Culture of Delhi:
Delhi is one of the high-power ancient regions, which has regained and improved cultural beauty throughout history with different empires controlling it. Delhi has a chaotic asymmetric beauty. One side of Delhi is still with the ancient style architecture, old winding lanes, age-old markets, and traditional communities. This Old Delhi is still holding its traditional values whereas New Delhi is getting flourished with modernization. This diversity in culture makes Delhi, a most prominent tourist attraction.
More than 80% of the Delhi population speaks Hindi. The remaining population prefers Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, and others. Just like any other region of India, English is the most common foreign language preferred. Contrary to common belief, Hindi is not the national language of the land, but it is one of the official languages.
Hindi is not just one language. It is a colloquial amalgamation of numerous other languages of northern India. Hindi is a combination of Sanskrit, Urdu and other local languages. The vernacular Hindu took a stance during the reign of Mughals. However, the Hindi of Mughal reign is much different than the modern language as it got more vocabulary terms from Persian and other Hindustani regions. You can also find many words from Arabic vocabulary in Hindi.
In the past, Hinduism was one of the prime religions of this region. However, during the 12th century and later, the invaders from mid-western and mid-eastern countries started to invade India. Turkey, Persia and other country invaders tried to capture Delhi as it was the symbol of power during ancient times. Many religions managed to capture Delhi too. Qutub Minar was the first Islamic structure along with a mosque. The main aim of the mosque was to show the invasion of Islamic reign into India.
Since then, Islam has been another major ethnicity along with Hinduism. In terms of population, Hinduism ranks first followed by Islam, Sikhism and then Christianity. No matter how many religious communities are present in Delhi, there is harmony among this diversity. Temples, mosques, churches, and Gurudwara stand side by side and stay as one single community; Delhiites (colloquial term for people of Delhi).
Delhi shares border with Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Thus, the tradition and lifestyle of Delhi is very much influenced by the culture of these neighboring regions. Delhi has been a migration spot for those who looking for a better job or a better standard of living. Delhi is also very welcoming for these new communities, who brought in new traditions and rituals.
When it comes to religious traditions, the locals have held on to their religious values, practice their religion and celebrate festivals together. Many new pilgrimage sites are being developed by different communities. The traditional lifestyle of the local people has diminished a lot, due to the modernization. The advantage of this modernization is that it has reduced the difference among the communities. You can still find many families living up to their traditional values.
Hospitality is taught to younger generations from a very young age. Guests are considered next to God and serving with a smile is an age-old tradition still in the daily lifestyle of people. This hospitality is one of the many reasons why India has a unique identity among the world’s top tourism destinations.
Arts And Crafts:
Although architecture is not generally a part of the arts and crafts genre, it is important to take notes from the architectural diversity in the land. You can find Indo-Persian artworks in many ancient structures like Jama Masjid and others. Chattarpur temples, Birla temple, and others have a fusion of Southern temple architecture and ancient North India architecture. These amalgamations show that the art and crafts of Delhi has influence from every region of India and also from the invaders of neighboring countries.
Delhi has a civilization that backs to earlier 50 BC. Thus, the history of the land has given rise to many interesting arts and crafts including the ones adapted from neighboring cultures. The most iconic artwork of Delhi is making jewelry. Meenakari and Kundan Jewelries are still considered as an important souvenir and an heirloom in many families.
These methods of crafting were introduced from Lahore. Since ancient times, Delhi was an important place for ivory carving, kite making, and others. After the ban of procuring and/or sales of ivory, the artisans started to use bones of buffaloes to create artifacts.
Mughals were a fan of art and painting. Many art forms of Delhi were originated during the rule of Mughals. Textile embroidery is another famous artwork of the land. Top types of Delhi paintings are paper painting, miniature painting, manuscripts, marble paintings, and others. During the Mughal era, many authentic schools were erected to teach these skills.Some of these schools are still functioning. Tourists can also enroll in some of these schools for short term courses or workshops. Best of all the ancient styled paintings is the Mughal miniature style painting, which is famous among tourists as souvenirs.
