Delhi is a land of different cultures, which is evident in various fields like art, history, music, food, lifestyle, demography, crafts and the like. This is the place where people of different cultures co-exist in great symphony and various cultural events are hosted at the venues of the city all through the year.
The best part of Delhi is that it doesn’t have an identity of its own. It is a confluence of different religions, languages, culture and lifestyle, which is indeed a great quality. People from different states have settled in Delhi for years together now. This is probably the primary reason as to why we see a diverse range of cultural styles in the city today. It cannot be denied that being the national capital, Delhi does possess some importance when it comes to political matters. However in terms of culture, people recognise Delhi only through its diversity. Having said all this, we should also give credit to the city for having such a rich history and tradition to be taken forward.
If there is one place that can be described as a perfect amalgamation of traditional and modern cultures, it is Delhi. On one side of the city, we find old mosques, Mughal structures, monuments and other buildings, whereas, on the other side, we find many clubs and night out centres. The sound of the Namaz and Qawwalis from the mosques reverberate around the city, along with the Kirtan songs from the Gurudwaras and the temple aartis from the Chattarpur Mandir. Along with these, the loud and blaring music from the pubs too cannot be ignored.
Since people of different states consider Delhi as their home, all fairs and festivals are celebrated in Delhi with great pomp and splendour. Durga Puja, Chhat Puja and Lohri are celebrated in the same grand manner as they are done in their origin states of West Bengal, Bihar and Punjab respectively. Since Delhi is surrounded by states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on all sides, the cultures of these states dominate the culture of Delhi. Along with all these, historic monuments in Old Delhi too add to the charm of the place.
The culture of Delhi is evident mainly from its monuments, mosques and temples. Jama Masjid in its Indo Persian style, Birla Temple with its North Indian style and Chattarupur Temple with its South Indian style of architecture patterns are some of the examples of the diverse buildings in the city today. Other primary places of worship in Delhi are Sheesh Ganj, Bangla Sahib, Gurudwara RaquabGanj, St. Thomas Church, St. Columbus Church, Bahai Lotus Temple (Bahai community temple with splendid architecture) etc. In addition to all this, Jains and Buddhists too have their shrines constructed in Delhi. A part of Delhi also has Tibetan monasteries which explain the Tibetan culture too in Delhi. These are just few examples where we see people of different communities co-existing in perfect harmony with each other and still have their unique styles.
Arts and crafts were at their best form during the Mughal period. Almost all the Mughal rulers respected art and crafts to a great extent, which was the main reason as to why Persian artists were employed in the royal courts to weave carpets and craft metals for royal use. It was under the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar that Mughal art started flourishing to great extents and this was further carried over by subsequent rulers.
Almost all the galleries in Delhi contain rich collections of art and craft pieces, as live examples of the rich history of Delhi. Some of the places where you can witness great pieces of work from talented artists are Lalit Kala Academy (inspired from studio designs prevalent in Paris), Sanskriti Kendra and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Many people visit these studios to get introduced to exquisite collections. Artists exhibit their work in places called lodgings inside these studios (local dialect – Garhis).
Some of the prominent art galleries in Delhi are
Dhoomi Mal Art Centre, Khirkee Gallery, LGT Gallery, Gallery Romain Rolland, Vadhera Art Gallery, Art Heritage, Sridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Art Gallery, AIFACS, Village Gallery and the Max Mueler Photo Gallery.
Delhi was the hub of craft works during the early years. Even today, many craftsmen have their base at Delhi and they focus on intricate gold and silver thread work, Zari work and the like.
Pot making, kite making, wooden toy making and other crafts have been flouring in Delhi for many years now. Any part of Delhi plays valuable tribute to craftsmanship, especially the areas around Old Delhi. There are lots of shops around Delhi that sell exquisite handicraft items and craft works done by talented craftsmen. Some places where you can find the best handicraft items in the country are Delhi Haat, Crafts Museum (Pragati Maidan) and many state-authorised emporiums at Baba Khadak Singh Marg.
Dance and Music
Delhi is the place to be if you are a music lover. Even the rarest music connoisseur will find Delhi to be a haven as there are lots of music festivals going on here. All kinds of music – Carnatic classical, Hindustani Classical, Western, Western Classical, Ghazals etc. are given equal importance in Delhi. Many talented musicians from across India and foreign countries come to Delhi to showcase their talents. These festivals attract thousands of people to Delhi. Details and updates about these festivals and cultural events are available in all the local publications on a daily basis.
These music and dance performances are mostly held in places like Sri Ram Centre, Siri Fort Auditorium, Chamber Theatre (Triveni Kala Sangamam), Kamani Auditorium, FICCI Auditorium, India International Centre, LTG Auditorium and centres in Pragati Maidan.
For the fun loving youth of today, 32nd Milestone, located on the highway connecting Delhi with Jaipur is a must-visit place. The place has vibrant interiors and spacious dance floors where you can shake a leg up until the late hours of night.
There are many kinds of cuisine available in Delhi because, people of various communities have settled here. Punjabi cuisine is the most predominant cuisine available in Delhi; however, lots of other styles too are available at all places in Delhi. This is the unique trademark of Delhi. You can get all kinds of cuisine here to satisfy your diverse taste buds.
Citizens of Delhi are very friendly. They are always ready to help and have a pleasant attitude towards life. Guests are always treated with due respect and courtesy by the Delhi citizens. There are lots of cultures and languages co-existing in Delhi and this makes the city very colourful and diverse. The positive attitude of people here is indeed contagious for guests coming here in large numbers.
People from all over the country have settled in Delhi for many years now. Therefore, there are many religions found here, existing in perfect peace. Though Hinduism is the most common religion here, there are also lots of Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Muslims spread all over Delhi. You name any religion in the country and you will find it here.
Performing Arts in Delhi
Many festivals are conducted in the capital city to glorify performing arts. These are attended by common people and by art connoisseurs.
There is a particular gharana (music family) belonging to Delhi style in the Hindustani classical music category.
The months of February and March are eagerly looked forward to, by music lovers because this is the time when the Shankarlal, Dhruped and Tansen Music festivals are conducted. In Delhi, you can find equal importance being given to the South Indian Carnatic Classical music and the North Indian Hindustani Classical music categories. Vishnu Digamber, in August, is yet another reputed music festival. Many reputed dancers like Uma Sharma, Birju Maharaj and Yamini Krishnamoorthy live in Delhi.
During October, the Qutub Festival is conducted in Delhi, right in the premises of the famous Qutub Minar. The monument is completely illuminated during this time and many music festivals are conducted during this time of the year at this venue. During January, National Film Festival and the Bi-Annual International Film Festivals are conducted in Delhi. Some of the active and buzzling venues during these shows and events are National School of Drama (translations of various foreign plays are performed here), FICCI Auditorium, Sri Ram Centre, Siri Fort Auditorium, LTG Auditorium, Chamber Theatre, Kamani Auditorium, India International Centre and all centres at Pragati Maidan.
Mughal Miniature Paintings
It was during the Mughal Rule that art and crafts reached phenomenal heights of glory in Delhi. They had excellent taste and constructed awesome monuments in and around Delhi during their rule. Miniature paintings in Mughal style are highly popular and these were found in all the monuments that were constructed during the rule of Mughal dynasty. It was because of the Mughal rulers that Delhi became a hub of Islamic culture, architecture, arts and crafts. Today, all these elements have become important ingredients in the culture of Delhi.
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