Kesariya Baalam, Padharo Mhare des! (Welcome to my land!): India

By Mahima Rana of All rights reserved by

A land of beautiful traditions dividing the regions, yet uniting the nation. A plethora of colours, so vibrant and majestic. A combination of all odds and ends, of the rich and poor, of pleasing sites and dirty slums, of salwar kameez and short skirts, of slum dogs and millionaires.

Ladies and Gentlemen! Let the drumroll begin! I present to you the various shades of Mera Hindustaan- India!

With its vibrancy and allure, India has always been a land of mysteries and fascination for all. The cultural diversity reflects the rich history of the past. From the River Civilizations to the Maharajas of various Ruling Dynasties to the powerful Mughuls, from the British Raj to the Fight for freedom, India has had a bumpy ride and varied experiences to become the largest democracy in the world.

From the frozen Himalays in the North, to the mesmerizing greenery of Kerala in the South, the land of Kutch in Gujarat in the West, to the tribes of Northeastern states, India is also expansive. Travelling India, one can expect some great spectacles and experiences. Let me take you on a quick tour.

With the coaches at the verge of bursting with people, hanging dangerously at the open doors, the local Mumbai trains are an experience. People of all social classes travel via this Mumbai lifeline. Crossing the state borders, you’ll find a Gomata (holy cow) with her calf sitting coolly right in the middle of hustling traffic. Now you may look at the crowd besides you. It is interesting to note how people survive and thrive through the crowded places. The tool- sharp elbows! pushing their way through the bustling bazaars, metro stations and other public places, it is a must in order to survive a day out in any place in India. A mixture of traditions so different and spread far and wide, one can have an experience of the loud and hearty Punjabis in the North, the soft spoken and simple Malyalis in the South, the metropolitan crowd along with the people of old Delhi in Chandi Chowk, the traditionally clad Rajasthanis, hippies in Goa, the tribals in Chattisgarh… the list is inexhaustive!

People visiting India have a fetish for dressing up in traditional attire- Cotton kurtas and pyajamas, lehnga cholis, salwar kameez- which also makes it easy to roam about in the sweltering heat. Lunch time folks! Every region has a completely different taste of its own. Ranging from Rajasthan’s Laal maas to Gujraati treat of tangy and sweet Dhokla and khakhra, Punjab’s mouth watering Sarson da saag and Roti with butter so white it’ll make you drool like a hungry baby. How can one miss the spicy chaat bhandaars at road corners? Turn around and you will encounter some random guy asking you “You are from outside, eh, outside India?” The question every tourist has to face at least once (or thrice, or maybe more!). “You are not an Indian, right?” Credit Atithi Devo Bahava! (Guest is God).

Moving ahead one gets to see someone spitting along the roadside, garbage dumped in front of “Do Not Litter” hoardings, people urinating and defecating in the open, a shock one will encounter a lot of times. Evening time and you will get to hear the bells chiming along with the holy chanting in the Temples. The hypnotic and soothing chants and aartis will bring peace to the rambling minds and hearts. Prayers at Ganga Ghat are indigenous to this Holy land and an experience worth it.

Phew! That was indeed a speedy ride, wasn’t it! With a population over a billion and the economy still developing, India is a land of enchantment, mystery, travel, food, monuments, site seeing, variations and similarities of casts and cultures. Expect to be enthralled by the shy smiles of ladies covering their faces, the large hearted welcome by the crowds, the surprised and amused looks from the strangers and the unforgettable experience of a completely different world like no other.

Padharo Mhare des! (Welcome to my land!)

The views presented in the article are of the author and may not be of Tonight at Dawn.

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