultimate art and finesse of the artisan. With about twenty pools, nineteen temples and four palaces, Chittoragarh fort leaves you spell bound by its unique architectural beauty.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia
  • Making the Chandi ka Warq (silver leaf) by Beating Silver

    It is believed that the use of gold and silver in Indian delicacies dates back to ancient times. Indian confectionery stores nowadays, are full of sweets garnished generously with thin sheets of some shiny coating. This shiny coating is nothing but “chandi ka warq” or “silver foil or “silver leaf” to render them look more elegant and auspicious. They are also sometimes used to cover idols in temples in our country. The word warq is Arabic in origin and its meaning is leaf. In Sanskrit and Ayurvedic medical literature, varaka or warq word is used to address a cloth, cloak or a thing that covers something. Scientifically, silver acts as a potent anti-bacterial and anti fungal agent and coating food products with silver increases their freshness and shelf life.

    Image Credit - picsart Image Credit - picsart

    Luck now, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh is known for making chandi ka warq. Because of the demand in Mughlai cuisine, Luck now has emerged as a major warq producing center in the country. Apart from covering sweets and desserts, silver leaves are used to cover food items like kebabs, phirni, betels, chavanprash, sewain, cardamoms, spices and dry fruits.

    Image Credit - siasat Image Credit - siasat

    The process of making these intricate silver leaves or chandi ka warq is little difficult and require great skill. Warq is made by constant beating or hammering silver into sheets, which typically are 0.2-0.8 µm thick, laid inside a leather pouch placed over granite stone They are then backed with paper for support which is peeled away before use. Approximately 165 layers of silver strips are placed between layers of leather (usually ox gut) and hammered for more than six to eight hours to produce silver leaves. Silver leaf or chandi ka warq is very fragile and breaks into smaller pieces (due to close inter atomic distance of silver metal), if not handled properly. The craft of making chandi ka warq involves a lot of precision and perfect coordination between hand and eyes during hammering. The art seems to have been passed down the generations. The people involved in this art are known as karigars, who never seem to lose the zest and passion in making these delicate silver leaves, albeit the soaring price of silver. This determination renders the art of making silver leaf so treasured and very much in demand everywhere.

  • 5 PLACE IN INDIA THAT ARE FAMOUS FOR ITS HANDICRAFTS

    Since time immemorial India has been known for its prowess in arts and crafts. In fact, skilled craftsmen were so prevalent that you could find different types of art and crafts across the landscape of the country from glass work in Uttar Pradesh to Thanjavar paintings in Tamil Nadu and fabric work in Gujarat to terracotta work in Assam.

    Even the British did their bit to boost the Indian handicrafts as such items became rage in the wealthy European countries and such things continue on till today. India today holds a profound share of handicraft exports globally which is giving a boost to the local village economy of these areas.

    Here are the top 5 centres of handicrafts in India today:

    Moradabad – Uttar Pradesh

    Moradabad town is approximately a three hour drive from New Delhi and boasts of a booming brass handicrafts economy. Brass is part of the city DNA to such an extent that Moradabad is called the ‘Brass Capital of India’. Majority of the city’s population is directly or indirectly involved in the business of brass hence giving it the name of ‘PitalNagri’ or Brass City. These highly acclaimed brass handicrafts are exported across the world and is considered of very high value.

    Kanchipuram – Tamil Nadu

    This city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu is famous for its staggering and exuberant silk production. This world famous silk from Kanchipuram also called Kanjivaram is celebrated across the world and is well known for among the rich and royalty of the west. Families across the city are involved in the business of silk, a skill that has been passed down from generations. Travellers to Kanchipuram not only get the chance to buy world class silk there but also witness the divine knowledge and history of silk evolution, its production and its export. Being one of the most expensive fabric in the world, the Kanchipuram silk is one of the most sought items because of its enigma and beauty.

