It is only when we understand the differences and similarities between the cultures of the two nations; we can better understand why people behave as they normally do. In the below paragraphs, the essay tries to examine the contrasts and similarities
People respond to colors in different ways and this greatly has to do with the cultural backgrounds they are from. In the American culture, black signifies death and mourning. Worn mainly due to the weather conditions, it also refers to formality and sophistication that reflects in dressing. However in the Indian culture, black signifies mourning, evil influences and penance. In certain cultures, completely black attires are worn by men for a chosen number of days in form of penance. White in the US signifies purity and life. However in India, the meanings are contradictory and white suggests peace, marriage and mourning all at once. In Southern part of India, women wear traditional white saris on the day of the wedding. In times of someone's death, white is also seen to be worn by widows. Blue color refers to trust and stability in American culture while in India it refers to calmness.
Besides individual colors, combinations also have diverse meanings in the two religions. Red, white and blue remind Americans of the native flag and convey patriotism while in India the same patriotism comes through saffron, white and green (colors of the Indian national flag). The colors red and green represent prosperity and marriage in India and refer to Christmas in America. Red and yellow are considered auspicious in India as they represent kumkum2 and turmeric, two ingredients imperative for every Indian wedding. However in America, colors of red, orange and yellow signify warmth and thanksgiving.
The freedom of religion is seen to be prevalent and a common point between the diverse cultures of India and America. In India, the major religious communities include Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. Among all religions, Hinduism is most prevalent as the 'religion of India' (Ellwood, 1992) with its origin dating to over 4000 years ago. Over 672.6 million people in India are Hindus and they believe in 330 million different Gods, Goddesses and incarnations. Thousands of beautiful temples have been constructed for these Gods and each day of the week is dedicated to a special God. Mosques, churches and gurudwaras (holy places for Sikhs) coexist in all cities and people from different religions go to their respective places of worship. In India religion plays an important role for many people in taking decisions about their personal lives, professional lives, and even food habits. For example, in many parts of South India, families do not eat onion and garlic, as their religion dominates so. While in certain fasts certain food items and vegetables are avoided, there are various seasons where certain food items are considered to be good for consumption. Yagnas3 are a popular means to appease the Gods and are conducted for varied purposes like for getting rain during drought, attaining prosperity or for winning a cricket match. While no specific religion is imposed on people, many follow the religion of their forefathers. In many cases people are seen to convert to another religion (usually from Hinduism to