Discover India: A Journey of Spirituality, Diversely Delicious Cuisine, and Exquisite Jewelry Design
A country on almost everyone’s bucket list, India has one of the most diversified cultures in the entire world. Cherished by locals and visitors alike, India’s customs, traditions, and locations are exquisitely unique.
With so much going on all year round, visitors travel far and wide to soak up the good energy readily available at every corner of the country. The abundance of festivals, warm weather, mouth-watering cuisine and so much more makes every moment in India burst with color.
Even just thinking about India makes us want to jump on the next flight! Keep reading to feel the inspiration as to why this phenomenally beautiful country should make its way into your next holiday plan or spiritual hiatus.
Spiritual Tourism & Yoga Retreats
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Setting the scene for the rest of India’s cultural highlights are the deep-rooted practices of spiritualism and strong religious followings. The country flows with an essence of love and unity, with guests experiencing divine hospitality from locals, a wide offering of yoga retreats, and some of the most engaging religious festivals and honorings worldwide.
Yoga originates from the Hindu religion, a religion practiced by almost 80% of India’s population, and is defined by the method, process, and achievement of holistic enlightenment. Some of the most popular yoga retreats include the Chinmaya mission in Mumbai, the Ramakrishna Mission in Belur Math, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.
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Part of the spiritual tourism draw to the country includes a profoundly moving religious ceremony that takes place every evening along the Ganges River called Ganga Aarti. During this ceremony, crowds of Hindu people gather along the river bank, singing, burning incense, praying, and floating flowers on the river to show their gratitude to the river goddess Ganga. Come rain or shine, the important ritual takes place, and is best experienced from Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.
To top off the incredibly humbling rituals and yoga retreats available, one corner of India offers a more immersive experience in a mesmerizing medieval town called Leh. Here is where the core of Buddhist practice in the country lies, with simple mud-brick homes laced between fields of green farmland at the foot of the snowy Ladakh mountains and where visitors come to slow down and deepen meditational practices.
Although many retreats and temples offer only simple meals so as not to serve as a distraction to the spiritual work, traditional Indian cuisine is far from boring!
Spices, Flavors & Colorful Cuisine
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Often referred to as the essence of India, good food is at the heart and soul of the country. Different regions offer different dishes, but one thing remains universal: the food theory of the six primary tastes, which are used to build up every traditional dish and snack.
The six tastes, locally known as rasas, include sweet (madhura), sour (amala), salty (lavana), bitter (tikta), pungent (katu), and astringent (kasya). These flavors are perfectly and uniquely balanced across every dish or platter, making sure to hit the flavor palate in all the right places.
With that being said, you can see that not all Indian cuisine is spicy, even though the country is responsible for distributing over 70% of the world’s spices. Common spices used in traditional Indian cuisine include masala mixes, red chili powder (Lal Mirchi), coriander (Dhaniya), turmeric powder (Haldi), green cardamom (Hari Elaichi), and cumin (Jeera). With the majority of Indian dishes being vegetarian, the spices form the base of the flavor for almost every dish.
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Popular foods used across many dishes include chickpeas, potato, lentils, naan bread, rice, and chicken, among many others. Along with the delectable meals and platters comes traditional Indian snacks, often found at street stalls in the busiest places across the cities.
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Some must-try snacks to indulge in the culture include deep-fried triangular pastries stuffed with savory fillings called samosas, spicy potato fritters called Bhaji, and for the sweet tooths, a deep-fried flour-and-sugar-based rolled ball treat called Laddhu.
Many of the elements used in Indian cuisine and cooking are locally grown across the country's abundant agricultural lands. The countrysides are a sight to behold, including the diverse habitats across the land, the exotic wildlife, and abundant natural resources.
Diverse Natural Habitats & Native Wildlife
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India is a hub for nature enthusiasts, boasting some of the most exquisite animals like the Bengal tiger and the Indian elephant, both of which form the center of artworks and crafts around the country like this Mitr “Friend” Embroidered bag handmade by a local artisan.
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Along with the exotic wildlife comes a wide range of natural habitats, from the dense evergreen jungles of Kerala to the open expanse of the Thar desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, where visitors can tour the vast land on a camel safari fit for a king.
Two more of the most popular destinations on the eco-tourism route in India include the Kerala backwaters, where visitors can take trips down the palm tree-lined water upon boathouses and the breathtaking Munnar Orchids, where visitors can appreciate the scenery of tea growing across rolling green hills.
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With so many places to go and so much wildlife to behold, the nature exploration possibilities are endless. Amongst the wonderful wildlife of India is a highly resourceful land of agriculture and mineral mining.
Gold is one of the top 16 minerals mined in India, along with copper and zinc, two metals commonly used to make brass alloy. These popular metals, as well as silver, form the foundation of the jewelry industry in India, a massive part of the culture and livelihood for local artisans.
Dazzling Filigree & Golden Craftsmanship
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When one envisions India, an image of beautifully embellished dancing women comes to mind. Jewelry has been ingrained in the Indian culture across history and holds significant value to the people.
Most jewelry worn by well-embellished Indian women have meaning as they were likely gifted across numerous special occasions. Each piece may also carry spiritual meaning or be believed to ward off ill health across various areas of the body.
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Gold, silver, and brass are the most commonly used metals often paired with polished semi-precious stones or diamonds. Many artisans live in poverty and rely on their work to survive, selling their finely detailed jewelry at markets or through local traders.
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One of the most popular and ancient jewelry styles associated with the Indian aesthetic is filigree. Originating in ancient Mesopotamia, the craft of creating filigree spread across the Asian continent around 2500BC. The elegant style is created by finely winding and carefully placing metal wires into a lace-like design, sometimes adorned with colored beads.
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In India, the filigree style is incorporated in stylish hanging earrings, draping necklaces, bangles, nose rings, and rings, all popular choices among Indian women, especially for events such as weddings or important milestone celebrations.
These kinds of jewelry pieces are intricate, take skill to create, and are often made by artisan jewelers in poverty-stricken areas. To help support these men and women, it is important to purchase jewelry pieces from ethical sources.
For your own filigree-esque jewelry piece straight out of India, these Phool “Flower” Earrings made and designed by a female artisan, are simply gorgeous. If you need an edgier appeal, the Chaandanee “Moonshine” Earrings are also a great choice, bringing life to any outfit.
Support an Artisan in the Country Bursting with Color
India is a culturally rich country bursting with life and color as well as a plethora of highlights that make it a must-visit for any keen adventurer or enlightenment-seeker. However, despite the incredible advancements and thriving livelihood in many areas, 84 million people still live in extreme poverty across the country.
Families and artisans across India rely on their trade to survive. Help us make a difference by purchasing the skillfully made products of these local artisans. You can find a superb range of jewelry, bags, and home decor hand-crafted with love and dedication in our ShopatMAP store. For an authentic handmade gift from India, this stylish Chamak “Shine” Beaded Necklace will put a smile on anyone classy lady’s face.