    Image Credit - Flickr Image Credit - Flickr

    Dakshinachitra – Tamil Nadu

    Located just on the outskirts of Chennai, this burstling village is the epicentre of woollen industry in South India. A village well known for arts and crafts, it boasts of a grand museum which showcases the collection and handicraft skills of people from this region. Many tourists throng this place throughout the year to witness the museum exhibits and the craftsmen at work making things as unheard in Tamil Nadu as the Tibetan woollen item Pulu. Today, Dakshinchitra has become a booming centre of arts, crafts and the folklore of South India.

    Image Credit - wikimedia.org Image Credit - wikimedia.org

    Kutch – Gujarat

    Located in India’s most western state of Gujarat, the Kutch region shares the border with neighbour Pakistan. From ancient times this region has been the centre of civilizations and has a very rich history. It is this encapsulating history that makes the region truly mesmerizing and worth visiting. As a centre of art and craft, Kutch is famous for its mirror work, embroidery, art paintings, mud paintings, mud sculptures and the weaving industry. Infact the annual Rann festival in Kutch is famous across the globe and attracts attendance from the rich and famous. The biggest celebrities can be seen thronging the region during the festival giving the place a spot in the global culture circuit. Some of the other renowned arts of Kutch include Khareek, Suf, Wood Carvings, Sea Shell Toys, Paako and the famous mud wall paintings.

    Thanjavur – Tamil Nadu

    A one hour drive from Trichy in Tamil Nadu can lead you to Thanjavur. The city is an important centre of South Indian religion, art and architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Great Living Chola Temples are also located in and aroundThanjavur, thus placing the city on the map of every globe trotter in the world. The city also has to its credit the codification of Carnatic Music and has played a major role in the development of Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form from South India. The world famous Thanjavur paintings also get their name from the city and date back to the 1600s. Not only this, the city is also famous for several other types of metal carvings, metal sculptures and designs. The designs are carved out from earth metals such as copper, brass and aluminium. The metal production and skill of the local populace/artists of the city is spellbinding. With such a wide aura of culture and handicrafts, Thanjavur witnesses a lot of Indian and global tourists visiting the city who take part in the frequently organized craft fairs around the city.

    2

    The centres mentioned above are only a small peak from a huge mountain base, every town in India and every village across the country is a centre of art and craft in itself.

  • The Legend of Ranganatha-an Incarnation of Vishnu

    Hindu mythology and religion has many fascinating tales of Gods and their incarnations. Whenever this world is trapped with evil or negative forces, Lord Vishnu is believed to have taken avatars to protect and preserve the world. Lord Vishnu is the main deity in Hindu religion with many avatars and Sri Ranganatha is one amongst them.  There are many temples of Sri Ranganatha in South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Sri Ranganatha is the main deity of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. Made from a combination of 2 words 'Rangam' and 'Nathan', the Tamil meaning of Ranganatha is leader of the place of assembly.

    Shop for this Sri Renganathar - Click Here Shop for this Sri Renganathar - Click Here

    Also known as Aranganathar, Ranga and Thenarangathan, Sri Ranganatha is the main legend inside these south Indian temples. The deity of Sri Ranganatha can be seen placed resting artistically on a serpent as you enter the temple. The serpent God is known as Adiseha. The consorts of Sri Ranganatha are mainly Goddess Laksmi (or Ranganayaki Thayar), Bhudevi and Nila Devi. These deities are seen smiling and are positioned usually reclining. This particular posture is considered very auspicious as the Lord along with his consorts, is believed to be listening to the woes of devotees and blessing them. Although Sri Ranganatha is much famous amongst Hinduism, he is also very popular in Sri Vaishnava community. Due to the vast history associated with Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, it is quite popular amongst the scholars and devotees too.

