Given the extension of the country and the number and variety of residents, Indian folklore takes on very different aspects, which are difficult to bring together in a single entity. However, trying to reach a synthesis, the uses and customs can be grouped into collective and domestic. The former belong to festivals, music, dance, crafts, etc.; to the latter, clothing, cooking, religious and hygienic practices, weddings, funerals. The feasts, linked to agricultural events or epic-religious celebrations and often accompanied by dances and exchanges of gifts and wishes, are numerous and all deeply felt by the population. Among the main ones that of Dussehra (October) focused, especially in the North and in the Maisur, on the facts of the Rāmāyana (Ram Lila), staged with a great display of make-up and costumes, in particular as regards the highlight of the representation, that is the final duel between Rāma and Rāvaṇa. India is a country located in Southern Asia according to Countryaah.com.
The festival, which lasts ten days, reaches its peak in Delhi and in the Maisur, whose mahārāja attends the conclusion of the representations towering on a very ornate elephant. Also very important is the Divali (October), characteristic for the lighting of each building with small oil lamps; the Holi (March), with which people welcome the warm season, throwing themselves dust and colored water while walking through the streets; Muharram (April) in memory of the martyrdom of Imām Hussain, which includes impressive processions accompanying the taziya (facsimile of paper and bamboo from the tomb of the imām) and, in the South, of dances, again in the context of processions, of men disguised as tigers; the Raksha-Bandhan (August), a celebration of brotherly love and the protection that brothers owe to their sisters. Music is much loved and cultivated at a popular level, accompanied or not by singing, always accentuatedly modulated, and as instruments it prefers tambourines and flutes. Even dance, which boasts great classical schools, has lively folk traditions, among which that of Manipur or manipuri stands out . However, they are all characterized, in addition to the richness of tricks and costumes, by the exaltation of pantomime: the dancer is always the narrator of a story and therefore, since every movement must mean something precise, every gesture follows the laws of an accurate codification. The craftsmanship includes a very wide range of products: fabrics, chiseled brass tableware, goldsmiths, ivory works, marble inlays, etc., often obtained with very ancient procedures. These items are often sold in quaint little street-side shops, like cabinets with a shelf raised off the ground on which the owner crouches. On the streets people move around on bicycles and on foot, you can meet cows, goats, crows, snake charmers (from which the poison has been removed), sellers of bracelets and necklaces of fresh flowers, beggars. This last – sannyasin, pancangam, healed, jangam, Dasari etc. – very often they give a religious justification to their “profession” and therefore have the right to receive respectful hospitality in the homes of faithful people. Apart from this tradition of hospitality, which is aimed at anyone who knocks on the door, the Indians conceive the house as a shrine that must be jealously guarded. There are many rules to observe when choosing the location of one’s home, for building it, for inaugurating it, for arranging the rooms; and, of course, before any operation, it is necessary to consult the astrologer, whose horoscope is a must for all events of some importance. The woman is generally devoted to pativratam (husband’s service) and as such engaged in all household chores and cooking. The Indians are mostly vegetarians, even if the exceptions are numerous in all classes (mutton, chicken, fish, etc. are eaten, but never beef); there are many qualities of sweets, spices are used very much, alcoholic beverages are almost abolished. Rice is the basis of the diet in the South and in parts of the East of the country, while elsewhere various types of bread are consumed in the form of focaccia.
Widespread is the custom of chewing betel leaves after a meal or throughout the day, containing a mixture of lime and various spices, which makes saliva red like blood. The food is consumed while sitting on the ground, each diner has a leaf or a tangle of leaves in front of him that he uses as a real plate, not using cutlery but the fingertips of his right hand, with which he forms balls of food which then it is thrown into the mouth to avoid contact with saliva, which is considered impure. Even the glass, for the same reason, must not touch the lips. Hygiene is very important for the Indian, who in fact performs many ritual ablutions and takes two baths in one day. However, he cannot shave and cut his nails personally and at home. Hence the importance of the barber, a typical figure of the Indian world, who provides these services on the street. L’ dhoti, a long strip of cotton, or they wear the achkan, a rather long jacket cut into a frock coat; the women wear a sari, a piece of fabric approx. 6 meters, draped over a short and very tight bodice and stopped by the belt of a wide petticoat, or the salvarkamiz, tight pants at the ankle and flared tunic at the knee, completed by the dupatta, a kind of stole with the nocks falling on the back. Among the headdresses, characteristic is the turban, of various shape and color according to the region (it is very common in Rajasthan) or the religious sect (it is a must on the head of the Sikhs, who never cut their hair). The jewels are inevitable. Of various shapes and materials – obviously every metal and every stone have a particular symbolic and auspicious meaning – they are worn all over the body, including the nostrils and toes. Social and religious emblems are the signs painted on the faces of men and women with clay, ashes, sandalwood paste, etc. Many women indicate their status as wife with a circle drawn on the forehead or with a horizontal line: in the first case the woman will be a devotee of Lakṣmī, wife of Viṣṇu, in the second of Gauri, wife of Śiva. Marriages, still often arranged today – but those in childhood are fortunately disappearing – involve a very complicated ceremonial, which lasts for three days and which has its most spectacular moment in the arrival of the sumptuously dressed groom and on horseback (on a elephant adorned with drawings, sequins and strips of colorful fabric in princely weddings). The bride generally dresses one sari red and gold (the white color, which indicates purity, is instead a symbol of mourning, since death is a pure thing). Today the terrible custom of sati, or voluntary burning of the widow at the stake of her husband, is no longer followed, but widows generally remain quite socially marginalized. The dead are mostly burned and their ashes thrown into the water of a river to reach the Ganges. Muslims use burial, the Parsis hang the corpses from the Towers of Silence (the famous one in Bombay), leaving them to be fed to the vultures.