Asian Traditions

Every custom, folklore, tradition and value system across Eastern cultures is heavily influenced by religion. Secularisation of society and mass tourism pose real threats to these shared beliefs and traditional ways of life. Traditional dress is already on its way out and language, customs and value systems are constantly under assault from global media.

Imagine a homogenous world without cultural variations. That would be a tragedy of huge proportions. 

“Every view of the world that becomes extinct,
every culture that disappears,
diminishes a possibility of life.”
~ Octavio Paz

Culture - Alms giving

Portray the importance of language.

Hindu temple in Bangkok

Until next time…happy travels no matter where life takes you.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

106 thoughts on “Asian Traditions

    1. Thanks Marina. I am acutely aware of how few children in our community speak our language. And I am personally guilty of eschewing some cumbersome customs too 🙂

  1. That’s one of the things I love about travelling – experiencing different cultures. It’s so important to preserve that.

    1. Me too. But more and more ‘culture’ is paraded for tourist consumption, and then it is far from the real thing.

  2. A reason for choice…
    but deep down in the soul’s of Man, there is the need of security for themselves, for others, for humanity… and perhaps [honestly] Buddhist philosophy gives us the power to improve our human condition! Thanks for such beautiful pictures :-)claudine

  3. I never know where we are going to end up next with you and your travel shots Madhu but the surprise is always so well worth it, and always getting under the layers of cultural differences so beautifully.

    1. The high point of a ‘puja’ is when the drumbeats and ringing reach a crescendo! Did you come South at all Gilly?

    1. Thanks Kat.
      You would need to leave your preconceptions behind to fully appreciate India. It might still be hard. Take a peek into this book by an expat. It is a brilliant compilation of stories on living in India.

  4. Have only been in India one night between flights – so I didn’t see much … this have told a bit about your country …. thank you so much and the photos are always of high quality. But on Readers … you post shows photos from Spain and their culture.
    Strange … maybe you should look into that.

    1. I see now that … there is photos from other countries too, like Thailand and Laos … maybe it’s my old laptop that doesn’t open all images up … Readers tells me there is 14 images in total . *smile

      1. I did upload more images than I used Viveka. Have deleted them now, thanks for letting me know. Had no idea unused images showed up in the reader! Shall be over to catch up with you tomorrow. Yikes….later today!! Off to bed now 🙂

        1. I thought it was something like that .. they had been removed … and still hanged in there.
          Hope you had a good nights sleep.
          Night soon again.

  5. such wonderfully rich photos madhu, eastern religious practices are so much more colourful and visible than those in the west … i do so hope that eastern culture survives the onslaught of boring western ways … my post talks a little about bhutan and the efforts they make to preserve their traditional ways …

    1. Thanks Christine. Bhutan was a great choice for this challenge. Nowhere else is there such commitment to preserving national culture.

  6. For me losing the world’s cultural identities would be on the same level as species’ extinctions, a tragedy of grave proportions.

  7. I can’t imagine how empty the world would seem without religious and cultural diversity, Madhu. I can’t wait to experience the beauty of your country someday, so until then, I’m happy to experience India and many other cultural wonders through your blog.
    Take care,

  8. It will be a sad day indeed – all clone like digits.

    We already see this in shopping malls – more and more, they all begin to look alike and even offer the same goods/brands no matter which metropolitan city we go to.

    Wonderful photographs, Madhu.

    Cheers, Eric 🙂

  9. A beautiful collection for this week’s challenge. It is sad how quickly cultural values are eroding… There must be some way – a middle path, which allows is to preserve our heritage, and at the same time adapt to the global environment…

  10. The picture of the grandfather passing on the tradition of a ceremony…..that’s where it’s at! We need to pass these traditions down to our children and grandchildren. Lovely post, Madhu.

  11. The pictures have their own language. And through this, you say more than you say… I love this Eastern tone in our lives. It is what gives grace to our faceless and sometimes, entirely routine lives. The little touches, a fragrance of jasmine, a touch of sindoor… it’s everything.

    1. You say it better than any image ever could dear Meenakshi 🙂 You are right, those are the things that enrich our bland – secular – lives.

  12. “Every view of the world
    that becomes extinct,
    every culture that disappears,
    diminishes a possibility of life.”
    ~ Octavio Paz

  13. Wonderful pictures :)It made me to smile when I read “spending half one’s daily wages on flowers to adorn a lady’s hair”.BTW,I am from Tamilnadu 🙂

    1. Not talking about you of course 😀
      Just can’t help wondering how the average daily wage earner can afford them everyday! But if the husband can waste it on hooch, she is fully justified 🙂 Appreciate the visit and comment Praveena.

  14. And to experience these different cultures is why we all travel isn’t it? Loved the first picture!

  15. Religion has two sides – a good side where everything is nice and peaceful and people worship in nice buildings with their unique customs. But religion also has an ugly side which can cause tensions and wars.

    I once spoke to two brother who had been brought up in a high caste Hindu family in India. They had disappointed their parents by converting to Christianity. Their parents never spoke to them after this as they had been destined for high office in the Hindu religion. They converted to Christianity because it promised salvation and everlasting life through Jesus Christ which was something they could not achieve being Hindus.