    Located on the banks of holy river Kaveri, Pancharanga Kshetrams are considered as the five most sacred Ranganatha temples in south India. The first temple from the upstream side of river Kaveri is Srirangapatna (Karnataka), also called the Adi Ranga. Next in sequence are Sarangapani at Kumbakonam, Tanjore, in Tamil Nadu, Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiurppernagar in Tamil Nadu, Parimala Perumal located in Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu and the last one is the Srirangam in Trichy (Tamil Nadu).

    There are many other Ranganatha temples that can be found in different towns and villages of South India. Since the temples are very pious and peaceful, hundreds of devotees and visitors pay honor to Sri Ranganatha and seek his blessings.

  • Craft festivals of India

    From time immemorial, India has been the hub for crafts and art alike. Art work and craft work made in India has adorned the palaces of Indian royalty and their international counterparts in England, Spain, France, Portugal et al.

    Today the government of India, the states and many other organizations have taken it onto themselves to promote this extravagant culture of Art and Craft in India. A very recent example is be the development of Bunkar Marts or Weaver Marts throughout the state of Uttar Pradesh by the state government. Apart from the government backed craft festivals internationally, India is also home to some of the biggest art and craft festivals which see participation from local as well as international craftsmen.

    Here is a glimpse of some of the various festivals where India celebrates its arts and crafts:

    Surajkund Crafts Mela:

    One of the most popular crafts fair in India, SurajkundMela is held at Surajkund, Faridabad in Haryana which is in close proximity to the capital New Delhi. Celebrated in the month of February every year, this fair has been an annual affair since 1978. Set up with an intention of promoting art and craft, the fair sees participation from every state in India and also the neighbouring countries. At the Surajkund Crafts Mela, visitors can find paintings, textiles, wood carvings, bone work, pottery, terracotta, stone work, lacquer work, mirror work, cane and grass work among other specialities. The fair also includes a food festival and folk theatre.

    Image Credit- wikipedia Image Credit- wikipedia

    Kala Ghoda Festival:

    The fairly young Kala Ghoda Festival hasbeen celebrated in the Kala Ghoda area of South Mumbai since 1999. The festival is a must visit for everyone interested in visual arts, handicrafts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature, lectures, seminars and workshops with heritage walks, special events for children, and a street food festival. This nine day festival is held in early February and sees millions of visitors every year.

    Image Credit - en.wikipedia.org Image Credit - en.wikipedia.org

    Toshali Craft Fair:

    The thirteen day long Toshali Crafts Fair is held in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha every year in December and sees participation from the all the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Participants from all SAARC countries and Indian states showcase their best collections here. Artists, painters, weavers, sculptors and craftsmen specializing in any form of art wait for the fair as a perfect platform to exhibit their talents in front of a large audience. From Kanchipuram silk sarees of Tamil Nadu to the Chiki wood craft of Kashmir, everything is on display here apart from the various other events including a workshops on sand art, sculpture making and an amazing food festival.

  • Classical Dance forms of India

    India is a land of different cultures, festivals and rituals and has thousands of years of tradition in classical dance and music. Classical dance comprise of various performances from Hindu epics mostly and is adopted from Sanskrit text Natya Shastra. In past, dance was not only a form of celebration, but also a way to entertain various Gods and Goddesses. Classical dances also represent the culture and heritage of the state to which it belongs. The chorographical patterns and certain dance scenes can be seen on the frescoes of Indian temples. Dance is a great source of motivation as it connects oneself with the higher power and world around. To accrue the changing needs and sensibilities of audiences, Indian classical dance is now acquiring various contemporary styles and themes. Eight popular classical dances of our country are:

    Bharatanatyam

    This is presumably the oldest and most traditional classical dance of Tamil Nadu. The dance got its name from Sage Bharata who wrote the Natya Shastra. Though the style of Bharatanatyam is over two thousand years old, the freshness and richness of its essence is still retained. It has been handed down over ages by nattuvanars (teachers) and traditional dancers known as devadasis who used to dance during important festivals and ceremonies in South Indian temples.The prominent features of this dance are bent legs in a sculpturesque style, abstract hand gestures and graceful facial expression along with music, emotion and poetry. It is also known as the fire dance as the dancing steps resembles a dancing flame. The costume and theme of the dance form a distinguishing aspect of this dance drama.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Kathak

