Culture of India

Culture of India is a complex phenomenon. In its broadest sense, it includes everything a society does. It can also be limited to a particular social class (working class culture) or genre (literature, music). Still it’s always near to impossible to define what exactly a popular culture constitutes. Contrary to what may appear from outside; to Indians, there is no such thing as Indian culture in sense of a uniform manner of doing something. There is little common between the Punjabi culture with its emphasis on having fun and the Bengali culture with its emphasis on intellectualism. In the south, a person from Kerala finds the food from Andhra too spicy for their tongue. The seven states in the northeast are home to thousands of tribes and regions, each boasting of a rich history and unique culture. So the term ‘culture of India‘ has little meaning, unless it’s used an amalgamation of a score of different cultures within the country. Nonetheless, it is thought that the culture of India stems from its ancient history from the amalgamation of the Aryan nomads that migrated from the Central Asia through Afghanistan and settled in India with the natives of the valley of the Indus River of Dravidian descent.

Naga Sadhu Culture of India
Naga Sadhu: India's holy men

Food of India

Curry is probably the most popular Indian cuisine in the west. But its connoisseurs mostly live in the south. Curry is not as special for Indians from other parts of the country, as it is to the people in the south. A Punjabi, who loves their chapattis and a dish made from spinach, often cringes at the sight of dhokla, which is another popular dish in the south specially Gujarat. The cuisine of the omnivorous people in the north east is yet to spread to the rest of the country. The Bengalis love fish and rice, but Gujaratis prefer to stay mainly vegetarian. In Bihar, people are particularly fond of a dish called “litti chokha” stuffed with “sattu” (roasted gram flour). The South Indian “masala dosa” is cherished all over India. The point I want to emphasize is that there is no uniform Indian cuisine; there is much variety to be found here.

Here’s a list of the most popular chicken dishes of India.

The top 10 foods to try when in India

Traditional chicken curry
Traditional chicken curry

Indian Cinema

Nothing mirrors a society better than its literature or cinema. It may seem to foreigners that Indian cinema is all about Bollywood and Bollywood is all about Hindi films. Nothing could be far from truth. Of the more than 1,200 films annually produced in India, a little over 200 are in Hindi. Tamil, which also accounts for around 200 films a year, gives a tough competition to Hindi cinema. There is vibrant culture of cinema in other Indian languages too. And it’s not only about Indian languages. Each year, several dozen movies come out in English.

Indians love movies, a source of popular entertainment. They love to go out with their friends or family and could easily watch a Hindi movie for 3 hours. Life in India would be quite boring without these the colourful movies.

Here’s a Bollywood “item song”

Festivals of India

India is often dubbed as the land of festivals. Rarely there is a week when there isn’t a festival to celebrate. With the exception of a Diwali and a couple of others, India doesn’t even have national festivals. Onam is a popular festival in Kerala, very few people in the north are even aware of it. Similarly, Chhath puja is celebrated by only a few outside Bihar. My grandparents are ardent Chhath enthusiasts and every year, it’s an occasion where the whole family from all over India would gather.

Ganesh Chaturthi, another popular festival, has yet to cross Maharastra’s borders. Gurupurabs are a public holiday in Punjab, rarely a person from West Bengal is even aware of their existence.

The Durga Puja (the nine day worship of goddess Durga) is one of my favourites  It is a festival of good versus evil. In Bihar my home state, we celebrate this festival with great devotion and enthusiasm.

Culture of India
Me taking part in the Durga Puja celebrations with family and friends. Can you spot me in the picture?

Clothes of India

The clothing in India varies from region to region depending on climate and ethnicity. Both South and North Indian women wear the saree that is draped around the body in various formats. The salwar kameez is also very popular in India especially in Northern India. In general unmarried girls wear the salwar kameez while married women wear the saree. However today, the distinctions are less and no such format exists these days. The traditional clothes of men include the kurta pajama, the dhoti, sherwani (mostly worn during weddings and formal occasions, lungi (mostly worn at home), and sarong.

How to wear the sareeWhat do Indians wear

National symbols of India

The national anthem of India is the “Jana-gana-mana” composed by poet Rabindranath Tagore. More than 60 years of Independence from the British, we Indians still take pride in singing the national anthem.

