Visiting Beautiful India
India is simply an enchanting land. Before visiting there I had an image of India as being a mysterious and exotic place. Veiled women and brightly colored saris... yogis meditating under banyan trees... and delicately carved Buddhist temples. During my trip, I found all of this and more. India is indeed an enchanting land with a varied landscape and rich in cultural diversity.
From the deserts of Rajasthan in western India, I saw images of camels crossing the desert before the setting sun. In the paths of the silk road and the spice trade, the nomands carry such goods as delicate silk, scented curry, and fragrant coffee across the continents to China and the Middle East. The nomads still migrate, with their faces carefully covered for protection against the sands blown by the hot desert winds.
My first morning in New Delhi, I awoke early to an already busy world. It was summertime and outside I heard people scurrying to finish their business before the cool morning hours melted into the intense afternoon heat. The sounds of chirping birds created an echoey sound against the cool marble hallway, blending with the faint sounds of vendors who were pushing their vegetable carts and calling out for customers. As I got up and went outside to look around, I noticed the beautiful and detailed architecture, a remnant of the Moghul empires. The pungent smell of cattle dung stung my nostrils, but was quickly abated by the sweet smell of the blossoming lotus flowers. Although during my visit, I had the opportunity to walk in amazement around the busy and crowded streets of the "grey market" in Old Delhi, my stay in Delhi was far too short.
In northern India I saw the great snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. The hill stations in the mighty Himalayas provided a wonderful escape from the oppressive summer heat of New Delhi. The Buddhist temples were busy with yellow robed monks going about their morning chores.
And in southern India, the palm lined beaches of Kerala provided a refreshing place to escape the oppresive heat of the north. The beaches along the Arabian Sea in southern India are known for their gentle surf, mild breezes, and the blue azure water. Kerala has almost 400 miles of shoreline dotted with coconut groves, natural harbors, and beautiful lagoons. Perhaps no place in the world has such gentle surroundings and friendly people.
India in the World Today
India is a land rich in history and diversity. The Indian subcontinent is separated from Asia by the vast mountain ranges, and from the rest of the world by seas. The varied climates and geographic areas of India have resulted in a wide variety of cultures. Today, India is a modern country that has preserved many of its ancient traditions, some dating back more than 4,000 years. Beautifully carved ancient Buddhist temples exist side by side with factories churning out massive numbers of computer chips.
In 1947, Mahatma Gandhi helped India achieve independence from British colonization using Satyagraha, a policy of nonviolent resistance as a means of political reform. Today, India has developed a truly vibrant democracy.
With a population of one billion people, India struggles today with its overpopulation problem. India's people have over 17 major languages with over 800 dialects. While predominantly Hindu, other religions practiced in India include Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. The four volume Veda texts, which are the primary texts of Hinduism, had a great influence on Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. They are believed to be the oldest scriptures in the world, and many believe they anticipated some of the modern scientific discoveries.
And, perhaps because of the diversity of cultures in India, the country has a rich artistic and handicraft tradition. From delicate woven silk to bold Tanjore paintings, the handicrafts reflect the history and ingenuity of the many Indian cultures. Here are some of the handicrafts that we have found in India:
From the Bidar District in south central India, we discoverd beautiful Bidriware. Bidriware is black gunmetal artwork with bright and delicate silver wire hammered into hand chisled grooves (more on Bidriware...).
Painted Paper Mache Items
The painted paper mache items are delicately created and hand painted with many of the traditional designs and historic scenes of India. We have paper mache boxes, a lovely place for storing small jewelry items. Keep an eye out for our seasonal paper mache items such as Painted Easter Eggs and Christmas Tree Ornaments.
Tanjore Paintings, which come from the Chennai area of India, are examples of one of the indigenous art forms for which India is noted. The art was developed in the Gupta Empire during the 18th century. Tanjore paintings are unique because the raised relief in the pictures give them a three dimensional look, and they are embellished with gold foil and semi-precious stones (precious gems were used in the original historic artwork). The vivid colors used in the paintings are typically pictures of the Hindu Gods and Godesses, although contemporary artists are using subjects such as animals and architecture.
Silk Cushion Covers
The embroidered silk cushion covers are adorned with bangles, beads, and tiny mirrors sewn onto the fabric. The detail is exquisite, and these cushion covers will look lovely in any decor.
The techniques for the delicate weaving of silk in these lovely scarves has been passed down from generation to generation. The beauty of the contrasting dual colors can be seen by turning the silk over to view the opposite side.
The sixth to the fourth centuries B.C.E. is known as the age of great thinkers of the world. In India, the fifth through the fourth centuries B.C.E. was the age of Buddha. He inspired a religion that spread far from his homeland. The symbol of Buddha holds many meanings, and for many it represents the connection to the divinity in all living things.
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