Discussing about what is bad and needs cleaning up in our country has become so fashionable and common that sometimes we began to lose that sense of connection and loyalty to our motherland. Of course, the corruption is there, the depressing poverty , the mindless violence and terrorism; Bureaucracy and redtapism make their presence felt very much in our day to day life, but can we deny the credit that India and Indians deserve at its moments of glory or features that make us proud? As a part of our Fried Eye Research team’s endeavors to bring before you the best of everything, we are presenting before you India’s top twenty . Here we have attempted to include only those features or characteristics which are unique and has brought India up in the popularity charts all over the world. In keeping with that criteria in our mind we have foregone such mentions, which though are popular all over the world, were not mentioned as they could not be listed as unique in the truest sense. For example we haven’t included Taj Mahal in our list because though undoubtedly it is beautiful but we cannot call it unique or one of its kind in the world. Colour rules in our list of top twenty and to our delight we found that India has a very colourful and vibrant image to the outside world inspite of our projected image as a third world poverty stricken country
So without much ado we present before you India’s top twenty from Fried Eye not in any particular order
Though we are not following any particular order for our selection but nothing would suit better to begin with keeping in mind the significance of the day. Now we are sure that every body worth their dime is aware of Satya graha or what is best termed in english as Non violent movement or the civil resistance. The term was first coined in South Africa and Mahatma Gandhi described it as – Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance”, in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word “satyagraha” itself or some other equivalent
The movement again inspired other leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King to incorporate it as their ideology for their own causes, bringing a deep respect from all the world over for Indians and the Mahatma. Defending yourself physically from your assailant is brave. Exercising self control, all the while remaining unflinchingly steadfast and not hitting back is greater. But shaming your opponent into subjugation with your strong upright belief in the truth without the use of physical force is almost divine. Satyagraha the ideology is definitely a best of India and we are proud of it.
Nature was probably in one of her generous moods when India was bestowed with the Himalayan ranges as its frontier. Other than the mighty Himalayas standing guard, protecting the country from the cold siberian winds, it’s almost unassailable terrain has protected our civilisations from some ruthless invaders in the likes of Chengiz Khan and his army in the past . It has also provided our country with some beautiful hill stations situated in the Lower and middle Himalayas, which in turn has added some colors to the tourism scene in India. Some of the places are breathtakingly beautiful and has to be there physically to experience the beauty of the place. Some mountains uniformly green withe meadows and pine trees, while a few barren and stark , but equally beautiful in an unique way.
Say ‘India’ and most outsiders will immediately conjure up images of a cinematic world full of glamour, color or brilliance depending upon his/her choice after the recent success of both mainstream and art cinema allover the world. But bollywood isn’t in our list today because of the success , (movies from other regional industries have also tasted success outside India) but it has found its way to our list because of its uniqueness. You may scoff at it, love it, hate it but you can’t deny the fact that there simply is no parallel to Bollywood. Though we cannot compete with Hollywood at special effects or with the poignant and heart touching elements of Korean movies, but no other brand of world cinema can match upto the melodrama of a Sharukh starrer , the colours of a K Johar or David Dhawan movie, song and dance sequences, (the improbable hackneyed themes too), the energy and intensity of a AB starer. If they had a Forest Gump then we have Munna bhai who can make you cry, laugh and move you to tears.India’s image cannot be complete without bollywood at all.
4/India’s obsession with cricket-
Cricket and India’s obsession with its most favored sports is simply unbelievable.Though the performance oscillates between best and worst very often, but cricket still remains the most discussed and beloved sports among Indians Many countries have their rugby, baseball, soccer mania , but what cricket does to India cannot be restricted to a simple term like mania. Its much more than that- much more madness; much more love; much more obsession;much more hysteria and the list continues. A world cup match brings all commercial and official activities to a halt turning cities into ghost town. Office and class attendance dips precipitously as if the whole country has been hit with plague. Sometimes if the places are not deserted then alternate measures are taken as large projectors and TVs being installed in unlikely areas for mass viewing. People fight for cricket, live cricket , eat cricket and are almost ready to kill and die for cricket.