    Religion can also cause conflicts in families and in nations and is the cause of many wars. The Crusades in the 11th to 13 centuries between Christians and Muslims, British Civil Wars in the 17th century and the tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India.

    But, where would we be without religion?

    1. Appreciate your sharing your thoughts on the subject Jane 🙂
      I am not a religious person. I do believe though that ALL religions basically preach the same truth. It is the interpretation of those truths that are good or bad depending on individual perspective. And the cause of all strife on this earth, when used by vested interests to manipulate the masses.
      Hindus and Muslims in India co-existed peacefully until our colonial masters decided to use the ‘divide and rule’ policy. Today our politicians use it with equal efficiency. Nothing to do with religion at all, it is politics and powerplay and subsequently, revenge for lives lost and insult perceived. Every single time.
      I read an interesting article recently about whether changing ones religion equals loss of cultural identity. The conclusion was that it doesn’t necessarily.
      This post is about that cultural identity. A Christian in India follows several of the same customs Hindus do, along with language and dress. Adopting an essentially Western religion does not make him a Westerner. The differences in our multicultural, multilingual society – in my opinion – are enriching rather than divisive, when our politicians let us be 🙂

  16. I am inured to laments over the deaths of species, and how it impoverishes our world. But nowhere before have I seen suggested that the same phenomenon can occur with increasing globalization and homogenization of culture. The instant I read your blog, with its opening quote by Paz, it made total sense. Is there an antidote for this? I can’t think of any —
    You are recording these cultures with your words and photographs. That is already something.

    1. Wish that were enough 🙂
      Language is the first to go actually. According to this of the more than 6,700 languages spoken in the world, half are in danger of disappearing before the century ends! Our mother tongue – Tulu – is slowly but surely headed in the same direction.
      Can’t think of an antidote either 🙂

  17. Madhu, we would indeed lose a lot if we were all one homogenous group. I love what each culture brings to our lives – especially the food, music and clothing. I heard of a Native American community that’s donated money to a university to teach its language which is nearly lost.

  18. Documenting what is for those who will come after is such a key part of our jobs as memory keepers. Beautiful photographs. I think the only thing we can be certain about is that the world will continue to change and cultures continue to merge. Saying exactly the same isn’t much of a choice either!

  19. a former linguistics professor of mine talked about studying some languages for which there were only a handful of native speakers left. while it is practical when people are able to communicate with a common language, there is a richness to every one, and i find it sad to see that richness lost.
    for some of the local indigenous languages which are in danger of being lost, there is a concerted effort to teach them to younger generations. yet i can imagine that one of the prime factors for learning a language – the motivation to be able to communicate – would be missing, since the new learners would already have a common language, probably English or French.

  20. Amazing photos, excellent captured… 🙂

    Agree with you – traditions are heavily influenced by religion – here in northern Europe too – but it’s a bit funny in my homeland Denmark – where Christianity are relatively young (approximately 1,100 years) because much of what the Danes believe are religious traditions of Christianity has proved to be even older and come from even older cultures such as the Celts and the Aesir (the old Norse gods) – so inspiration is a funny thing… 🙂

  21. Lovely photos of the varied culture, Madhu. Love the one of the little girl with the bells, and those flower garlands are magnificent.

  22. Busy working on what you asked me and hope you don’t mind, but would like to test it out here and see if it works. 🙂 If not, I will look into it further until I find the answer. LOL! *hugs*
    Sonel’s Corner

        1. Just finished with it hon. Please go and have a look and let me know how it worked out for you and thanks again for asking. 🙂 *big hugs*

  23. Namaste Madhu and glad to meet here in the blogging world! Thanks for the cheery hello and interest in the India Bites book….it’s easy to download at Amazon. Sounds like you are on the updraft of adventures! May your wings carry you safely to vistas unknown. Will be following along…..shanti…kai

    1. Apologies for this rather belated reply! Thank you so much for your visit and good wishes 🙂 AND the follow too!

  24. I think your first pic is just magic and great…It is not a beautifu shot, but it has atmosphere..I can feel the faith, smell the inciense, listen to the silence…

    1. I have a better shot of that scene in the post that it is linked to Ilargia. Didn’t want to use the same one again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      1. Dear Madhu….I do not know what happened with my previous comment!!!! I need to ask you to forgive me, please!!!! What I wanted to say what that it was NOT ONLY a good shot but it ALSO had a wonderful atmosphere!!!!
        I am so so so sorry!!!!

    1. Oh no, not at all Ilargia! I was stating a fact when I said the other shot was better. Please don’t worry about it. Happy that you took the time to comment. Thanks again 🙂

      1. But that one is so nice!!!! I am so glad you read my explanation!!! I was so worried! Sometimes I make mistakes when translating from Spanish to English …!

  25. “Imagine a homogenous world without cultural variations. That would be a tragedy of huge proportions. ”
    I agree, Madhu.
    One of the things that makes this world beautiful is its diversity.

  26. The verse included in this nice album made me recall the sad destruction of the Bamiyan statues of Afghanistan…I love tradition too and believe that its beauty should be retained in some manner with progress and development.

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