Artworks on potteries and enameling works are the traditional craft of the land. The gold thread embroidery is another artwork from neighboring countries. It is called zari work. You can find such handicrafts in the markets of the land. In the past, rulers used to invite Persian artisans to their kingdom for weaving carpets for palaces and for crafting metal works. Today such artworks have become a part of Delhi culture and you can find souvenirs in many galleries and markets.
Delhi has an amalgamated cuisine, which revolves around dishes from Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and so on. Starting from International cuisine to Mughal cuisine you can find almost all kinds of food dishes here. Traditionally speaking, a mixture of ancient Indian and Mughal styled cuisine is now considered as authentic Delhi cuisine.Street foods make a major part of the cuisine of the land. Top street food of Delhi islassi, kebab, cholebhature, jalebis, falooda, samosa, butter chicken, Nihari, kulfi, and others. However, the iconic dish of Delhi is biriyani served in earthen pots.
Delhi streets are covered with stalls that sell refreshing drinks. Apart from branded carbonated water, you can find many authentic Delhi styled beverages. Top drinks to try here are flavored lassi, lemon soda (banta), jaljeera, wood apple sherbet (bel kasharbat) and flavored buttermilk.
The best way to try as many Delhi dishes as possible is by choosing Delhi thali. Thali is a very famous dish around the country. It is a combination of small amounts of numerous dishes served in small vessels, lined inside a large plate. You can find thalis with 9-25 dishes in it. You ought to visit authentic local restaurants to try vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali.
Traditionally, womenfolk wear salwar kameez or saree. The male population wearssherwani or kurta. However, today, all forms of modern styled attire are in use in Delhi. The traditional wear has decorations made with gold or silver thread. This style of decoration is called zardozi. This is found in high-end textiles. Apart from these, you can find clothing with mirror work, stone works, handprints, cutwork, and others. The traditional dress of the Delhi population has a link with Turko-Persian culture and Turko-Mongol culture. You can find several markets, shops and malls to buy traditional attire. If you wish to watch locals in traditional attire, visit any religious site or visit during festival times.
Dance and Music:
When it comes to performance arts, dance and music are major genres. Top traditional dance forms to enjoy in Delhi are Kathak, folk dance, Bhangra, and even Bharatanatyam. Top music forms of Delhi are Carnatic, Hindustani, ghazal and others. If you wish to enjoy the dance and music performances of Delhi, it is best to visit the land during any major local festivals. Apart from those festive moments, you can catch some shows in any major auditoriums around the city like Kamani auditorium, FICCI Auditorium, Sri Ram Center, LTG Auditorium, Siri Fort Auditorium, Triveni Kala Sangam and others. For dance performances, choose to visit any of the top dance clubs in Delhi. Most of the top class hotels have traditional dance performances as a treat for foreign visitors and dance lovers. Top hotels to pick for such events are Le Meridien, Park Hotel, Taj Palace, Hyatt Regency, Maurya Sheraton, and others.
If you are looking for modern dance and music, you can find many clubs and discotheques in and around Delhi. These clubs have a strict policy of allowing only couples who are more than 25 in age. ID proof with date of birth is very essential to get entry to these places. Some hotels also have such clubs to enjoy the night.
Fairs And Festivals:
As mentioned before, Delhi has communities from different regions of the country, who introduced many festivals and fairs into Delhi’s culture. Today, these festivals have become the basis of Delhi’s culture. Guru Purab was brought in by Sikhs, Bengalis introduced Durga Puja to Delhi and so on. Top festivals celebrated in Delhi are:
- Independence Day – 15th August
- Republic Day – 26th January
- Phoolkwalon –ki-Sair (festival of flowers) – Early October or late September
- Qutub Festival – November or December
- International Mango festival – July
- Diwali – October or November
- Holi – March
- Navaratri or Dusshera – September/ October