Indian Culture Before Your Trip: Food for Thought

When it comes to culture, few countries can claim a more storied history or a more diverse present than India. Though it’s unlikely that you’d try to learn a new language or make a religious pilgrimage on your trip to India, there are still many aspects of this magnificent country’s culture in which you can partake during your journey. From festivals to cuisine to the performing arts, here is some information regarding Indian culture that may help you to make plans for your trip:

1. Festivals

Though the majority of India’s biggest festivals are religious in nature, respectful foreigners are always welcomed with open arms.  Perhaps the grandest festival of them all is Diwali—India’s festival of lights.  Depending on the year, Diwali occurs either in October or November.  Nearly every town celebrates with fireworks and by lighting itself up for five nights straight, while many also have their own unique traditions associated with the festival. If you can’t make it for Diwali, there are many different festivals all year round—just do your research before you head out!

2. Indian Cuisine

A quick disclaimer: there really is no “Indian” cuisine—every region and state has its own unique culinary history. That being said, there are some commonalities throughout the country.  Due in large part to Hindu and Buddhist religious influences, most Indian cuisine is vegetarian—with beef being the rarest meat of all.  Of course, the very popular curry dish is found throughout India, containing complex blends of herbs and spices that vary greatly by style and region.  If you’re in the mood for street food, try Kati—a sort of wrapped sandwich containing vegetable, egg, and kebab.  When it’s time for dessert, make sure to try gulab jaamun—balls of dried milk cooked in a sugary syrup that are sure to blow your taste buds away.

3. Performing Arts

India’s artistic traditions are of course widely varied as well.  Perhaps at the forefront of the Indian performing arts is dance, whose roots on the subcontinent go back millennia.  Classical dance forms include Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Odissi, while folk dancing spans a wide number of traditions as well.  Traditional Indian music is just as expansive and goes way beyond the sitar popularized in the West by hippies during the 1960s.  You owe it to yourself to check out a live arts performance during your trip to India at least once!

Before You Go… up our India map. This GPS map will give you turn by turn directions to your destination using a point of interest (POI), city point, and/or latitude and longitude, with the ability to preplan driving destinations before getting into your car. The easy to follow instructions allow you to download and install the map into Garmin BaseCamp desktop software and transfer it to your Garmin GPS in minutes. This installable map is compatible with ALL Garmin GPS units .

It’s like having your own personal travel guide with you on your trip!

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