The national animal of India is none other than the king of the jungle, the tiger. Ever since the launch of the “Project Tiger” in 1973 by the government of India, tiger population has showed a gradual increase in numbers. Currently there is a ban on tiger tourism in major tiger habitats. More about the wildlife in India.

The national bird of India is the peacock. The peacock has religious significance and supposed to represent grace, joy, beauty and love. The lotus is the national flower, mango the national fruit, while the banyan tree is the national tree.

The culture of India is more than 3000 years old that has enumerated from several civilizations, religions, philosophies, invasions and influence. To conclude, the culture of India is a broad term which doesn’t refer to some Indian way of doing things or looking at the world. As shown above, it’s a sum total of the numerous cultures that are found in this part of the world.

Indian Culture by Ami Vitale as captured by her journeys as a photojournalist

Places to visit in India

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Amazing Facts About India
India For Kids: Amazing Facts About India

What to learn about India? What to teach your children about India? Are you travelling to India? Here is a simple book that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about this amazing country. My book, India For Kids is designed especially for children but travellers going to India can also take advantage of this simple book. You can find out more about the book here India For Kids: Amazing Facts About India which is available on all Amazon stores.

Shalu Sharma

Shalu Sharma is a blogger and a writer from Bihar, India. She is the founder of YouBihar, the Bihar social networking site and writer on tourism in India. Apart from blogging, she is also a mother who does cooking and washing. She also watches movies and read other blogs. You can follow her on .

72 thoughts on “Culture of India

  • October 30, 2012 at 2:32 am
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    Shalu, I love curry chicken and nan bread. India is one of the most unique cultures in the World. I would be afraid to ride a camel. They are big animals.

    Have you ever ridden a camel?

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    • October 30, 2012 at 9:04 am
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      Michael, Indian culture is a lot of about food as well, curies being one of them. If you like curry a lot then you are partly Indian lol. I have yet to ride a camel. I will try that one day.
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  • October 30, 2012 at 5:18 am
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    India must be one of the top countries, if not the number one country, that has a rich culture dating back to several thousand years back. Thanks for the detailed article.
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    • October 30, 2012 at 9:21 am
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      Thank you Shamis. The culture of India dates back centuries from the Indus Valley to the coming of the Aryans and others to form a fusion of cultures.
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  • October 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm
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    Hey Shalu, Thanks for sharing all information about the culture of India here. I love the national anthem of India and I always listen to it in Indian cricket match 😀
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    • October 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm
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      You are welcome Ehsan. That’s great. I know Afghanistan is doing well in the Cricketing arena.
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  • October 31, 2012 at 11:05 am
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    Indian culture is best all over the world whether it is food or dress the culture is rich. Thanks for the detailed article and I love camel riding… 🙂

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  • November 2, 2012 at 6:10 am
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    Really love to read about Indian culture, However we Indians are more curious to know about western culture. This is certainly not good and we should take fruitful steps to preserve our culture and excite people to know about our own culture.
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    • November 2, 2012 at 6:32 am
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      I agree with you completely. The other side of the fence is always greener.
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  • November 2, 2012 at 11:10 am
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    India has always been one of those life time destination. I have always been so fascinated about indian culture, food and religion. Unfortunately i haven’t been able to visit India yet but i hope in a near future. Reading your post was like traveling a little bit there! thanks!

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  • November 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm
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    So true, Indian culture changes village from village, it’s a writer’s and a photographer’s paradise! I found many vegetarians in the North too, both in Rajasthan and in Uttarakhand, since I don’t eat meat it was super easy for me living in India 🙂
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    • November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm
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      Angela, agreed. Culture in India do vary from village to village. Meat consumption is one thing that varies from family to family. Thank you for commenting and hope to see you again. Best wishes.
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  • November 4, 2012 at 9:15 am
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    India is a place of colors and festivals. I have always loved reading about this country. Thanks for the great post Shalu.

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  • November 5, 2012 at 4:40 am
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    Eileen, Native indian lifestyle is a lot of about meals as well, curies being one of them. If you like curry a lot then you are partially Native indian lol.

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  • November 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm
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    Ever since I’ve seen the movie “Eat, pray, love” I want to go travel, especially to check out India.
    There is just not enough time. 🙂

    Akos
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  • November 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm
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    I have been interested in the culture and foods in India for some time. Hopefully I will visit some day soon. I enjoyed reading your introduction to India, nice article.

