Language is an important means of communicating our ideas to others. India is a big country and the people speak many languages. We have eighteen major languages in our country. They are:
1. Assamese 2. Bengali 3. Gujarati 4. Hindi
5. Kannada 6. Kashmiri 7. Konkani 8. Malayalam
9. Manipuri 10. Marathi 11. Nepali 12. Oriya
13. Punjabi 14. Sanskrit 15. Sindhi
16. Tamil 17. Telugu 18. Urdu
All the languages have their own scripts, most of which are written from left to right. Kashmiri, Sindhi and Urdu use the Arabic script and are written from right to left. Hindi is the official language of India, but English is also widely used.
Sanskrit and Tamil are the oldest Indian languages. All our languages have their own songs, poetry, stories and folktales. Generally two or three languages are spoken by the people of each state in our country.
Dance and Music
Dance and music are an important part of our rich culture. There are two major kinds of dance and music in our country – classical and folk. The folk dance and folk music are generally performed by a group of people of a region or community.
Every part of India has its own folk music and dance. Some of the popular folk dances of India are the Bhangra of Punjab, Nati of Himachal Pradesh, Bihu of Assam, Ghoomar of Rajasthan and Garba of Gujarat.
Folk dances and songs are generally accompanied by loud clapping and shouting. Classical music and dance differ greatly from folk music and dance. The classical dances can only be learnt through training and rigorous practice. The well-known classical dances of India are the Bharat Natyam (Tamil Nadu), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh), Odissi (Orissa) and Manipuri (Manipur). Yakshagana (Karnataka) and Kathakali (Kerala) are dance dramas.
India has a long tradition of music. The classical music in our country is of two main styles. These are the Hindustani and the Carnatic, and are based on ragas.
Early man lived in caves. He used to express his feelings by drawing picture of animals and paints on the wall of the caves. Many caves in India have such paintings. The best wall paintings are to be found in the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra. These paintings show the dresses of people in bright colors.
India is a famous all over the world for its wonderful temples and other buildings. The Indus Valley Civilisation is known for its planned cities. The stupas of Sanchi and Sarnath, the Kailash temple in Ellora caves, Meenakshi temple at Maduri, Dilwara temples at Mt.abu, and many more in Khajuraho, Thanjavur, Belur, Konrak , etc., are masterpieces of architecture. The carvings done on marble and sandstone are really wonderful and worth seeing.
The Muslim rulers introduced the Persian style of architecture. They built a number of forts, mosques, tombs and palaces. Many buildings such as Taj Mahal in Agra, Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Jama Masjid, Humayun’s tomb in Delhi and forts of Delhi, Agra, Gwalior and Chittorgarh are great tourist attractions.
The Europeans also enriched our architecture by building offices and churches. Some of the popular buildings are the churches in Goa built by the Portuguese. The Victoria memorial in Kolkata, and the Rashtrapati Bhawan and parliament House in New Delhi were built by the British.
Indians have also contributed to the growth and development of architecture after Independence. They have designed and built the Vidhan Soudha in Bangalore, the Assembly House in Mumbai, the Lotus temple in Delhi, and the corporation offices in New Delhi, etc. a number of multistoreyed buildings for offices, residences and hotels are being built in the big cities of India.
Festivals are celebrated in India almost throughout the year. We celebrate national, religious and seasonal festivals. A festival is an occasion for celebrating some important event connected with our social cultural activity.
We celebrate three National Festivals, the Republic Day on 26th January, the Independence day on 15th August and the Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October every year. How do you celebrate these festivals in your school? The people of India follow different religions. They celebrate their own religious festivals. The important religious festivals are Diwali, Dussehra, Ramanavami, Janamashtami, Shivaratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Id-Ul-Fitr, Id-Ul-Zuha, Muharram, Gurupurabs, Christmas, Good Friday, and many more.
Many festivals are connected with the change of season. Holi and Baisakhi are the main festivals in north India linked with the harvest season. Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Onam in Kerala are the harvest festivals of south India. The parsis celebrate Navroz as their new year’s day. Festivals times are occasions for happiness and enjoyment. Everybody greets his or her friends and relatives.
All these social and cultural activities in our country have made our lives richer and happier. We are lucky to inherit such a rich culture and wonderful traditions from our ancestors. We must work further to enrich our art, culture and tradition.