Culture refers to a global experience that is vital in the lives of people. A proper understanding of culture should entail knowledge of its exceptional patterns and qualities as a variety of human experience, and the comparisons and variations amongst human cultures. It is important to learn about a different culture because this helps one to know how to deal with individuals from that culture. Globally, there are a number of stereotypes that prevail against Indians. For instance, it is believed that Indians have several gods, on whom they rely for provision in different aspects of life. Another type of assumption against Indians is that their nuclear families are very large and they stay comfortably regardless of being poor. Other individuals also assume that Indians have a very stern caste system that serves as a challenge for individuals to interact effectively. These negative perceptions have made individuals not to develop productive interrelationships.
An individual can only freely interact with individuals if he/she gets time to understand their culture. They only way through which individual can recognize other people cultures and interact properly are through communication. It is also not easy to communicate with individuals from varied cultures because of non-verbal and spoken obstacles that hinder them from learning why individuals behave in a specific manner. This clearly explains why studying the Indian culture is a research subject. The major reason why I decided to write about Indians is that there are quite a number of Indians putting up in Saudi Arabia and I intend to work with them when I graduate from college.
This paper will analyze literary review that will provide a description on the significant aspects and information with regard to the Indian culture. It will also provide a description of a visit to the Sikh of Minnesota, which comprises of individuals of Indian origin. I will also carry out an assessment of three interviews conducted with Indian students in America. This research will enable me to have a good interrelationship with Indians both at social and professional level without have any stereotype.
The population of India is approximately 1.27 billion people. It is this high population that has made individuals to have a perception that India is the largest nation across the globe (India Population, 2013). Information on various sources of media and other information on increased population in India have made the majority of the individuals assume that Indians make up the highest population in all parts of the globe. Studies indicate that 17% of the entire populations are Indians (India Population, 2013). This has resulted in an assumption that the population growth rate is very high; therefore, they are most likely to take over the opportunities of the individuals whose communities they put up. This has been the origin of problems in most nations whereby individuals have a feeling that Indians are exhausting resources that would have been used by people from their community.
The country comprises of 6 ethnic communities and all these communities have varied practices, physical appearance, and cultures. The ethnic communities include Negritos, Nordics, Mongoloids, Dravidians, and Western Bracycephals (Bindloss, Elliott, & James, 2009). All these communities have native languages that they use to communicate while in their locality. Conversely, the national language in India is Hindi in Devanagari script. They also use English because India was colonized by English. The combination of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds in India makes it a culturally rich country. Religion is a significant part of these cultures and Hinduism is the most common religion in India. The majority of the individuals believe that they are the different tribes in India that have resulted in the development of numerous Gods who serve varied reasons. Nevertheless, this is a wrong perception based on the fact that Hindus serve Brahman who has several varied manifestations (Gupte, np, 2000-2009).
The Indian family is considered to be collectivist because it is made up of the whole extended family. They usually put up in similar quarters as members of one family. In most cases, various families share utilities and a home because they value the relationships that they have within their families. An outsider may consider this as a way of sharing resources with the key objective of preventing poverty among members of the family. On the other hand, this is wrong because Indians opt to put up together as a way of upholding strong interrelationships across generations. The economic strength that comes about because of several families staying together is an added advantage to them. Studies indicate that Indians have a specific type of companionship and handle each other with joint respect (Wolpert, 1999). The practice is different from a common belief that we have individuals who believe that Indians from varied classes cannot relate with one another. It is apparent that caste system in India is just a myth. This is based on the fact that employers in India handle their workers in a similar way they handle their members of the family. In India, workplace interrelationships rely on good relationships that individuals show one another without stopping which are different from the slave-master interrelationships that are common in most workplaces around the globe. The cultural system is of great significance to the elderly in America because the young generation highly value and respect the elderly so that they can get blessings.
Another area of great concern is arranged marriages. The majority of the individuals that do not recognize this practice condemn parents in India who select marriage spouses for their children. Marriage is critical in India because it marks a transition from childhood to adulthood. As a result, elders and parents in India have a significant responsibility to play in selecting appropriate partners for their children.
I visited Sikhism, which serves as a religious centre for one of the Indian religions. It is situated in Minnesota where individuals of varied faith go to worship and get to know about each others’ religion (WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa, 2015). The initiator of Sikhism was Guru Nanak Dev Ji and he was very categorical that Sikhism is not part of Islam or Hinduism. He further made it understandable that it was not a culture of a single racial group in India. It is rather a sovereign system of values that does not support caste system, rituals, idol worship, or superstitions that emanate from Punjab, India. The code of dressing for Sikhs is exceptional and this makes them different from the entire population. The Sikh society further supports equality between men and women in all religious denominations. Additionally, it gives educational services to individuals with an interest in understanding their religion and culture. It also gives food to those in need.
The sample population comprised of three students learning in the U.S, but of Indian origin. Some of the questions in the questionnaire included:
- How many cultures are in India?
