Traditional India Culture Defines Families



Traditional India culture defines the people of India. Many rituals, practices and beliefs of Indian culture are derived directly from the rituals, practices and beliefs of its ancient culture.

For example, marriage is a huge deal anywhere, but traditional Indian wedding ceremonies usually last for three or more days in India and arranged marriages were an important part of traditional Indian culture for centuries. What is an arranged marriage you ask?

An arranged marriage is one where parents of a young man or woman collaborate with the parents of another young man or woman and decide their children should marry. A marriage would occur when one family determined the other was of equal or greater social status. This once very popular custom carried on for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Typically, the way that an Indian engagement works is the mother and father of the daughter will offer a coconut and money (optional) to the future husband as a show of acceptance and good faith; at this point the children are now engaged. Funny story; my wife's parents gave me a coconut and money when they first met me, but my wife and I had no idea what it meant to be given these things. In result, I later intended to propose to my wife and asked her father for permission. He probably thought it was silly for me to ask because permission was already granted.

Even the ceremonies that lead up to an Indian wedding in traditional India culture can be as big as an entire western wedding! Ceremonies like Garba are common before weddings. Garba is a celebration of dance that typically includes live music, food and a special type of dance performed with decorative sticks. The Garba for our wedding had roughly 300 participants, fireworks, live music, food and dancing.

As mentioned earlier, arranged marriages were once the way things were done, but things have changed in India cultue today! For example, my wife and I met each other while attending college in the United States.

The Indian family culture is traditionally based on a patriarchal structure. The oldest man in the home, or family system, is looked to for advice and guidance and also receives the greatest amount of respect. The women traditionally play the role of preparing meals and raising the children, but nowadays women commonly have jobs and earn money too.

In India, the sons typically wed and start their new family in their parents home. The daughters leave their parents home to live with their new husband's family. In some cases, women move from India to the United States and may see family members very rarely, if ever again.

In traditional India culture, when a son's father and mother enter retirement, he is to allow them to live with him and to take care of them. Traditionally, parents transfer their real estate property to their sons after they retire and this is where they all live. So basically, the financial burden changes hands.

The family dynamic also changes because the sons now have families of their own; so, it's a full house! One generation dies and another is born which follows the Dharmic cycle of life, which is prevalent in Hindu belief.

Things can be a bit different for Indian family members living in the United States. My wife's grandparents, for example, have two sons that live in different parts of the country. Her grandparents float between their children's homes equally throughout the year. My wife's grandparents spend half the year at one son's home, and the other half year at their other son's home.

Obviously, different individual circumstances will alter the aspects of traditional India culture that each family practices, but the concept of strong family adhesion and Dharma should be constant.

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