South Asia is home to many intriguing traditions and customs. It is hard to find a more diverse place with so many unique festivals and celebrations. Examples of this include Makha Bucha Day in Thailand and Independence Day in India. There are also many traditions and practices unique to the region. In some areas, it may be considered disrespectful to use the left hand for social tasks, or in some areas you may find women covering their faces and showing modesty. Things such are tips are less common then in the West. People in some areas may even find it strange if you say ‘thank you’, as they often prefer a certain grace, attitude, and quiet gratitude.
Read below to learn more about South Asian history & culture.
Afghanistan used to be a common entry way into India. They have a very diverse culture and mainly practice Islam. They have two official languages including Dari and Pashto. They are also home of the oldest oil painting in the world. They gained independence from Britain in 1919 after several Anglo-Afghan wars which began in 1839.
Bhutan has a long and complicated history. For quite a while it was a feudal war-zone. The area was unified by 1907 by King Ugyen Wangchuck. Despite Britain exerting authority over Bhutan’s sovereignty, they never officially colonized the region. Bhutan was offered the chance to join the Indian Union but they chose to remain independent in 1949.
One of the first civilizations in India was in the Indus Valley region from 2600 to 2000 B.C. Aryans entered India in about 1500 B.C. and found that the land was already inhabited. India was another victim of British colonization. It wasn’t until 1947 that India finally gained independence. Many languages are spoken in India including Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Urdu, English, and many other languages.
It is believed the Maldives was first inhabited by Buddhist immigrants from India and Sri Lanka (also known as Ceylon) in the 5th century. They became a British colony in 1887 but later received their independence in 1965 after signing a landmark agreement with the British. People in the Maldives speak Dhivehi and English.
The first inhabitants of Nepal arrived about 6th century B.C. Early settlers of Nepal in the 12th century seemed to hold similar ideals with India adopted much of their culture, including the Hindu religion. The kingdom of Nepal was unified in 1768 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. Despite this, British controlled Nepal as well, and their independence was not recognized until 1923.
Much of Pakistan was also considered a part of the Indus Valley region. The area was controlled for several thousand years by a variety of groups, such as the Arabs, Aryans, Greeks, Persians,Turks, and others as well. Although the region became part of the Mogul Empire in 1526, Britain took control of Pakistan in 1856. It wasn’t until 1947 that Britain finally decided to allow Pakistan independence.
Sri Lanka was first inhabited by Indo-Aryan immigrants from India. These people were called the Sinhalese and they remain the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka even today. Another immigrant group, the Tamils, arrived somewhere between 3rd century B.C. and 1200 A.D. These two groups eventually fought between each-other for control of the land (which as known as Ceylon at this time) but neither side really managed to take hold. The Portuguese gained control in 1505 and later relinquished control to the Dutch India Company. By 1796, the Britain colonized Sri Lanka and they became an official colony. They were granted independence in 1948 and later changed their name, in 1972, to Sri Lanka. People in Sri lanka speak Sinhala, Tamil, and English.
South Asia is a very large region with one of the most diverse cultures in the world. Other diverse groups include the Dravidians, who speak Dravidian and live primarily in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The Bengali, who live in the area between India and Bangladesh and the Bhutanese who practice primarily Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. Due to there being so many ethnic groups in South Asia, it is sometimes hard to communicate but most of them seem to enjoy the diversity and wide range of culture.