12 Interesting Facts About Indian Culture You Probably Never Knew
India is a diverse country with a national culture made up of many different ethnic and religious groups. There are tons to learn about the culture of India, but here we’ll break down the 12 most fascinating and weird facts that you probably didn’t know. Check out more interesting cultural facts and information here on Amphy!
1. India Invented the Word ‘Shampoo’
It’s a little-known fact that India was the first to invent and introduce shampoo to the world. The English word “shampoo” is derived from the Hindi-Urdu word “chämpo.” Shampoo back then was nothing like the bottles you may grab from the store today. People made it from a variety of herbs and herbal extracts. Ancient Egypt, the first recorded to use a crude form of shampoo, mixed citrus with water.
The most effective shampoo recorded from that time was made from boiled Sapindus (a type of shrub) and dried gooseberry, combined with a few other herbs depending on the area. The use of Sapindus made it effective. Sapindus is often called “soap berries” because of its cleansing properties.
2. Home to the Most Post Offices in the World
Do you enjoy a run to the post office? India certainly does, as it is currently home to 154,965 post offices. The postal service in India has been running for over 150 years. It is considered the most widely distributed postal network worldwide.
India even has a “floating post office.” The floating post office stands on a houseboat located in Srinagar in beautiful Dal Lake.
India is the birthplace of Yoga, the physical and spiritual discipline focused on bringing harmony to mind and body.
3. Cows Are Considered Sacred
Hinduism was founded in India, so it’s no wonder that about 80% of the country is Hindu. The cow is considered sacred in Hindi culture due to its association with Hindu tradition. Hinduism has many different deities, several of which are associated with cows. The cow is related to Krishna (the cowherd god), Shiva (the bull rider), and Kamadhenu (goddess considered the “mother of all cows.”)
Because cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, many of India’s citizens eat reduced amounts of beef and other cow products such as milk and cheese.
4. There Is a Temple of Rats
The title may sound scary, but the Karni Mata Temple (referred to as the Temple of Rats) is a holy site. It is also home to many rats. The temple exists due to the Hindu legend of Karni Mata. Karni Mata pleaded with Yama (the god of death) to revive his son, who had passed. Yama agreed, but Karni Mata’s son and his other relatives reincarnated as rats.
The temple sits in the town of Deshnoke and the state of Rajasthan. It has become a popular site for tourists and those wishing to pay homage to the legend.
India is also home to thousands of Hindu temples all throughout the country, such as this one called Akshardham just outside of New Delhi.
5. India Has 26 Official Holidays
India knows how to celebrate, with 26 holidays recognized and celebrated by India at the national level. Some of these are religious holidays, while others honor the country itself. India gained independence on August 15, 1947, so the date is celebrated each year as Independence Day.
In Indian culture and tradition, Holi is the “festival of color.” This festival is a Hindu tradition where people throw brightly colored powder to celebrate unity and the triumph of good over evil. Many other holidays have become national celebrations for the country.
6. India Holds a Festival That Is Visible From Space
Kumbh Mela is a national festival held about once every 12 years. The festival is a pilgrimage taking place over four river-bank sites: the Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain. At each location, participants take a ritual dip in the waters. In Indian culture, people believe that
the religious ritual of taking a swim will “wash their sins away.”
The festival itself is massive, with some years seeing as many as 100 million participants making the pilgrimage. Satellites in space captured the festival.
7. The Hindu Calendar Recognizes 6 Seasons
Unlike most calendars which recognize four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), the Hindu calendar has six seasons. The spring season is called Vasant Ritu. The summer season is called Grishma Ritu, and the monsoon is Varsha Ritu. Then there is autumn, which is Sharad Ritu, and pre-winter, which is called Hermant Ritu. Winter is known as Shita Ritu or Shishir.
8. The National Beverage of India Is Tea
Tea is so beloved in India that it’s often considered the first beverage many people consider, even before water. India is nearly unmatched in tea production, single-handedly providing the world with around 30% of its tea. India is the second-largest tea producer in the world. Much of the tea produced is consumed within the country.
9. India Was the First to Mine Diamonds
During ancient times, India was the only place one could find diamonds. India was the first and only country to find and mine diamonds until the 1720s when Brazil discovered diamonds. Since the 1900s, diamond mining in India died down as other countries hit upon rich veins of diamonds. India still has existing industrial mines that make up a small part of the worldwide diamond industry.
10. India Invented Yoga
India is the birthplace of Yoga, the physical and spiritual discipline focused on bringing harmony to mind and body. Today, many people view yoga as purely physical exercise, but its origins are much more spiritual. It was considered a discipline that encompassed mind, body, culture, and religion. Traditional yoga focuses on meditation and the release of earthly attachments.
Check out this Yoga class trailer for inspiration. Yoga is for everyone, even you.
11. All Major Religions Are Present in India
India is a very diverse country. Although Hinduism makes up the majority of religious presence, every other major religion is represented. These religions include Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism.
12. The ABCs Are India’s Most Popular Entertainment
India’s most popular entertainment is crucial to its culture and is pretty different from the fare of other countries. India’s entertainment is sometimes cited as the “ABCs:” Astrology, Bollywood, and Cricket. Astrology is a beloved hobby of many in the country.
Based on your sign, you will find horoscopes in newspapers, posters, and even restaurant menus suggesting what you might enjoy. Bollywood is the popular film industry in India, known for lavish musical numbers, joyful dancing, and beautiful colors. Cricket is the most popular sport in India and is as ubiquitous as soccer in Europe (also known as football) or football in America.
If you plan to visit India soon, you will likely experience culture shock. It could be different from what you are familiar with. But that is the charm of traveling! It would be best if you considered a few factors before traveling to India, such as learning Hindi, and Indian culture. As long as you know the culture and some helpful phrases, you won’t make any touristy mistakes abroad.