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    • November 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm
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      Sure, any time. You are most welcome to India. I am glad you liked the introduction to India.
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  • November 6, 2012 at 2:02 am
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    Thanks for putting the many facets of your interesting culture in one place 🙂 I’ve always been fascinated with your country and I can’t wait to visit!

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  • November 6, 2012 at 2:28 am
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    Hi Shaluh, me and a bunch of friends are planning to visit India next year. I’ll read your site to keep me informed about your interesting country! 🙂

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    • November 6, 2012 at 8:31 am
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      Paula, thats great. Please do come and read my blog and feel free to get in touch for any India related questions. Thank you for yor comment and see you again.
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  • November 7, 2012 at 9:29 am
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    Whenever the subject is “culture” of India, the first things that come to mind are: curry, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Indian clothing, Bollywood and many more. Glad to know about the festivals celebrated in India. Thanks for sharing, Shalu!

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  • November 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm
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    I think Indian culture is great. Going by bus and encountering a cow blocking the road? Well, we#Ll have to wait until it decides to walk away. May take a few hours. Great! =)

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  • November 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm
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    Shalu,
    Can u please tell me which plugin you are using for social sharing slider. I use sharebar but your’s is better then it.

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  • November 11, 2012 at 8:28 am
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    I knew little of Indian culture mungkian because some saw movies india. India pick a very good culture and preservation of the culture of India to date is maintained. I was fortunate to come to this website because I gained knowledge about the culture of India.

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  • November 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Your country’s culture is rich, diverse and extremely fascinating! Thanks for the share!

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  • November 12, 2012 at 11:20 am
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    Beautiful people, warm hospitality, rich culture, words are not enough to define India. Namaste!

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  • November 12, 2012 at 11:33 am
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    Curry! Not a big fan of heavily spiced food but India, like Thailand and Philippines ranks the first three countries on my list for a jest-setter experience of gourmet cultural cuisine

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  • November 15, 2012 at 6:42 am
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    Welcome to India, it’s one of the world’s well-preserved and most breath-taking cultures. I love the country, I’ve been there on my second honeymoon and the Taj Mahal is majestic by the way!

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  • November 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm
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    India is known for its Culture.
    We forgive. We donate.
    Theres a reason why India is called Golden bird.
    proud to be Indian _/\_
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  • November 17, 2012 at 9:42 am
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    When I was in my lunchbox days, I always choose India as my country of origin for our UN Day. I love the culture, and I’m also a sucker for their colorful and bright saris and sarongs.

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  • November 19, 2012 at 5:22 am
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    About time I read about your article. I’ve booked a trip to India for the coming holidays in December, it’s never too expensive to experience another culture, something as rich and as beautiful as that of India

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  • November 25, 2012 at 9:59 am
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    Shalu, the image of the chicken curry is very enticing, wow 🙂 Riding a camel is a full body exercise, at least that is what people who have experienced such rides say.

    I and my family were on vacation in Jaipur a few years back, but I could not garner the courage to ride the camel. But my hubby and twin kids did enjoy it very much!
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    • November 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm
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      Hi Kavita, I know what you mean about the chicken dish. They are absolutely yummy. I have also not tried the camel ride but I hope to do so some day. Thanks for your comment.
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  • November 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm
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    i like indian tradition, festival and culture very much. blue lotus folk music festival is purely based on the indian culture.

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  • December 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm
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    I’ve known India for their best traditional custom dress, and exotic and various type of species! Also like to watch their Hindi movies.

    Can you share more about where to find Indian’s famous species?

    Thanks for posting! Wanna keep up to date.
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  • February 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm
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    I love the Indian culture, dress foods; nice article and nice pictures too.

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  • August 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm
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    Thanks for this very informative post Shalu. India has always fascinate me ever since I was a kid. Would love to be able to visit your country one of these days.

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  • August 23, 2013 at 12:22 am
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    I Personaly very like Culture Of India, nice article and nice pictures too.

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  • August 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm
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    India Culture are close to Pakistani culture there are just few thing which don’t same that is religious things

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  • December 22, 2013 at 10:33 am
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    Indian culture is the best culture in all over the world. India is the place where people of each and every religion celebrate their festivals together which can only be seen in India. India is the land of unity, brotherhood which make our country proud. I am Indian and I feel very proud.

