Why Indians tend to personalize almost anything

Overview of the culture, history and politics of India


India is an old cultural country with 5000 years of history.

Four world religions meet in India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.

National nature / geography

India is 3,287,590 km² in size, which is 13 times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany and the size of Western Europe. India covers 2.4% of the earth's land area. It is the seventh largest country in the world, with a north-south extension of 3200km and an east-west extension of 2800km.

The highest mountain is the Nanda Devi with 7819m.

India is located at the geographic height of the Sahara. The license plate number is IND.

There are 3 large natural areas, the Himalayas, the Ganges and Brahmaputra lowlands and the Dean highlands.

The dean highlands (also dean highlands) are partly due to the drought a grass and shrub steppe, if they are not used as cotton and millet cultivation areas.

The eastern Himalayan arc, however, is covered with evergreen, tropical rainforest.

Parts of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Delta are still covered with mangrove swamps.

India has 5,600 km of coastline and a land border of 13,000 km. In the west India is bordered by Pakistan, in the north by China, Nepal and Bhutan, in the east by Burma and Bangladesh, in the southeast by the Bay of Bengal and in the southwest by the Indian Ocean. The fold mountains of the Himalayas also form the northern border.

The greater part of the western border (to Pakistan) forms the Thar desert and the south adjoining Rann of Kutch, a huge salt marsh. In the Arabian Sea (in the southwest) lies the archipelago of the Laccadives, which belongs to India.

In the southeast, in the Bay of Bengal, all important rivers such as Ganges, Godavari, Brahmaputra, Krishna and Cauvery flow into the Bay of Bengal.

The Andaman and Nicobar archipelagos, which lie off the Southeast Asian mainland, also belong to India. There is a tropical climate with the monsoons from May / June to September. The northwest, where the Thar Desert is located, is dry. The most important rivers are the Ganges with 2700km and the Godavari with 1445km.

The monsoon

There is summer and winter monsoons. However, the Indians only refer to the summer monsoon (= rainy season) as monsoon.

The word monsoon comes from the Arabic where Mansim Season means. It describes the seasonal winds that bring the warm, humid air masses in summer.

The Ganges

The Ganges is the sacred river of the Indians, but it is heavily polluted.

6 million people come to the city of Varanasi every year to bathe in the Ganges and to drink its holy water.

But in the middle of the 80s, only a few hundred meters from the bathing places of the faithful, the sewerage of the megacity poured out. Not far away was the Manikarnika Ghat (Ghat = cremation site of corpses, according to Hinduism every corpse must be cremated), where 40,000 corpses are cremated a year. So half-burned corpses swam past the people who were bathing in the river. The water in the corridor was full of bacteria, the remains of corpses and the like. 98% of the population suffered from diarrhea during this time. Child mortality was one of the highest in India.


In 1997 there were 935.7 million people in India. That is 17% (just under a

Sixth) of the world's population. The average population density is 267 inh. Per km², as many people live in some areas, e.g. in the river valleys, and only a few in the mountains. India is the second most populous country on earth after China.

An Indian is born every 1.2 seconds, that's around 17 million a year.

¼ of the people live in cities, e.g. in:

- Calcutta (11 million pop.)
- Bombay (12.6 million pop.)
- Delhi (8.4 million pop.)

A total of 65,000 foreigners live in India.

There are different languages, mainly Hindi and English, plus Bengali, Bihari, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Gujarati, Assami, Kashmiri as well as Tamil, Telugu, Malajalam and Kannada.

Tamil, Telugu, Malajalam and Kannada are spoken especially in the south and belong to the Drawida languages. The other languages ​​belong to the so-called Indo-Aryan languages.

Now a few words in Hindi:

Namasté - greeting, means something like: I bow to you. sifar - 0

ek - 1

do - 2

tin - 3

Tschaar - 4

pansch - 5

so - 100

somwar - Monday

magalwar - Tuesday

... and in Tamil:

on dru - 1

irandu - 2

mondru - 3

vaaram - week

maatham - month

82.6% of the population is Hindu, but only 11.4% Islamic and 2.4% Christian belief.

The caste system

The caste system was established around 1500 BC. Created by Indo-Aryan immigrants as a social structure. Originally this division consisted only of the caste of the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishayas and the Shudras. These are the four main boxes, which are considered to be the head, shoulders and arms, and viscera and feet of the primitive man who was created by Brahma. You are therefore devoted to God.

However, only the top three castes are allowed to call themselves Arya.

You are born into a certain caste. The caste affiliation is inheritable and it determines the future spouse (it is only rarely married into a lower caste) as well as the occupation.

At the top of the list are the Brahmins, who were allowed to become priests and are now the top stratum of the population. There are about 15 million Brahmins.

Among them are the Kshatriyas, the kings, princes and warriors. There are roughly 11 million of them.

There are also the Vaishayas, who are farmers, artisans, and traders, and the Shudras, who are workers, landless farmers, and day laborers. The lowest caste is that of the pariah. However, Mahatma Gandhi called them "Harijans", children of God.

