India - My Heritage
Varenya Shrikant - Ball Period 6
Indian Food, its Diversity, and its Evolution
The Indian cuisine encompassess an extensive variety of regional food that is native to India. The regions and states of India are very diverse in terms of soil type, climate, culture, etc. and these are the factors that affect the various kinds of foods that are eaten in India. Food is also heavily influenced by religious traditions.
Some Indian food is made using vegetarian beliefs. These foods are purely vegetarian. Some staple Indian foods include: daal (boiled lentils with spices served with rice), roti/chapatti (cooked "tortilla" made with flour and water.", sabzi (a medley of boiled vegetables, cheese, various spices that is eaten with the roti), and some kind of dessert. The dessert could range from sweet balls of gulab jamun soaked in chashni (sugar water) or sweet fried flour mix called jalebis. A lot of Indian food is also non vegetarian. One extremely delicious and popular chicken dish is the famous chicken tikka masala (juicy bites of chicken marinated for hours in an amazing mix of yogurt and spices which is then cooked to perfection and served in an impeccably spiced gravy). Several regions of India, especially the South, specialize in seafood. Chettinad fish fry is a famous fish dish made by marinating surmai, or king fish, in fiery flavors and frying it until it is crisp. Chettinad is considered the spiciest cuisine of Tamil Nadu, a Southern region in India.
Because of the diversity of regions in India, Indian food is considered one of the most extensive and cultured food cuisines of the world. Other factors that affect Indian cuisine include historical invasions. For example, a lot of Central Asian influence has shaped Indian cuisine today from years of Mughal rule. Potato, now a staple food of India, was introduced by the Portugese, who also introduced chillies. The cuisine is still evolving, as a result of India's cultural interactions with other nations.
This summer I visited India with my family. One of the many cities we visited was Jaipur, the capitol of the state of Rajasthan. The most historic place in Jaipur is the Amer Palace. The town of Amer was originally built by Meenas, and later it was ruled by Raja Man Singh.
Amer Fort is known for its artistic Hindu style elements. It has huge ramparts and many gates with cobbled paths. It overlooks the Maota Lake. The walls are made of a beautiful red sandstone and marble. It used to be an extremely opulent palace, with some walls made of real gold. Most of the gold in the walls was removed by the government, but some remains and we got to see it from some feet away on our tour. The palace consists of a public hall, where the king held court, and a private hall for guests. It was rumored that the king had 10 or 12 queens, each of which lived in their own rooms overlooking a courtyard. The kitchens were huge, each full of enormous black cooking pots big enough to hold ten people, which were used to cook food for the entire palace.
The fort is laid out on four levels, each with its own courtyard. The palace also includes Sheesh Mahal, "the Mirror Palace", decorated with mirror mosaics and reflective pieces of gold and silver etched into its walls for a beautiful touch. Back then, even without technology, Indian architects were brilliant. They would use certain architectural techniques to ensure that the temperature of the palace would be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In a part of the palace called the Sukh Niwas, a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace. This structure was strategically placed on the Maota Lake so that the water would instantly cool the entire building.
Full with magnificent architecture, temples, great views, bookstores, and stores where you can buy authentic Rajasthani clothing, the Amer Palace is a wonderful place to visit and a must see in western India.
A picture I took of the Mirror Palace. You can see the gold and silver etched into the ceiling to create beautiful designs
My cousins and I at one of the many courtyards in the palace
The front of Amer Palace, replete with colorful paint and mosaics
The Lehnga, Sari, and Kurta
Indian clothing varies on the different ethnicities, climate, culture, and geography of each region in India. The clothing has evolved from langotas, simple pieces of cloth used to cover the body a long time ago, to lehngas and saris, more commonly worn nowadays at special occasions and gatherings.
The lehnga is a 3 piece ensemble that is extremely popular. The designs are different and each lehnga is unique. The first piece is the lehnga itself, a long skirt covered with illustrations and color. The second piece is the choli, a matching blouse worn with the lehnga. The third and final piece is the dupatta, a matching piece of cloth worn decoratively over the shoulder. Another staple in Indian clothing is the sari. A sari is a long cloth wrapped around the body. Sari designs are extremely varied. Some traditional saris will stick with the simple yet elegant design, while the more modern saris are diverse in texture, color, and design. Wearing a sari is a difficult and tedious job because you have to fold and tuck it in in the correct places for it to look perfect.
While lehngas and saris are worn by women, a basic and important male attire is called the kurta. A kurta is kind of like a long shirt. A kurta is paired with pants (jeans or loose pajamas called salwar). The designs on a kurta vary, but the colors are not nearly as diverse as they are in female attire.
Basic Ideals and Misconceptions
Hinduism is the dominant religion in India. It has several pillars and main ideals including: reincarnation, karma, universal brotherhood, equality, and Sanatan Dharma. Hinduism also unfortunately encounters many misconceptions because of ignorance or lack of knowledge.
Reincarnation is the Hindu belief that everyone, once perished, is born again in another form to return to the world. Karma, another belief, goes hand in hand with reincarnation. Karma states that everyone reaps what they sow. If in one life, you were wasteful and selfish, in your next life you will be deprived of certain privileges like wealth.
The main belief of Hinduism is Universal Brotherhood. We love everyone equally and believe that we were all made by the same God. Though someone might have a different religion than I do, we both follow roads that eventually lead to the same, omniscient and powerful God. Our paths are different, not our destination. Another word for the Hindu belief in one God is Sanatan Dharma.
A popular misconception is that Hindus worship many Gods— nearly 3 million. But, we only have different manifestations of God. Our God is one only, the Supreme God. Some people also tend to believe that Hindus worship cows, thought we do not. We respect the cow because it gives us milk and is an animal that is linked with kindness and gentleness.
Hinduism is a non-proselytizing religion, which means we do not impose our religion upon anyone or try to convert them to our religion like some other religions do, including: Islam, Christianity, and even Buddhism. Hindus love everyone equally and is known as a peaceful, ahimsa (non-violent) religion.
9 Beliefs of Hinduism
Introduction to Hinduism
Bibliography - Pictures
"The Man Can Cook: Chicken Tikka Masala." Clara Persis. N.p., 22 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.
"10 Best Fish Recipes - NDTV Food." Food.ndtv.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.
"Roti." Peterson Garden Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.
"India Travel Guide." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.
"Hinduism ppt." Hinduism 101. Google Websites, n,d. Web. 29 Aug. 2015.