5/Weaves and prints-
By weaves and prints we mean the textile and fabrics from our country which have a distinct Indian touch. The colours, the weaves- silks and handloom products are attractive to say the least. The peacock green, the magentas , maroons, and fuschia pink – will be found only in Indian fabrics. Be it the bandhej and block prints from Gujrat and Rajasthan. The phoolkari, chikan and kantha work! If you go by the weaves and intricacies then the Kanchipurrams from south, the muga and pat silk from Assam, tussar from Bengal, the rich bridal banarsi silk to mention a few! Each of them is a masterpiece to be possessed and treasured. Even the ethnic weaves of the different tribes of India are colourful and unique and a whole piece can be written on the weaves and prints from India. Such is its vastness!
6/Music and Dances both folk and classical-
Music and dance is something that transcends boundary but still we felt that the dance forms of India are worth a mention not because of the intricacy or foot work but rather for the raw earthiness combined with grace, each movement and a glance expressing thousand words and changing emotions , the rhythm continuous and alluring. Same goes for the music except that the words to describe it will be soulful and melodious be it the ragas,or ghazals, the devotional bhajans or even the contemporary filmy music.
Now thats a different one, right? Yes it is! This is one thing that has never failed to intrigue and attract a tourist from outside India whenever they have come upon it. There is a variant of our cycle rickshaw puller over seas in the Orient too, but the green-yellow pointy nosed auto mobile is new thing for them . It created quite a flurry in the media when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie went for a ride in the autorickshaw in mumbai plummeting the auto into a new high of publicity.
8/Food and cuisine-
The food and cuisine of India is another vast topic which has endless possibilities. Each region has its distinctly unique cuisine with its varied flavours and ingredients. Though the west is still stuck on our Chicken tikka masala, but India’s food scene is much more vast and varied than that. If you imagine the whole of Indian food scene, which other than including the regional cuisines also encompasses the street food and the royal preparations, into one compact image, then you will find a riot of irresistible and inviting colors , flavours and aromas in it.
Indian mythology is not as interesting as Greek Mythology but rather it is more interesting then it. No other mythology has such delightful and interesting tales of romance, deceit, heroism , love , sacrifice as in Indian mythology. There is simply no boundaries to the amount of imagination that goes with it both in visual imagery and also the stories. So we have the deities and characters as in Lord Ganesha, Narasimha, Ravana, Ma Durga with the metaphysical images and stories as in the Dasavatar, The tales of Sati and Shiva and many more.
Though it is said that beaches of the Mediterranean, Australia and New Zealand have no parallel to them, but it’s baffling to see how the beaches of Goa (which are supposedly not at par with those) enjoy a huge turnout of both overseas and inshore tourist every year. Maybe it is the hippie culture, the amalgamation of multitude traditions or the vibrancy and energy of the place, but whatever misdeed it is associated with now and then, Goa remains one of the top tourist destination all over the world
Festivals of India is another never ending topic as you will find a vast variety , from the ethnic ones to the national; bizarre( eg Mim Kut, Nag Panchami) to the most colourful(Yes, Holi) ; from romance (Bihu )to violence even (Dusshera);from rejoicing (onam)to mourning (Muharram); from the grandness and extravaganza (as in Durga Puja ) to the austere (Kati bihu)and so on. A year is not enough to enoy every bit of those- Let alone a year, a lifetime isn’t even
enough for it.
The Khajuraho temples supposedly one of the seven wonders of India, is an exceptional addition in our list today. Erotic sculpture is not a rarity in the world, though it may be few and far between because of the complexities and difficulty in creating them. But temples , yes temples, which are held in highest esteem as a place of worship, being the home for erotic sculptures is a rarity. Though Khajuraho and Konarak temple in Orissa both possess the sculptures of couples or mithunas in various positions of lovemaking engraved in their outer walls, it is Khajuraho which has gained notoriety or rather fame for it. The presence of these sculptures in temples has been explained as being symbolic of moksha by some, while others offered other views.
13/Rituals customs and traditions-
Can a country, which boasts of a variety of festivals, a colourful mythology, lag behind in the entertainment quotient in customs and traditions? Unthinkable! The rituals which are basically hindu by rites, are elaborate and extracting at times but each ritual has a deeper, noble meaning to a ceremony or an action. If our wedding ceremony is taken as an example then one will be surprised at the number of rituals and customs one has to follow- Right from the pre nuptial ceremonies to the bridal nights. Though the customs differ from region to region, the basic tenets have been retained , like in the wedding, almost every wedding ceremony has seven vows to be taken keeping the Holy Fire God as a witness. Wedding was just a single example, but there are many rituals and customs for almost every important events of one’s life. You will be interested to note that some regions even celebrate the attaining of puberty of a young girl! Yes, Yeh hai India meri jaan!