    Kathak (the art of storytelling) is one of the most celebrated classical dances of North India. It is often a dance of love and performed by both men and women.Like other Indian dances it began as a temple dance and moved to the courts of ruling emperors later on.The three main components of Kathak dance are invocation, Nritta and Nritya. The dance starts with slow body movements offering respect to Gods, transcends into a set of stylized gestures and intricate footwork and ends with a story or a spiritual message.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Kathakali

    Kathakali is the most well known dance drama of Kerala. It is a highly charged and influential performance that combines dance, music and dramatizes stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The most distinguishing feature of this impressive form of dance is its cheerful make up and elaborated costume. The dance is performed by men and usually starts in morning and continues through night. Kathakali is more of a devotional act displaying the universal struggle between good and evil. The various elements in the dance include angikaaharya, achika, satvika and nritya. A Kathakali dancer undergoes a hard training to understand and develop the language of hastmudras to convey the story.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Kuchipudi

    Kuchipudi is a popular classical dance of Andhra Pradesh and was held in high esteem and honor before the rulers of the state at that time, presenting different scenes from Indian mythology and Hindu epics The classic element of Kuchipudi repertoire is taranagam, where the dancer use scintillating foot movements to dance on the rising edges of a brass plate. Starting with a formal song, sprinkling of holy water and burning of incense, the attractive gestures of this dance are worth watching. An important aspect of Kuchipudi is the use of speech along with dance, histrionics and mime.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Manipuri
    Manipuri is a major classical dance of India and is native to Manipur, the North eastern state of India. The dance style is very much ritualistic and usually depicts Manipuri culture and tales of Lord Krishna.Unlike other rhythmic classical dances, it is characterized by smooth and graceful body movements. The most attractive part of Manipuri dance is the exquisitely embellished long barrel shaped skirt worn by female dancers.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Mohiniattam
    Mohiniattam is a graceful classical dance that originated in the state of Kerala. Mohiniattam is derived from the word Mohini (means beautiful women) and attam(means dance). Mohiniattam is a mesmerizing dance performance depicting many styles of divine and feminine love through swaying body movements. The white and gold costume, the hairstyle and sophisticated gestures gives an aesthetic dance effect.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Odissi
    Odissi is one of the famous classical dances from the state of Orissa. With a history of more than two thousand years, Odissi is a highly inspired, passionate, ecstatic and sensuous form of dancing style. It is predominantly a dance for women that involves more than fifty complex mudras (symbolic hand gestures) representing great cultural history of Orissa. Like most of the classical dances of India, Odissi too originated from the Devadasi system of dancing.

    Sattriya

    The dance was started by saint and scholar Shankara Deva in Vaishnavai monasteries of Assam that are known as Sattras. Sattriya is an amalgamation of music, beats ballad and drama and is usually performed in monasteries and community halls of Assam .The music is provided by khol drum. Dressed in white costumes and turbans, dancers use a variety of graceful hand gestures and elegant footwork to spread the charm of the performance.

  • Embroidery-The Window to Colorful Indian Culture

    Embroidery is an expression of self, rendered with patience and hard work, it is an art rightly described as "painting by needle". The history of embroidery dates back to 3rd-5th century BC and the period of Warring States of China. Indian Embroidery takes its inspiration from nature and religion. The colors, base, theme and styles reflect the state to which it belongs to. Embroidery is an art of decorating a fabric with threads, wires or sometimes leather using a needle. Embroidery has immense variety with over 100 different types of stitches,that reflects its own individuality and finesse. The basic stitches being stem stitch, chain stitch & cross stitch. Embroidery can be done on net, cotton, leather, velvet. The artistans embed lively expression through exquisite patterns and motifs on the fabric that often whispers tales of love and affection. Embroidery these days is also done by machines, but hand embroidery is more appealing and popular. The most exclusive hand embroidery styles practiced in India are:

    Zardozi

    An embroidery that was once used to embellish royal garments, is an ancient art of sewing gold and silver threads on fabrics such as muslin, velvet or silk. It is called as kamdani when done on delicate fabrics and on heavy fabrics (for example tents, hangings, curtains) it is known as karchobi.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Chikankari

    Chikankari is an intrinsic and delicate art of creating white colored motifs on a white muslin cloth While its central hub and place of origin is Lucknow, the  capital of Uttar Pradesh, Chikan work has now spread far and wide within India. The 400 year old art uses 36 different type of stitches that are often embellished with mirrors, pearls and mukaish. The most striking feature of chikan cloth is that the fabric is extremely leight-weight and does not do not stick to the body allowing the skin to breathe especially during summer season.

    Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Kashmiri Embroidery/Kashidakari

    A state of the art embroidery style, Kashida’s mesmerizing beauty is revealed in its shawls, salwar kameez, sarees and in all types of home furnishing items that come out of Kashmir. The perfect intricate natural patterns are usually inspired by nature. The most popular embroideries types are Aari, Sozni and Tilla done on wool, cotton, silk and pashmina shawls.

    Kantha Embroidery

    Kantha in sanskrit means “rag” which itself reflects the fact that Kantha embroidery is done using old and discarded clothes. Practiced by women of Bengal and Orissa, the fascinating kantha work is the oldest form of embroidery originated in India.

    Chamba Rumal Embroidery of Himachal Pradesh

    Chamba Rumal is a languishing art form in India. The speciality is that the art piece is reversible and finely finished on both sides of the cloth using “Do rukha tanka” technique. The rumals or handkerchiefs, are used as a symbol of goodwill and affection on festive occasions. The are also used as for covering food dishes.

    Phulkari

    Punjab’s Phulkari is an art of carving flower motifs on the reverse of the cloth so that the design takes shape in the front. A contrast of bright colours on a light coloured fabric is what makes this embroidery stand out. Red color is most commonly used.

    Banni Embroidery or Heer Bharat

    Seeking inspiration from architectural designs of Kutch region Banni embroidery is considered to be one of the most distinct and attractive embroidery forms of India. Heer (Silk Floss) is used as thread to create minute and dazzling embroidery patterns.

    Rajasthani Patchwork

    It’s a simple handicraft that involves stitching together small pieces of cloth in a decorative pattern to form the topmost layer of the piece with layers of cloth padding underneath.

    Rabari/Mirror Embroidery

    Originating from Rewar region of Gujarat and Rajasthan this embroidery is a pictographic representation of state’s culture and tradition. A belief or mythology that mirrors protect their children from evil spirits inhabiting their world, the amazing craft from this region uses mirrors and colourful threads to create unique and intriguing patterns on various items like handbags, accessories, home furnishing etc.

    Toda Embroidery

    Toda/Tribal embroidery has its origins from Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu. The embroidery is done between red and black bands of the shawl. Buffalo is used as a popular motif in Toda embroidery along with peacock, sun, moon, stars.

    Kasuthi Embroidery

    Kasuti embroidery also called as Holbein Stitch is a traditional form of folk embroidery practiced in Karnataka. The exquisite geometrical and symmetrical patterns are used to decorate saree borders and churidar neck designs.

    Manipuri Embroidery

    The scenic beauty of Manipur can be seen in its rich and royal handicraft. Akoybi, Tindogbi, Shamilami, Hijay, Leirong and Maibung embroideries style are very popular here. The technique uses one stitch with different patterns like swords, battle scenes, warriors and wild animals. It is on Manipuri handloom products like shawls, bed and table covers.

10 Item(s)