They are still garbage collectors, washers or the like today. There are few officials who are harijans. There are 110 million Harijans. The Harijans are outcast both socially and religiously.

Especially in the villages they are treated like lepers, they have to build their huts a little outside the village.

They are legally and legally hardly protected.

In Indian newspapers one can often find notes that protests took place when pariah were given a certain number of places to study, or the news that members of a higher caste had burned down huts of Harijans.

There are still numerous intermediate boxes that arose through the delimitation of different occupational groups or marriage, such as B. those of the dobi (washers), those of the goldsmiths


India is an agricultural country. Rice, millet, wheat, sugar cane, sesame, peanuts and bananas are grown.

Export products are: cotton, jute, tea, coffee, coconut products and pepper. There are around 193 million cattle in India, but their meat remains unused for religious reasons.

Iron, coal, petroleum, bauxite, manganese and chromium are mined in India.

Energy is obtained from hydro and thermal power plants as well as from 7 nuclear power plants.

The rail network is 62,000 km long.

The main sea ports are: Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kochin, Vishakhapatmam and Kandla.

There are 85 airfields.


In the 8th century AD, Islam invades India through Arab conquerors.

In 1818 England emerged victorious from a battle between Portugal, the Netherlands, France and England, making India an English colony from that point on.

In 1877 Queen Victoria accepted the title of "Empress of India".

On January 26th, 1950 Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed independence, this day has been a national holiday since then.

Portugal was owned by the Goa colony until 1961, when the colony returned to India.


Since the constitution of January 26th, 1950 India is a democratic republic and divided into 25 states and 7 union territories. The president has a term of office of 5 years.

From 1947 to 1996 the Congress Party ruled with two interruptions. The President of the Republic has been H.D. Sharma from the Congress Party since 1992.

Aral Behari Vajpayee has been Prime Minister since 1998.


Delhi is the capital of India and has 8.4 million inhabitants.

The city was founded in 1,200 BC, this assumption has been confirmed by recent excavations.

However, the first historical records date from the 11th century AD, when princes had their seat in Delhi.

Delhi had its first “heyday” under the rule of the Tughlak, but only until Timur Leng and his Mongol army devastated the city in 1398 and killed over 100,000 residents.

In 1739, the Persian king Nadir Shah robbed Delhi and took, among other things, the famous "Peacock Throne" with him, which Shah Reza Pahlevi used as his seat.

In the middle of the 18th century the British East India Company established a trading post in the city. In the subsequent wars against the Hindu eggs, which attacked from the south, the British always sided with the Mughals, who survived the multiple sieges well. Only the Afghan king Ahmad Shah Durani was the only one who successfully plundered Delhi.

From 1804 the British ruled Delhi.

In 1857 the British were overthrown by insurgents who also caused a terrible bloodbath.

Modern New Delhi emerged in the 1920s south of the historic city center. Even today, New Delhi, which was planned by British architects, is the seat of all Indian government agencies.

Manners / customs

Despite many innovations, many Indians still adhere to the customs.

The members of the higher castes wash all over their bodies before going to bed and clean the whole house.

Most Indians have already made a pilgrimage to the Ganges because they believe that a bath in the holy river cleanses all sins. Often they also drink the water in order to become immortal from it or to be cured of illnesses.

Even today, girls are given the dowry with them in marriage, because in India a girl does not count as much as a boy. The family of the future husband will get money because the wife will also need to eat and possibly get sick. What the girl worked at home does not matter. However, according to Indian law, dowry demands have been made since the beginning of the 19th prohibited, they can be punished with up to 2 years in prison.

However, widow burning is now rare because it is forbidden. Only in very few cases does a widow allow herself to be burned with her husband. Widows can no longer marry after their husband's death because remarriage is prohibited. However, in previous travel reports by Europeans, it was portrayed as if the widows would voluntarily burn themselves.

This custom is called sati and means fame and honor for the family of the dead, which is why many families urge the sister-in-law to burn herself with the man.

However, life without a husband (→ breadwinner) is inhumane and therefore hardly worth living.

It is also a custom for women and girls to eat after men, but in many city families the custom is no longer so strictly followed, but strictly followed in the villages.


In the mid-1960s, Goa was the dream destination of the flower power movement. Even today, almost every Indian traveler comes to Goa. However, Goa is not a city, but a union territory that was formed from the former Portuguese colonial areas Goa, Daman and Diu.

The Goans want to preserve their Indian-Christian culture with pride.

Many older people still speak Portuguese today, even though the colonial era ended in 1961.

The area of ​​Goa is 3,702 km² and is up to 1,000 m high. The capital is Panjim (Panaji).

The three areas of Goa, Daman and Diu have a total of 1.1 million inhabitants, including 1 million in Goa.

The climate is very balanced and tropical, the maximum temperature is around 33 ° C and the minimum temperature is 21 ° C in January and 24 ° C in July. The national language is Konkani, but English is also understood.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is about 200 km east of Delhi.

