Indian Culture

In India, the essential themes of cultural life are learned within the family unit, and in most the country, the basic units of society are the patrilineal family unit and wider kinship groupings, with the most widely desired being the joint family, consisting of three or four patrilineally related generations living under one roof, working, eating, and worshiping in mutually beneficial social and economic activities (Indian pp). Patrilineal joint families include men related through male lineage, and their wives and children, and while most women are expected to live with their husband's relatives, they retain bonds with their birth families (Indian pp). Clusters of relatives live near each other in order to maintain strong bonds and respond to family obligations, such as economic and emotional support, and assistance in daily work and emergencies (Family Ideals pp). Moreover, specific annual rituals help define kin groups, such as the worship of the goddess to ensure the welfare of the lineage (Family Ideals pp). These rituals are marked by patrilineally related males and their wives partaking of specially consecrated fried breads and other foods, however, unmarried daughters do not partake, they are only spectators, and upon marriage will participate in the husband's lineage ceremony (Family Ideals pp). Lineage bonds are also evident at life cycle observances, such as births, marriages, and religious initiations (Family Ideals pp).

Key relationships include those between a brother and sister, parents and daughters, and a person and his or her mother's brother, resulting in a person being linked with several households and lineages in various settlements (Family Ideals pp). Lines of hierarchy and authority are clearly drawn, thus shaping structurally and psychologically complex family relationships and maintaining family harmony (Family Ideals pp). Elders rank above juniors, and among those of similar age, males outrank females, while daughters of a family command the respect of their brothers' wives, and the mother of a household is in charge of her daughters-in-law (Family Ideals pp). A newly arrived daughter-in-law has the least authority among the adults, while adult males must learn to command others and accept direction of senior males, particularly his father's authority on both minor and major matters (Family Ideals pp). Women are socialized to accept a subservient position to males and to control their sexual impulses, as well as subordinate their personal preferences to the needs and desires of the family and kinship group (Family Ideals pp). Hindu families practice samskaras, which are rituals that mark significant life events, such as a baby's first haircut, or the anna prasaana ceremony that is held when a baby is given its first solid food (Family Life pp). Women, even if they have careers, are responsible for maintaining the household and caring for the children and aged relatives (Family Life pp).

India is a country with several systems of popular medicine, such as ayurvedic, siddha, and unani medicine (Nissim pp). Upper class and middle class women tend to consult in allopathy although they may send their maids to the other systems of medicine (Nissim pp). The woman is the primary health giver, and for this reason she is often the last to be taken care of resulting in many of health concerns being neglected (Nissim pp). Remedies are often prepared and chosen according to local habits and essentially involve infusions, decoctions, powders and pastes from plants which have been ground and mixed (Nissim pp). There are over two thousand drugs listed…