Find Out 2008

Let’s Find Out About India

Did you know that India is thirteen times bigger than the UK ? And over one billion people live in this huge country, speaking 15 different languages. The national language is Hindi. It is spoken by about 45 per cent of the population.

The two main religions are Hinduism and Islam.

This is The National Flag of India.

Each part of the flag has a special meaning:
  • The orange stripe represents the Hindus of India
  • The green stripe represents the Muslims of India
  • The white stripe represents the hope they can live in peace together.

Some important facts to learn:
  • India is the seventh largest country in the world. 
  • India 's population is one billion making it the second most populated country in the world after China.
  • India is located in Southern Asia and lies between Pakistan , China and Nepal .
  • The capital of India is New Delhi . The country’s largest cities are Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi , and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

What is it like to live in a village in India ? Let’s find out.

A Traditional street scene in a rural village.

A typical village house. Notice the wattle and daub walls and thatched roof.

In India , families tend to live together in large extended family groups, often with grandparents living alongside the family.

People enjoy living in a close, friendly community. They look after each other if they are very young, very old or ill.

There is very little crime. It's safe for children to play outside and there is plenty of space too.

Families often grow their own food and don't have to spend much money.

…But there are some problems:

Some villages are cut off from other towns and villages. Country roads are not well looked after. Buses and trains don't go to many out-of-the-way villages.

There are hardly any jobs in the village, so young people often leave to work in towns or cities. Many families living in the countryside are very poor.

Many villages have no running water or electricity. Water often has to be collected from nearby wells, rivers and streams and then carried back to the village.

Some remote rural villages do not have water sources nearby and it becomes the job of the women and children to fetch the drinking water for the family. Sometimes this can become a 2 to 4 kilometre walk every day to fetch clean drinking water from wells.

Collecting water from nearby rivers for washing.

Clean drinking water is fetched from nearby wells and carried home by the women and children often walking many kilometres.

The main food crop is wheat, which is mixed with oil and water to make chapattis. Chapattis are like flat pieces of bread, baked in clay ovens.

Lentils are an important part of the diet. Here, the lentils are being cleaned. Then they are ready to be cooked into a dhal (a kind of soup made from lentils and beans).

Along with a lot of different spices, coconut milk is an important ingredient in many dishes in South India .

Seven out of ten people in the northeast of India make a living from farming. They grow food to feed their families and to sell for cash.

The most important crop grown for money is tea. The northeast region of India produces more tea than any other. The hills of the northeast are perfect for growing tea.

India has one of one of the world's mightiest mountain ranges called the Himalayas . The Himalayas stretch for 2,400 km across the north of India .

High in the Himalayas , the climate is very harsh. For every thousand metres you go up, the temperature falls by an average of 6.5°C. Think how cold it would be in these mountains! Also, there is less oxygen in the air up here … if you are not used to it, the thin air makes it more difficult to breathe.

In the hills and valleys lower down, it is a different story. Here, the temperatures are warmer and the monsoons(strong winds) make a big difference. The monsoons are actually winds that carry lots of moisture picked up from the ocean. When they blow across the region between June and September they bring lots and lots of rain with them.

Trying to keep dry during the monsoon season.

Traditional Indian Clothing:

The sari is one of the most common and oldest forms of dress for women in India It is made of 6 metres of fabric, usually either silk or cotton that is wrapped to form a skirt and then draped over the shoulder. Saris can be a solid colour or patterned; some are embroidered or hand dyed. Others are covered in tiny mirrors or metallic decoration.

Men today usually wear a cotton tailored shirt and western style pants. Depending on their job, they may wear suits to work as well. But men's traditional clothing is as interesting and detailed as women. It is still regularly worn in smaller towns and rural areas. The dhoti is a piece of cloth wrapped around the legs and tucked into the waist to form pants. It is usually white and worn during religious ceremonies.

Another choice is the kurta and chudidaar.It is made of stitched pants in silk or cotton that are gathered at the ankle (chudidaar) and a long, straight tunic( kurta).

National Symbols of India

The tiger is regarded as India ’s National animal. It is also called the royal Bengal Tiger.

The National bird of India is the peacock. Peacocks are often used in Indian myths and folk tales.

The National flower of India is the Lotus flower. It represents long life, honour and good fortune.

Indian Festivals – Diwali

What is Diwali?

Diwali is perhaps the most well known of all Indian festivals. It is known as the festival of lights and celebrates the New Year. It is India ’s most important holiday. It is a 5 day celebration. The fourth day of Diwali is the New Year. The festival of lights is held in honour of Lakshmi (pictured above) the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus pray to her to bring them luck in the coming year.

Why is it called the festival of lights?

The world Diwali means rows of lighted lamps. People light lots of small oil lamps around their home, in courtyards, gardens and place on rooftops .Hindus believe that the more lamps they light the more likely it is the goddess Lakshmi will be temped to visit them and bring them good luck and wealth in the coming year.