India: Myths or Facts
Indians ride elephants and live in jungles. They don’t know how to read and are poor. Animals are roaming all over the place, they speak India, they don’t eat beef and they are very traditional. Are these all myths or facts? This is what I’ll try to answer.
India is a diverse country with many subcultures, many different life styles and many different people. When India got its Independence on Aug 15, 1947, a Catholic woman left the PM Chair for a Sikh who was sworn in by a Muslim President. India has the highest majority of Hindus (80%) with minorities consisting of Buddhist, Jain, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Jewish faiths. But the beauty remains in the fact that despite all the differences, the people of the nation are quite the mirror image of a country that speaks one language, has one faith or one creed. How else would you explain that they all co-exist, overcoming barriers such as region, religion, caste, creed and culture?
One unique aspect of India is the fact that there are 15 National languages spoken. India has two official languages: Hindi and English. The other 13 languages are:
· Punjabi (spoken in central India)
· Sanskrit (ancient language found in scriptures)
· Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya (languages spoken in southern India)
· Bengali (spoken in Bagladesh)
· Marathi (spoken in Maharastra)
· Urdu (spoken in areas with high Muslim population)
· Gujrati (spoken in Gujrat)
· Arabic and Assamese (spoken in northern India).
It makes you wonder, with so many different languages and so many different cultures, it must be difficult to co-exist. No, because of similar traditions. Hence, the question, are Indians traditional? To most part yes. There are many rituals and traditions within the Indian culture that is followed through generation to generation. Many rural communities still follow arranged marriages and most young adults are open to that concept. Everything Indians do has some religious, cultural or traditional reason behind it. You could however slowly see a change in today’s generation, but it is still very minimal.
One minimal change is being vegetarian. There is no doubt that you can still find complete vegetarian dishes in India that are very difficult to find in other countries. There are still some individuals from Brahmin and Jain faiths that are extremely vegetarian. However, majority of the population is now non-vegetarian. There are people from coastal cities and towns (i.e. Chennai) whose income and daily meals are dependent on fishery. But most Indians will eat meat maybe once or twice a week rather than every day.
In same context, if you believe in certain Gods or certain rituals, you don’t eat beef. Otherwise, it is available in India as well. Chennai is one city you’ll find beef commonly sold. However, those who believe in Lord Krishna usually don’t eat beef. Lord Krishna was a cow herder and He referred to a cow as a mother.
India has a population of over 900,000,000 million people on a land as large as Europe. There are 27.5% people living in urban areas while 72.5% cover rural areas. That is about 267 people per square km (or in 3280.8 ft area). We in Canada have issues with literacy, disease and homeless with the 33 million people, then imagine India. The facts: the literacy rate in India is 52%. We have the third largest pool in India of doctors, lawyers and engineers. The beggars and homeless people are more visible all over India simply because not just downtown, but it is as busy life everywhere. You do have the malls, big buildings, proper offices all over the big cities where there are the middle class and the rich residing.
If population were an issue with homes and economic lifestyles to provide, then animals are also a daily occurrence. Indians are taught from religious scriptures that all animals have some meaning. For example, there is a temple in Southern India where you’ll find rats roaming freely. Cows usually stop traffic in all cities. Most Brahmin priests in north western parts of India will ride on elephants. In northern cities like Shimla, monkeys are also freely roaming around. The difference here is that the animals are accepted and the animals are used to the people. It’s the Indian lifestyle.
Now that you’ve heard some of the facts, I leave it to you to determine whether any of the earlier questions are complete myths or complete facts. This page might have brought about more questions which I hope you will search answers to.
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