By Tayjey ClairboneSpecial to CSMS MagazineOne third the area of the United States, the Republic of India occupies most of the subcontinent of India in southern Asia. It borders on China in the northeast. Other neighbors are Pakistan on the west, Nepal and Bhutan on the north, and Burma and Bangladesh on the east. The culture varies like its vast geography. People speak in different languages, dress differently, follow different religions, eat different food but are of the same temperament. So whether it is a joyous occasion or moment of grief, people participate wholeheartedly, feeling the happiness or pain. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighborhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. The Indian flag is a tricolor standard, with bands of saffron, white, and dark green. The saffron represents courage, sacrifice, patriotism, and renunciation. It is also the color of the Hindu people. The green stands for faith, fertility and the land, and it is the color of the Islam religion. The white is in the center, symbolizing the hope for unity and peace. In the center of the white band is a blue wheel with 24 spokes. This is the Ashoka Chakra which means the “wheel of law”. The Chakra represents the continuing progress of the nation and the importance of justice in life (Rosalind O, Hanlon, 1994). In India dance is considered to be divine in origin. The gods and goddesses not only take great delight in dance, drama and mime but many are great dancers themselves. “The dances of Kali, the dark fierce goddess of destruction, are very significant. Urvasi, Maneka, Rambha are well versed in the art of music and dancing. In India, dance and music pervade all aspects of life and bring color, joy and gaiety to a number of festivals and ceremonies. Dance is a form of communication that brings out the innermost feelings and at the sane time depicts the cultural aspect of a civilization” (Rosalind O, Hanlon, P 3). India classical dances are dances of the mind and soul and are extremely traditional. A number of faiths and religions have merged in India and exist simultaneously. India is a country with unity in diversity. This divisiveness in culture makes India a unique country in the world with a lot of different customs and traditions. Traditions and rituals in India have become an integral part of everyday life. Right from birth to death Indians keep performing various customs and traditions. Almost every occasion in India like birth, engagement, marriage, death and so on has a ceremony attached to it.For example, soon after the birth of a child, a ceremony for naming the child takes place. A priest tells the first alphabet from which the name of the child should start. Another example is when Indians prostrate before their parents, elders and teachers by touching their feet. The elders in turn place their hand on prostrating person’s head and bless him or her. In addition the prohibition of pig consumption in Indian is very well known. The Muslim bible says that pork is prohibited in their religion (Mohammad Chauhdry, 2008).Consumption of pork causes many diseases and is one of the filthiest animals on earth. It lives and thrives on muck faces and dirt. Pigs even eat their own waste as well as their neighbors. Almost all Indian women pierce their nose and its significance is more during marriage. The ornament worn by women on there nose carries a lot of sexual significance. The red dots on the fore head of an Indian women shows that she is married. This Red dot called ‘bindi’ is on almost all Hindu Indian women’s forehead. Dark Eyes, long black hair are two things that are considered as attraction as well (Mohammad Chauhdry, 2008). There are many communication styles in Indian that include interpersonal communication styles, nonverbal communication, child and parent interaction, and also parents interacting with their children’s teacher. Unless you are living in a cave or have become a cloistered monk, you interact with others everyday. Even if you work at home in front of a glowing computer screen, you encounter other people in the course of living your life. The opportunities for interpersonal communication are everywhere, and it is through inescapable interpersonal communication with others that we affect and are affected by other human beings. For many of us, friendships are vital to our personal wellbeing. By improving our interpersonal communication skills, we can learn how to improve our friendships, relationships with families, relationships with colleagues etc. We express our emotions verbally and nonverbally, yet our nonverbal messages often communicate our emotions more honestly.We sometimes explicitly tell people how we are feeling; however it is often through our nonverbal expressions like facial expressions, tone of voice, or body posture that our true feelings are communicated to others. As a teacher for example, you may sense that one of your students in your 3rd grade class named Katelyn is upset. Even though Katelyn does not tell you she is angry, you can sense her mood by observing her grimacing facial expressions and lack of direct eye contact with you. To help lighten up the mood, you tell her a joke. Interpreting others nonverbal messages help us appropriately adapt our communication as we interact with them. Most Indians make direct eye contact during conversation. It is not acceptable to touch someone during conversation unless you know the person very well. For example an older person could take offense if you touch him or her because you are not Hindu, or if you are a man, a woman would feel very uncomfortable and think you are making a pass at her. During most social gatherings men and women tend to stay clustered in their own groups. Pointing a finger at someone would be considered rude. For example in India if you need to get attention of the waiter in a restaurant make eye contact or try to gesture him with your right hand with your palm facing down and moving your fingers towards yourself. For children it is not appropriate for them to display themselves verbally in the presence of adults. In addition it is also appropriate for children to watch and listen quietly by age three and four, and to learn from what they have heard and observed, rather than asking a lot of questions (Arnold M., Rose (2008). It is also rude to ask direct personal questions, especially when you have just met someone and to gaze directly at someone the whole time they are speaking. It is not difficult to see how problems could arise between non native people and those. Misunderstandings in interpersonal communication will result if such communication styles and the unconscious assumptions and values behind them are not held in common or at least mutually understood (Mohammad Chauhdry 2008). I believe that significant elements in their culture that a teacher should be aware of before teaching a student from this culture are that eating pigs is prohibited in their religion because Indians believe that pigs carry diseases and may be harmful for a persons health. Another thing would be that teacher should be aware of the fact that they do dress differently and follow different religions with very different beliefs and they should be careful in the way they teach to not offend the students from this culture. Teacher being knowledgeable about their students’ cultures can help them understand them more in a personal level and can also be very effective when interacting with students. Between 3-5th grade, communication between students and their teachers take a really big part in the classroom, and it seems that it’s almost impossible not to come up with some sort of stereotypical characteristic of a group of people when talking about them and their culture. Countries, for example, are usually known for one of their traditional customs or another peculiar cultural aspect. However, we must understand that people are different and they have different beliefs and lifestyles, even those who come from the same sociocultural backgrounds. Indian culture is rich and diverse and, as a result, unique in its very own way. Our manners, way of communicating with one another, are one of the important components of our culture. Even though we have accepted modern means of living, improved our lifestyle, our values and beliefs still remain unchanged. A person can change his way of clothing, way of eating and living but our rich values always remain unchanged because they are deeply rooted within our hearts, mind, body and soul which we receive from our culture.ReferenceArnold M., Rose (2008). Hindu Values and Indian Social Problems. Sociological Quarterly . 8:3 , 11(Mohammand Chaudry , personal communication, April 18, 2008)Rosalind O, Hanlon, (1994). Histories in Transition: Approaches to the Study ofColonialism and Culture in India. History Workshop . 32, 18.Note: Tayjey Clairbone is the communication director of multicultural marketing firm based in New Delhi. She wrote this piece specifically for CSMS Magazine. Also see Make our society a better place What we need to teach our ESOL students about Nonverbal communicationIndian Culture: Vibrant and thought-provokingRole of alternative languages in our society
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