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  • June 5, 2014 at 7:24 am
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    One of the best Indian site I have ever visited. I would like to appreciate your way of writing & most of all the topic you have selected like Indian Culture, Indian clothes, places and all about India. My friends talks a lot about Indian culture, so I think I should inform them about shalusharma.com
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  • June 6, 2014 at 4:21 am
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    Thanks for the informative article on India. Really appreciate your hard work, you have covered all the topics that people would be interested to know.

    Reply
  • August 28, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi … Ganpati Bapa Maruya… The best festival to enjoy… I m loving it

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  • October 2, 2014 at 7:16 am
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    World knows India is torch bearer in religion, and only spiritual religion.I’ve no words to mention the faith and firm conviction towards god what i have visited in Hardware, Varanasi,Allahabad,vaishnavdevi and many more.
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  • October 16, 2014 at 5:00 am
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    India is rich in heritage and culture. We have cultural diversity in every KM of distance. Our food, dresses and langues changes within few kilometers.
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  • November 9, 2014 at 11:47 am
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    your Article on culture of india is very nice topic and it is showing beauty of india and you r awesome writer doing well job
    Go For It!

    Reply
  • November 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm
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    your Article on culture of india is very nice topic and it is showing beauty of india and you r awesome writer doing well job.thanks

    Reply
  • November 30, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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    As always, Thanks for the informative article on India. Really appreciate your hard work, you have covered all the topics that people would be interested to know.
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  • December 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm
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    India has the best culture in the worldWorld knows India is torch bearer in religion, and only spiritual religion.
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  • December 31, 2014 at 5:42 pm
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    Very Interesting Post, Really enjoyed it. Keep posting good stuff!

    Reply
  • January 27, 2015 at 6:41 am
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    Thanks for the informative article on India. Really appreciate your hard work, you have covered all the topics that people would be interested to know.

    I recommend you to cover a documentary of how the kaasi evolved

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  • February 16, 2015 at 10:19 pm
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    it’s really good , you explained culture of India with a very sweet and classy touch ,

    Reply
  • April 2, 2015 at 9:59 am
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    One of the Best Website I have seen. We find a lot of information here.

    Reply
  • April 17, 2015 at 2:46 pm
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    I love the culture of India. No one have this strict culture. I’m proud to be an Indian.

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  • May 4, 2015 at 7:18 am
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    India has the best culture in the worldWorld knows India is torch bearer in religion, and only spiritual religion.

    Reply
  • May 19, 2015 at 4:58 am
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    Thanks for amazing article on India. It’s really good, explained all the topics with a very sweet and classy touch.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2015 at 7:25 am
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    What a curious article presented in this web page, really its awesome.

    Reply
  • August 26, 2015 at 10:15 am
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    its a great informative site i know many things from this i hope you will post valuable post in future

    Reply
  • September 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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    Ms. Shalu Sharma you write great brief article about true culture of our beloved god blessed with many beautiful colors country no doubt it’s good but you have update some your content like embed youtube video Me taking part in the Durga Puja celebrations with family and friends photo because I could see the error there.
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  • November 17, 2015 at 7:52 am
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    i love indian culture ever. if you love indina movie, please dont forget to visite my site about hate story 3 up coming movie.

    Reply
  • November 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm
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    Proud to be an Indian. Really appreciated your work for putting down the culture of India, festivals, indian foods and more. Thanks a lot
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  • November 20, 2015 at 5:10 am
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    I love the culture of India, India is great, i am proud to be Indian and this article is very informative and useful, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm
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    Hi, I am Sudipta founder of Share Of Heart. A passionate blogger just start my journey. Presently share on various topics on Indian Culture , Human Life, Leadership etc.

    My interest are on Indian Culture, Festival, Folks .

    During visit in your blog it’s give me immense pleasure and experience on a great presentation in your blog which interns inspired me a lot.

    Thanks ..!!

    shareofheart.wordpress.com
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  • January 19, 2016 at 6:14 pm
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    Hello dear .You put really very helpful information.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

    Reply
  • February 27, 2016 at 10:22 am
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    India is a nice place of colors,Folks and festivals. its a great informative blogs.

    Reply

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