Where do pyjamas, yoga, curry, gurus and Bollywood films come from? Answer: India, of course! Let’s look at some ways Indian culture has influenced and inspired other cultures around the world.



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by Julie Bray


Question: Where do pyjamas, yoga, curry, gurus and Bollywood films come from?
Answer: India, of course!

August the 15th is the birthday of modern, independent India. Fifty seven years ago Jawaharlal Nehru claimed independence for this huge country and its massive population. To celebrate, let’s look at some ways Indian culture has influenced and inspired other cultures around the world.


First, Indian food, especially its richly spiced dishes which are called ‘curry’ outside India, has become a worldwide favourite. Most countries have their own version of the Indian curry. In Japan it is very sweet and in Thailand an Indian-style chicken curry is served alongside Thai curries. In the more cosmopolitan cities around the world, you can buy samosas (fried snacks with a filling) and naan bread alongside local snacks.


If you have eaten too many samosas and are worried about your health, try Yoga. This is an ancient Hindu philosophy and system of exercises originating in India. Yoga is now recognised all over the world as an intelligent form of exercise. Regular practice can heal minor illnesses, change your state of mind, help you lose weight or work your muscles. More and more different types of yoga are being developed and the original poses have been adapted to suit modern needs. Yoga has become so fashionable around the world that a lot of companies are using pictures of people doing yoga dressed in white to sell their products!


One of the most famous things about modern Indian culture is the Indian film industry, known as Bollywood. The usual story is about a boy and a girl who love each other but their families don’t approve. There is a lot of dancing and singing in the film as the boy and girl try to convince their families to let them marry. The increasing interest in Bollywood films inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to produce the musical Bombay Dreams, which had a very successful two years in London - everyone loved the music and the costumes! The show is now being shown on Broadway – the first Indian-themed musical to be shown there.


There are plenty of words used by people all over the world which have come from Indian languages. From Hindi we have shampoo, a word used with various spellings in quite a few languages, including German and Portuguese. This is a body or hair wash, but was originally a body scrub with herbs and warm water. A guru was originally a Hindu religious teacher, but these days the word is usually used to describe anyone who knows a lot about a certain subject and is considered an expert. A good example of this is ‘fashion guru’; a fashion expert whose ideas are important to designers. From the Tamil language we have the word rice in English, which comes from the word ‘arisi’, and mango which comes from the word ‘mangaai’.


Finally, pyjamas, the most comfortable clothes in the world, originated in India. Most of us usually wear them around the house or while sleeping. But the original pyjama suit is to be worn anywhere, and is still worn in India. Pyjamas are only the loose trousers, and these are worn with a very long shirt called a kurta. This is usually white or a pastel colour. Men usually wear pyjamas and kurtas, but women in India have shalwar (trousers) and a kameez, which is like a dress worn over the shalwar. Both of these suits are so comfortable and adaptable that in about 20 years’ time they should be more popular than jeans!





The most interesting thing was to know that the word shampoo comes from an indian language.

India is one of the greatest country in the world. Indian has a thousands year culture that make influence to human being. I cannot remember exactly, but some kind of number, some biggest religions in the world, and philosophy are generated from Indian culture.
As one of my teacher said: Now a day, India is famous for tech developers, bankers, and making babies. Do you have any idea about it?

nice to know origin of rice, pygiama and so on... ;)

very nice articl I think it has much information about india

Very interesting and pro active learning language article to practice. Thanks a lot !!

The podcast on India by Julie Bray it appears that Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru got
freedom for India.  But it was Mahatma Gandhi who got freedom and is
considered as the father of the Indian nation.
Gandhi was a truly great person.  He is in the league of great people like
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Hello Sendhil,
The text doesn't claim that Nehru won freedom for India, instead it says that he 'claimed' or announced independence. This is referring to the 'Tryst with destiny' speech he made and that he raised the Indian flag on 15 August 1947.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

India is rich country with different cultures ,different languages and different food .its very religious and most democracy in the world.
India is an agricultural country .The country has more than 60000 villages. Ganges is longest river in India which provide water to 4 main states of  India. India has 2nd highest population across the world.
people of India is very intelligent and cheerful .they are very loyal and dedicated towards their families .India is country of festivals.
India is fast growing country. It is the best source for IT.
But some part of India is still living under poverty because lack of education and money .but as Indian economy is growing up more people are involving their self to make others educated and broad minded.
India inspired sports too. Recently in 2010 India has hosted commonwealth games in Delhi .Indian cricket team also won the world cup in 2011.
there is no doubt that one day India will become the most developed and richest country in the world.

India is one of the emerging countries and famouse as a member of BRICS. Indian people are superior to mathematics and many people go overseas to work in the very high position like in Goldmansachs and Morgan Sranley. And many companies outsource the call center business and IT business to Indian companies. There is a big gap between rich and poor  people yet, but as the Indian economy develops, the average life standard will be improved in the near furure and India will be one of the most powerful  countrie in the world.