3. The Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher Festival) is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in
4. Many Indians find toilet paper repellent and consider it cleaner to splash water with the left hand in the appropriate direction. Consequently, the left hand is considered unclean and is never used for eating.
5. To avoid polluting the elements (fire, earth, water, air), followers of Zoroastrianism in India don’t bury their dead, but instead leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence” for the vultures to pick clean. After the bones dry, they are swept into a central well.
6. It is illegal to take Indian currency (rupees) out of India.
9. More than a million Indians are millionaires, yet most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. An estimated 35% of
10. Cows can be found freely wandering the streets of
11. Dancing is one of
12. Rabies is endemic in
13. Many Indian wives will never say her husband’s name aloud, as it is a sign of disrespect. When addressing him, the wife will use several indirect references, such as “ji” or “look here” or “hello,” or even refer to him as the father of her child.
14. A widow is considered bad luck—otherwise, her husband wouldn’t have died. Elderly women in the village might call a widow “the one who ate her husband.” In some orthodox families, widows are not allowed near newlyweds or welcomed at social gatherings.
16. The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when
17. The temples of Khajuraho are famous for their erotic sculptures and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in
18. The earliest cotton in the world was spun and woven in
19. In ancient and medieval
20. The Himalayas—from the Sanskrit hima, meaning “snow,” and alaya, meaning “abode”—are found in the north of
23. With 150,000 post offices,
25. The Bengal tiger is
26. Indians hold prominent places both internationally and in the
27. Alexander the Great of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) was one of the first important figures to bring
28. The British Raj, or British rule, lasted from 1858 to 1947 (although they had a strong presence in
29. Every major world religion is represented in
30. About 80% of Indians are Hindu. Muslims are the largest minority in
32. Mumbai (
33. Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is known around the world as Mahatma, which is an honorific title meaning “Great Soul” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He devoted his life to free
34. The lotus is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. The Bahá'í house of worship in
35. The banyan, or Indian fig tree, is considered a symbol of immortality and is mentioned in many Indian myths and legends. This self-renewing plant is
36. Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness.
37. The official name of
38. Introduced by the British, cricket is
39. Indians made significant contributions to calculus, trigonometry, and algebra. The decimal system was invented in
40. The national fruit of
41. Most historians agree that the first recorded account of plastic surgery is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts.
42. Hindi and English are the official languages of
45. Rivers have played a vital role in
46. Raziya Sultana (1205-1240) was the first woman leader of
47. Most Indians rinse their hands, legs, and face before eating a meal. It is considered polite to eat with the right hand, and women eat after everyone is finished. Wasting food is considered a sin.
48. During the Vedic era in
49. It is traditional to wear white, not black, to a funeral in
50. All of
52. In recent years, Indian authors have made a mark on the world with such novels as Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), Vikram Seth’s Suitable Boy (1993), and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997).
55. The Taj Mahal (“crown palace”) was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). This architectural beauty has been called “marbled embroidery” for its intricate workmanship. It took 22,000 workmen 22 years to complete it.
56. The first and greatest civilization in ancient
57. After the great Indus Civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C., groups of Indo-Europeans called Aryans (“noble ones”) traveled to northwest
58. Alexander the Great invaded
59. Greek sculpture strongly influenced many portrayals of Indian gods and goddess, particularly after the conquest of Alexander the Great around 330B.C. In fact, early Indian gods had Greek features and only later did distinct Indian styles emerge.
60. Chandragupta Maurya (340-290 B.C.), a leader in
61. When the first independent prime minister of