Over 70% of Indians still live in rural areas. Life has an unhurried pace in villages with families carrying on those traditions passed down over generations. Village homes and crafts change from region to region but some images are reflective of typical village life: children chasing cows down dusty lanes, women gathering around a well and cooking fires and the elderly resting on charpais (string cots) whilst exchanging old stories. Travelling musicians are a common sight, they play for money or for food in villages.
The huts in an Indian village are
usually made of mud and timber with a single house often being used to house
three or four generations of the same family. This creates a great sense of
psychological unity between family members and the fact that their houses are
self built shows the independence of Indians, just like
Indian families traditionally had a very clearly defined hierarchy of status that everyone was expected to accept: elders were above juniors, males outranked females, daughters of family commanded respect from brothersí wives and the mother of the household was in charge of her daughters-in-law.
Simple women cook outside and use basic metal or clay pots over a chulla (stove) constructed out of mud. Indian people are typically resourceful and often find ways to reuse items or make do with the best they have. Because of this they tend to value even some of the most trivial of items.
In many ways villagers depend on farming, changing seasons and the peaceful rhythm of sowing and harvesting. Farmers usually harvest two major crops a year-during winter the crop is mainly wheat and mustard while in the summer lentils are grown.
The menís role was to work and earn
money for the family. He was seen as the provider of the family but in turn he would
usually be taken care of by the women in the family as many believed that women
were born to serve men and be the bearer of children. Men in
Family resources, particularly land or businesses, were traditionally controlled by family males, especially in high-status groups. Traditionally, under Hindu law, women were not even allowed to inherit land or buildings so it is their male kin that control these resources.
Generally women were expected to live with their husbandís family and subordinate their personal preferences to needs of the family and kin group after being trained by their mother-in- law. Under British rule life for women did improve with help from the British governmental authorities who, for example, outlawed Sati, the practice whereby widowed women lit themselves on fire following the death of their husband.
A family will tend to have many children so that there is a larger chance of them growing up and earning an income to support the household. Children can be used to work in the farms and the fields and help out in chores. Girls may be included in an arranged marriage with a wealthier man or family so the familyís social status can advance and the parents could enjoy a more comfortable life. Bride sales and the giving of dowries still happen and many girls have no say in the choice of marriage partners.
Children in villages had minimal education and therefore many middle class families would send their children to British schools to become fluent in the language they believed to be superior, eventually some would lose the fluency of their own home language with a resultant loss of cultural identity.