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India: Nothing Short of Incredible!

Mohamad Al-Arief's picture

You’ve seen those tourism ads: Incredible India. Since I first arrived in this country a month back, it’s been nothing short of incredible. India can fascinate and overwhelm you at the same time. It is incredible in many ways: its size, its development challenges, its diversity, and its rich cultural heritage.

Luckily for me, I have had the good fortune to experience the latter. India’s cultural heritage dates back thousands of years. And India has managed to preserve it while many others have failed. You don’t need to go deep into the hinterland to experience it. A drive through Delhi alone will take you through several phases of its history. And a four-hour drive out of the capital to Agra will take you back 400 years to the Mughal Empire. Everything is well preserved. And everyone seems to be passionate about preserving this heritage, as evident in the JIYO Exhibition that I’ve just attended.

In the five weeks I’ve been here, I’ve learned how my own culture in Indonesia has intertwined with its parent civilization here in India. Before Islam came to the Indonesian archipelago eight centuries ago, it was predominantly Hindu with vast cultural and economic ties with the sub-continent. A trip to the hinterland of Java will prove this very point. In Jogjakarta, many of the street signs are written in Sanskrit. Statues of Rama and Krishna are still present in many Indonesian cities. And the Borobudur Monastery in Central Java, with its stone carved façade depicting the Mahabharata, provided further proof of these strong ties.

This exposure to India made me think back about my own ancestry. At least I can now claim that there is a little piece of India within me.

Comments

Submitted by Rupes on
Good that you had the chance to see the better part of India in your 5 week stay. Luchk you. You visited India in the best time of the year, i.e., the spring time. But please believe me. When India bites, it bites you hard. Many authors who have written about India claim that, India had bitten them hard. The authors include, V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie and William Dalrymple (who went as a young back-packer to India and since then he could not leave India permanently. Instead, he stayed in Delhi permanently). Best, Rupes

Submitted by Sachin on
Loved this "When India bites, it bites you hard."! How true! And then it turns you into a romantic. Since Rupes mention William Darlymple, I'd suggest you pick up his book "Nine Lives" on your way back. Would give a little more of India.

Submitted by Raj Jani on
Want to tell you a bit more of JIYO, as I was instrumental in co-creating the brand, which is the brainchild of the doyen of living heritage in India-Mr. Rajiv Sethi. JIYO itself is an incredible concept as it speaks of the lively, brash and brand-new statement of the Indian sensibility, which is deep rooted in its rich legacy and colorful traditions. Age-old traditions depicted in crafts like Madhubani paintings, were catapulted into modern-day wall papers under a design-inspiration provided by the urbane product designers; and thus the transformed product became the basis for floating 'JIYO enterprise' in which Madhubani artists were at the forefront for reaping the fruits of commerce by staking their claim as primary shareholders. This new-age social enterprise has all the innovative elements for harvesting gains that can accrue by smartly addressing a niche-product-niche-market segment. Increasingly grassroot ventures like JIYO announce the arrival of a new design enterprise whose competitive edge comes from intertwining heritage and medernity in a creative manner to succeed in an otherwise overcrowded marketplace.

Submitted by ilhamdi on

Mr. Arief, can you share much about India? I think you have mauch experience but just tell a bit. I hope I can learn about India from your article deeply and spesially about live culture India when Islam came there. what something change because of Islam and what problem about muslim in India when the beginning Islam came there.
thanks a lot for your article

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