Syncretism

On the composite culture of India

Print edition : January 17, 2020

The Mehtab Bagh was the last of 11 gardens built by the Mughals along the Yamuna near the Taj Mahal in Agra. In the construction of the Taj Mahal, the brilliance of Central and West Asian engineering reached its pinnacle. Its garden, true to Central Asian aesthetics, added to its beauty. Photo: V.V. KRISHNAN

Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar performing at the Delhi Classical Music Festival in New Delhi. The composite roots of Hindustani music and the culture it is located in transcend any monocultural definition. Photo: The Hindu archives

A Bharatanatyam recital at Kalakshetra, Chennai, on December 28. While the colonial masters were forcing an administrative and political unity, the different cultural forms of regions and provinces began to find their expression in the invocation of excellence. It is here that a dance limited to temples, Bharatanatyam, became a centrepiece of reform and rejuvenation. Photo: M. Karunakaran

One of the most significant frames of India’s cultural aggregation has been the idea of a joint Hindu-Muslim syncretic culture. Indians learn new forms and new aesthetic sensibilities as they inhabit new cultural and political landscapes.
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