It is one of the most famous buildings in the world and the symbol of India.

It was supposed to be a monument of love for Mumtaz Mahal, wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In seventeen years of marriage, Mumtaz Mahal had given birth to 14 children to the ruler. Her name translates as “Chosen of the Palace”, but her real name was Arjumand Banu Baygam.

She died in 1631 giving birth to her fourteenth child.

At first she was simply buried, but her husband decided to show her his love with a tomb.

He planned a tomb on the Yamuna River in the north Indian city of Agra. Construction began in 1632, and over the next 22 years 20,000 men and women were employed.

The Taj Mahal is built in the style of a mosque. It is not known which

Architects planned the Taj Mahal, but the influences from Persia, Turkey and India are unmistakable.

The surface of the building was decorated with inlays made of precious or semi-precious stones. However, these were stolen in the turmoil of the 18th century.

The dome is 67 meters high, the area of ​​the entire building is 56.6 m.


Hinduism originated in the 1st millennium BC. From the religion of the immigrated Indo-European Aryans.

It tends to absorb foreign elements and has been influenced by a wide variety of religions. In India, 80% of the population are Hindus, around 700 million people around the world. Hinduism is widespread in many parts of the world, such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius, the USA and England.

It affects all Indian life from birth to death. Religion and everyday life cannot be separated, because Hinduism is not a “Sunday religion”.

Hinduism is one of the world's greatest religions.

In India, the geographical and economic conditions in particular led Hinduism to develop into a social and religious system that governs all aspects of life.

According to the teachings of Hinduism, ’every living being has an immortal soul that urges to be reborn after death. According to personal good and bad actions, each person is reborn in a certain shape. Because there is also the possibility of being reborn as an animal, the Hindus are against killing animals, for example the cow is a sacred animal for them.

The wish of all Hindus is to escape this cycle of death and rebirth, they try to do so with yoga or meditation. There is also a completely different relationship to death, since the Hindus know about rebirth. For them, death is something natural, the old body is given up and the soul waits for its incarnation (→ incarnation, idea common in many religions, according to which divine beings are embodied in earthly form, especially as human beings, e.g. Jesus Christ as God's incarnation, the 10 avataras of Vishnu in Hinduism [from: Bertelsmann Discovery '97]) in a new and young body.


The Hindus worship numerous gods (→ polytheism), unlike the Christians who worship only one god (→ monotheism). Gods: - Agni is the fire god.

- Brahma (n) the source of all being as well as the creator and ruler of the world.

- Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu in Hinduism.

- Dewi is Shiva's wife, also called Durga.

- Durga is also Shiva's wife, called “Great Mother”, in her most terrible incarnation Kali.

- Ganescha is the elephant-headed son of Schiwa and Parwati, he is the god of writing, knowledge and intelligence and a helper in need (→ Ganesha). He wears an elephant's head because his father cut off his head in anger and had to put the head of the closest living being on him in order to bring him back to life.

- Indra is the god of war and thunderstorms.

- Kali is called “the black one” and is Shiva's wife and the most terrible incarnation of Durga or Parwati.

- Kama is the god of love.

- Karttikeya is Skanda.

- Krishna is called "the dark one" and is revered as the incarnation of Vishnu.

- Lakshmi is Vishnu's wife and the goddess of happiness.

- Manu is the progenitor of humanity and the author of order and custom.

- Mitra is the god of light, friendship and contracts.

- Naga is the carrier of fertility.

- Parwati is Shiva's wife (→ Parvati).

- Prajapati is also Shiva's wife.

- Rama is venerated as an incarnation of Vishnu.

- Rudra is the storm god and the lord of the animals.

- Saraswati is the goddess of learning.

- Shakti is Shiva's wife and the personification of creative energy (→ Shakti).

- Shiva is together with Vishnu the highest god as well as the creator and destroyer of the universe (→ Shiva).

- Skanda is the god of war and Shiva's son.

- Waruna is the guardian of the cosmic and moral world order and later became the god of water.

- Vishnu forms a trinity of gods with Brahma and Indra, he is the sustainer of the world and has 10 different incarnations (avataras) (→ Vishnu).

- Yama is the primordial man and at the same time the god of death.

(From: Bertelsmann Discovery '97)

Many devout Hindus have one or more corners with images of saints in their homes where they worship. This is called pujah, which means something like worship or worship.

References: - Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh 1996

From: Bertelsmann Discovery '97

Bertelsmann Electronic Publishing GmbH, Munich 1996

- Georges Jean, Marie- Raymond Farré, Jacques Drimaracci The large picture atlas for children / The world and its peoples Südwest Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Munich 1989 Updated edition autumn 1990

- Internet: ~ www.destination-asien.de

- www.bkpal.purespace.de/hindu.htm ~ www.hausarbeiten.de

- www.uni-karlsruhe.de

Photo credits: - http://home.t-online.de/home/sven.holzwig/rdm/forgot/tmahal.htm

- www.destination-asien.de

- www.multimania.com/realka/jelena/TajMahal.html