We had thought of including costumes of India as our next in the list but though the multitude of drapes and yards of fashion do make us feel proud but what sets the saree apart from all the costumes and dresses of the world is its sensuousness inspite of it being six metres long and the many styles that can be draped in. Available in all fabric types, it’s barely there feeling or appearance is one of the many reasons , why it has caught on the imagination of the people from west. It stretches from neck to toe, yet it manages to show a part of skin;it is draped in pleats and layers yet it brings out the female form as vividly as possible; it promises much but shows nothing, its sensuous but not indecent or vulgar and it is also the most popular and common attire among the Indian ladies.
15/Ancient literature and philosophy-
Ancient literature and philosophy needs no introduction. When we say ancient literature, The Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagawad Gita comes to our mind. The philosophy that is recorded in Manusmriti , one of the ancient written codes of ethics for man, is one of its kind in the likes of Hamurabi’s code of ethics. Bhagawad Gita is revered by almost everyone, through out the world irrespective of religion and stature because of its lofty principles and illuminating contents.
Speaking of saree, reminds us that Indian girls are remarkable enough to be included in our list too. They have been laughed at for their traditional values, been chastised often for being too submissive and mistakenly attributed as weak, but the fact remains that they are one of the emotionally and psychologically strongest females in the world. Years of submissiveness has made them no doubt soft spoken, but come a situation where her family needssupport, you will see her defending them like a tigress. Their traditional values has taught them to respect all beings big and small and also the need for sacrifice and love to sustain and protect one’s loved ones. They are strong, open to progress and can match anyone in capability. The Indian female is the epitome of the perfect woman.That was just the psychology we had analysed, but physically too they exude a warm beauty , a fullness that makes them immensely desirable.
India boasts of some of the most rigorous pilgrimages in whole of the world. The Amarnath Yatra and the Kailash Mansarowar yatra are one of the most arduos journeys in the world that one has to undertake for pilgrimage to the shrines. Each year devotees and pilgrims die due to rigour of the journey to the upper Himalayas in one of the coldest and most inhospitable surroundings. Other than those , there is the trek to Hemkund Sahib up above Joshimath, the pilgrimages to the Badrinath, Kedarnath and Vaishno Devi. In the monsoon month of Sawan, devotees or Kawariyas go to Haridwar from all over India to fetch a pail of Ganga jal following which they have to walk back to their homes irrespective of the distances. Then there is the pilgrmage to the Dargah of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti in Ajmer, Rajasthan which usually falls during the unbearably hot summer months.
18/Art and Handicrafts
Can arts and handicrafts be far behind when we have included food, weaves , customs etc? Arts and crafts another reflection of a society or a country’s artistic progress, tells a lot about the inhabitants of the country. Thank fully India can proudly exhibit its muti arrayed offerings in various streams such as Paintings, Sculpture, terra kota murals, bamboo crafts, brass ware and silver ware, carpets and rugs, marble work etc etc. People come to india from afar just to have a look at the various displays and also posses a piece if possible.
19/Flora and Fauna-
The flora and fauna of our country is something to be proud of. We have some unique species distributed only in in some parts of the country. Like the one horned rhinoceros is found onlyin Assam, India or the lion in Gir forest in Gujarat. Nagaland is home to many species of rare orchids- a thing that people of the world are gradually beginning to acknowledge.
Finally the last but not at all the least that occupies a place of pride in our list is none other than the people of India. By people we have included every aspect or dynamics of the population. The thoughts,achievements, the angst, the joy!We are supposed to be very volatile and volatile we are. More than that we are unpredictable. You cannot generalise us as completely black or white characters. You cannot predict which way the population will sway. If we have seen the worst of them , then we have also heard some stories of unbelievable courage and kindness. This is the country where we have witnessed scenes of auto wallas giving a helping hand to the cart pullers (both strangers) at slopes. This is also the country where they set up community kitchens or langars every other day to feed the poor. Every action has a justification- if they are good, then its because they believe in the goodness of life and if they behave otherwise, then its because they believe that being bad will be a solution to their problems, but as we see it , there is still hope for a better India .
That brings us to the last of Fried Eye’s twenty of India’s best. Which would be your choices? Do you agree with us? Do add your choices if you have some other .
Pics Credit- Sumon Doss, Mr Ashok Singh, Sanzeeta, Manipadma
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