- Why is Indian culture very collectivist and strict as compared to other cultures?
- How are guests treated by Indian?
- Why does Indian assume that each member of the family should get blessing from the elderly by touching their feet?
- Are arranged marriages still taking place in India?
- Would you admit to take part in arranged marriage?
Understanding a culture that you are not aware of is interesting and amazing. We may find it irresistible to some things and get shocked among others in a different way. Early traditional marriages are practiced in India. It came to my understanding that there are certain things that individuals from different cultures share. The responses of the interviewees indicated that individuals had a feeling that they should get married while still young so as to stay away from social stereotypes. The majority of the young people opted to get married at a tender age order to accomplish the desires of their parents. Marrying while young took place in India because most women focused on looking after their families as housewives. As time goes by, women have realized the significance of education; therefore, they take their time to get married as they find opportunities to attain tertiary education. The answers of the interviewees were clear that arranged marriages continue to take place in certain parts of the world.
The first person that I interviewed was Raju. I actually had good time with him because she was willing to respond to my questions. We discussed cultural variations between Saudi Arabia and India. We shared some similarities for instance; the entire family should come together for dinner or lunch at the dining room. Furthermore, members of the family are expected to share their incomes as a way of assisting each other. I realized that both families adore the elderly in the family. Raju further told me that arranged marriages are still practiced in India. When I asked Raju why the Indian culture is considered collective and tight and their household, she told me that Indian culture was very tight and comprised of large members of the family and family members stay together at similar households. The culture of India would be applicable for the coming generations to adhere strictly to their culture, traditions, and family. According to the Indian cultural background, a family is said to be stable, strong, and have a close interrelationship with other relatives like aunts, uncles, nephews, and grandparents who stay in the same home. This implies that family members stay together and share similar things.
The third person that I interviewed was Hangal. I was very much astonished with the way he reacted because when we ordered for coffee, we both wanted to make payments and I found out that our culture similar. When I asked him whether it is true that women in India get married at a tender age, I found out that there are some likeness between my culture and his for instance; most women get married at a tender age. However, there are some differences in both cultures because the majority of the individuals in India are having a difficult time in securing jobs and even if they secure a job, it is challenging for them to purchase an apartment or a home because most of the individuals prefer to remain single until they secure a job. Furthermore, we also discussed issues of respect and I found out that rejecting food or a drink from Indians may be considered as a disregard to the place where one is sitted and also offending the entire family putting up in a house. If they give me something whether food or a drink and I do not want to take it, I should tell them that I am full, but take it to my house and eat it when I feel hungry.
When I asked Eaman about cultures and guests in India, she told me that Indian culture comprised of many different cultures. When I also asked her how guests are treated in India, she told me that guests are accorded respect as members of the family and they honor them as holy people. I was very much surprised when she told me that they treat guests as holy people. Furthermore, when an Indian family invites you for dinner or lunch, you should share a meal with them, and you should not appreciate after eating. This will put you in a horrible position because it is said to be a discredit and type of disrespect to the family.
I found out that there are some comparisons between Arabian and Indian culture. For instance, both have a close relationship with other members of the family and share resources. Respecting the elderly is a popular practice to both Arabians and Indians because they suppose that being old is a sign of blessings. A good treat to guests is significant for Indians because they believe that visitors bring blessings into their homes.
My interaction with the interviewees was quite interesting. I was able to learn that my culture has some similarities with the Indian culture. The aspect of collectivism and marriage made our communication simple because we were able to understand one another because of the popular cultures we share. We could realize the significance of sharing a meal as a family. One of the interviewers’ explained how an increase in the number of single people in search of jobs resulted in an increase in rent rates.
India is one of the nations with the largest population internationally. Most people have negative stereotypes about Indians because they do not know the reasons and basis of their culture. The majority of individuals suppose that Indians are many and worship several gods. They also have a perception that the caste system continues to be practiced, and that parents select spouses for their children. The study and interviews conducted indicate that these are errors that come about because of failure to understand the Indian culture. Indians treasure a collectivist society highly because it encourages respect for the aged, who are a source of blessing. Although some Indians still observe past practices, it is clear that the main reason why they do this is to build their community. Finally, the interview that I conducted with Indian students enabled me to understand Indian culture and this will of great significance to me when I get an opportunity to work with Indians.
Bindloss, J., Elliott, M., Horton, P., & James, K. (2009). Northeast India. Melbourne: Lonely Planet.
Gupte, K. (2000-2009). Culture of India.
Hoiberg, D., & Ramchandani, I. (2000). Students’ Britannica India. New Delhi: Encyclopedia Britannica (India).
Wolpert, S., (1999). India. Berkeley
India Population. (2013). World Population Statistics.
WaheGuru Ji Ka Khalsa, WaheGuru Ji Ki Fateh. Sikh Society of Minnesota.