That’s how you’ll be greeted at most places in India. This traditional Indian greeting is accompanied with a slight bow and folded palms that are placed in front of one’s chest. This popular custom is not a mere gesture, it literally translates to “I bow to the divine in you” and reflects India’s rich culture, which has its roots in the Ancient Indian scriptures and texts. Below is a list of a few unique Indian traditions.
1. Tradition of Vedic Chanting
Vedic chanting is the traditional way of reciting the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. There are four chief Vedas- namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, which are considered primary source of knowledge on Hindu philosophy and traditions. Written in Vedic Sanskrit, the scriptures comprise of poetry, philosophical dialogue, myth, and ritual incantations. The Vedas were composed by Aryans around 3,500 years back and they have always been transmitted orally from one generation to the other. It embodies one of the world’s oldest surviving cultural traditions, while only 13 recitation branches out of the thousand branches have been able to survive. The value of this tradition lies in the rich Vedic literature and complex recitation techniques that are based on tonal accents and specific speech combinations.
Ramlila translates to “Rama’s play” and is performed across northern India during Dussehra (October-November). This theatrical presentation celebrates the life of Rama, his strengths and struggles. The dramatic performances involve a combination of songs, narration, dance and dialogue to recount episodes from the Ramcharitramanas composed by Tulsidas. It spreads the message of “good over evil” along with teaching the philosophy of life to the audience. It is staged in all towns and villages of north India but if you are travelling to India during that time of the year, you can watch the best Ramlilas in Ayodhya, Ramnagar, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Almora, Sattna and Madhubani.
The ancient Indian practice for health and wellness, Yoga, is scientific and it emphasizes unifying the mind with the body and soul to promote mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Yoga disciplines your mind, breath and body through a series of poses, sequences, guided meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques. It aids in self-realization, eases bodily suffering, promotes relaxation making you calmer and happier. The International Yoga Festival held in Rishikesh is a celebration of the ancient tradition of Yoga to promote good health, wellbeing and a divine lifestyle. Other than attending the festival you can choose to rejuvenate at the several wellness retreats across the country.
4. Kumbh Mela
The holy Kumbh Mela is an event that captures the science of astronomy, astrology, spirituality, liberation, ritualistic traditions, knowledge, faith, cultural customs and social practices. Every three years the festival is organized at one of the four locations—Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik or Ujjain. The Ardh Kumbh is celebrated every 6 years while the Purna Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years. The most massive celebration happens during Maha Kumbh at Prayag after every 144 years. Popularized as the “world’s most massive act of faith” the festival is attended by millions of people irrespective of caste, creed or gender. The largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims takes bath in the holy waters of River Ganga (Haridwar), Triveni Sangam (Prayag), River Godavari (Nashik) and River Kshipra (Ujjain). The holy dip helps you get rid of past sins (karma), thereby making you eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
India is bound to amaze you with its rich cultural heritage, umpteen varieties of food and a hoard of must-visit places. If you decide to visit, you can be sure of an enriching trip to the subcontinent that will leave you with fond memories for a lifetime.
Take out time from your busy schedule to explore and experience Incredible India.
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Akancha Tripathi is a Western Union guest blogger and content writer passionate about writing on technology, marketing, health, food, lifestyle, travel, environment and sustainability matters.@AkanchaTripathi