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A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

india, land of contrasts

Wouldn't it be cool if this was a travelogue of India? Yeah it isn't as I have never been to India. This post is all informative and nerdy, facts behind the many contrasts of India.

Home to a billion, give or take, manythink of India as sari clad call center women and engineer men in turbans, speaking Hindi and going to Hindu temples. But it is more than that. Over a decade ago, in college, I worked in an anthropology lab, archiving things. I found a magazine that mentioned a tribe in India and while I knew India was more than Hindus and Hindi, i hadn't a clue they had tribes and rare languages. Being the curious nerd I still am, I googled the tribe and learned India had tons of tribes, cultures, languagesmmmwho knew?!?! I embarked on a reseaech trail which ended up warping into an independent study mini thesis on Indian immigrants and their experiences in America. But the whole tribal thing kind of hid in the background. Some tribes are very "tribal" and others are woven into regular society, barely indistinguishable.

Now for some facts. Sure, a lot of Indians speak Hindi and to some extent, English. There are 22 official languages of India and each state is free to choose its own official language whether it is one of the 22 or not. 22, think of that. Sure, America being a melting pot has tons of languages but everything is kind of...English. in India you can hear two completely different languages while standing in line or whatever. You can see many different alphabets written on signs. You could easily end up somewhere, near home, where you do not understand a single written ir spoken word. Sure, about 40% of Indians understand some Hindi but...13 million speak Assamese, 83 million speak Bengali, 1.4 speak Bodo ,a language I never knew of; the population of New Hampshire or Estonia. Even more astonishing is the Bhojpuri language with 33 million speakers, that is the population of Morocco...but have you heard of Bhojpuri? A new language was discovered in just 2008' Koro. Granted there are only about 2,000 speakers but isn't it interesting that we just discovered a language? Researchers believe there are between 415 and 780 languages in India; some have their very own culture associated with them; many are among the tribes of India which make up about 8% of the population.

Religions in India are numerous as well, 80% are Hindu but 13% are Muslim, so that is over 100 million! Less in number are Jainism and Bahai, and tribal religions like Santhal.

So just think...India, too, is a melting pot.

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