India, a country synonymous with diversity and fondly called Mother. Often times proving she is worthy of that name. But, that is a story to later meet.
Not so often have we heard the tag “cosmopolitan” referred to a state or two. A cosmopolitan city is where many cultures and customs live in harmony. If that is the case, why aren’t all 29 states called so? Or why isn’t the country ‘cosmopolitan.’ The answer lies in another synonym. Cosmopolitan is generally used to connote sophistication and urbanisation. But if wealth is measured in material, where is true value weighed?
Culture & customs, rites and rituals, festivals and folklore –29 unique. Our country celebrates over 80 vibrant festivals all year, round! Where each carries its own story; be it the food, the clothing, season and reason. In Assam, the festival Bhekuliya Biya–the marriage of frogs is made extravagant to welcome bounty rain. In the month of October comes Diwali where the entire country lights up, skies, homes, roads, the rich and the poor. No matter what the plight of people may be, for at least 80 days in a year, someone somewhere will truly be happy. Which is more than most countries can say.
Reminisce back to when India was a thriving young lady, exceedingly beautiful, adorned with exquisite jewelry from the Mughals and draped by the finest cloth from the Rajputs. Any man would fall prey at just a glance. Then came along a tall, fair and devious man; He turned her bangles into shackles and then woke the true spirit of India. Her red drapes now bled through the land. Battles, protests and injustices later at the stroke of midnight when the world slept, India awoke to life and freedom.
Ever since then, she began to live for her people and them for her. What quickly followed was recognition. A magnet to souls with passion in their hearts. White marble that houses love, palaces with windows more than one can dream, magnificent temples carved out of single stone, arrays of Daedalian stone carvings and delicate calligraphy. Furthermore, just as how her residents have created such marvels so has her soil.
Distinct and bounteous is her landscape, picturesque and disastrous. She cradles the macrocosm of nature in her lap. To the North –Himalayas whose peaks pierce the sky, cold and icy yet the sunrise at Kailash brings wafts of warmth and to its East spreads the vast Tethyan oceanic crust accompanied by ranges of hills. To the East and South lay Chota Nagpur, Deccan and the twin Ghats whose bodies are blessed with resources and minerals that have replenished the land since time immemorial. Down South are the two archipelagos; being a peninsula, she is enshrouded by the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Of course, one of her crown jewels, God’s own country sits blooming and basking under the Indian sun.
Intricate rivers that slice through the earth, turning land fertile from glacier to see – Midas’ touch. They are home to a plethora of birds and animals. Mangroves and lush forests serve as the horn of plenty, where the Bengal tiger claims kingdom. Rare pink dolphins frolic and frisk in the Ganges. Gaurs, great elephants and regal rhinos rule in harmony. The abundant fauna that graces the country is not just a part of her land but a blessing.
Beasts and beauty, flora and fauna albeit profuse and plenty, the real taste of India is no doubt in the food. A variety of spices, palates, textures and more; what starts in Kashmir with Rogan Josh, moving East to Assamese Laksa, the sweetest Rasagulla in Bengal, to the left we cross over Maharastra’s savoury Vadapav with a side of Dhokla and Kachoris in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Down south seductively soaked in sugar syrup, Jalebis from Lucknow paired with the infamous Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, the rich – ghee overloaded Pongal from Tamil Nadu and finally finish it off with a warm sumptuous Payasam from Kerala. These are but a few from the 29 ravishing thalis India has to serve.
Lastly, coming back to where we started, cosmopolitan–the aforementioned segments are only a glimpse of India’s vibrancy yet reads exuberant to the mind’s eye. Our country is an oxymoron in itself; the most bustling city, scattered with famous celebrities is also home to one of the world’s largest slums. When the country faces drought on one end, the other sees floods or heavy downpour. Nonetheless, she still holds lead in every aspect around the world; her people have conquered continents, marking their identity. Therefore, cosmopolitan befits India the best as she is not just home to the Kohinoor but heart to the world’s noor.
Every citizen, every being and every soul holds wisps of India’s breath and breeze. This country, this land of true riches, stands as an opulent crown jewel. She is a country that stands true to the adjective INCREDIBLE; she exudes incredibility in every grain of soil, after all, they have been nourished with her very own blood, sweat and tears.
The author, MS Reeha,is a teenager residing in Sharjah with her family.
Author’s Note: Greetings, a humble word to my reader with a keen eye, if you happen to notice each paragraph begins with a certain letter, which altogether spells out incredible, I know no better way than to express the profuse love and pride I take in calling myself an Indian –hence a small tribute of admiration to my country
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