Culture Wheel – All facets the term Culture contains

What is the definition of the term Culture?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines culture as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively

What does Culture mean in Biology? 

Cell culture, the maintenance and growth of the cells of multicellular organisms outside the body in specially designed containers and under precise conditions of temperature, humidity, nutrition, and freedom from contamination. In a broad sense, cells, tissues, and organs that are isolated and maintained in the laboratory are considered the objects of tissue culture.

And what does Culture mean to us socially?

For as long as we are social animals (even while being socially distant), culture will be the overall attitude and behavior of humans in a social group. What happens when we are taken outside our social group? What happens when different “foreign bodies” are introduced into our existing group? Does our culture dissolve or does it learn & absorb from others?

What is Cultural Heritage and how does it fit into our lives?

Heritage essentially is the property, something inherited or passed down from previous generations. Cultural Heritage implies a shared bond with our social group. A majority of this heritage has traditionally been intangible and passed on by transfer of knowledge. This is what it becomes extremely critical to safegaurd cultural heritage through societies like UNESCO & other international treaties. 

What all consists of the Cultural Wheel in our modern society?

Lets start exploring the Culture Wheel – the different facets of culture

1. Language 

It all starts with a baby’s first cry. From body language to sign language, on to spoken words and written text we learn from the environment we are in. But then, at some point, language learning moves to the backburner. Life takes over and the learning stops. As we get into the real world, we start communicating based on what is required of us at school, work etc and we start adapting ourselves.

Did you know: There are over 7,100 known languages alive and according to the UN, every 2 weeks one language is lost. Why? Simply because native speakers stop speaking it and would rather use another language to communicate.

What can we do? The only way a language lives is if it is used.
Is our language ours to own? Certainly not. We did not invent it and we do not own it. But language is ours to share. It is a great tool of communication that empowers and unifies people, irrespective of location or place in any society.

How to teach Hindi to your kids at home? 

Talk to your kids in your native language. It is their heritage and they have a right to be exposed to it. Be bilingual/ trilingual/ multi-lingual at home. It is natural they will grow up and adapt to languages that are spoken outside of home. But let them be multilingual. It is much more difficult to learn as adults, don’t you think? You are not only giving them the gift of language, but also opening up their world to be able to communicate with more people than they otherwise would have. Also try to incorporate Indian board games or other world heritage world games with the entire family. With these simple activities, kids can easily learn Hindi or any other language at home

The next time you talk to your friends or colleagues, teach them a fun word or two in a language they may not know. This could also make for a great team building exercise now that we are all over the place(quite literally). There is also no dearth of Board books for babies that are now available all over the world. This helps very young kids gain immense confidence irrespective of where they live.


2. Music

When our hearing develops, the first sounds that we hear are a mothers heartbeat, her voice and sounds from the movements she makes. This bond is eternal and can not be explained in enough words. These sounds form our first association with the outside world.

 As Madonna said – “Music makes the people come together”

Music connects people, much stronger than any other medium. It can transport you to another place, make you feel a certain type of way and bring out emotions. Voice intonations carry the message much further than words.
Music transcends beyond language, geography and all other Barriers. Music also makes learning easier, don’t you think?

Just like language, music is not ours to keep. We need to safeguard and nurture music but music is meant to be shared.

At a global level, it would be very difficult for someone to say that they don’t know a few words of a song from another language. FIFA anthems are usually multilingual. In other popular music: Gangnam Style, Senorita, And the most watched music video – Despacito! 

3. Dance

“Dance is a universal language and everyone has the ability to speak it”

Dance is an art form that utilizes the range of physical movement the body is capable of and usually set to music. It may be choreographed or improvised and is usually used to convey a message or express an idea. Dance is an integral part of any culture and could be performed in different settings:

ethnic indian woman dancing like peacock felt painting

Theatrical Dances are typically performed in front of an audience. These could also be ceremonial, competitive. This is typically ‘performed’ by someone who has thought through something they wish to convey. Think about a music video or a stage performance. Theatrical dancers are storytellers with our without the use of the spoken word.

Social Dances is more participatory and spontaneous. There is usually not an audience (unless you have those odd lurkers around). This type of dance is mostly impulsive and in the moment. Think dancing at a club, a wedding or a party.

There could be a third form that is very personal and that does not get covered in the above two umbrellas. This form of dancing can be used to release energy or take delight in the movement and has to do with our body and ones own conscience. This is closer to meditation and is generally very hard to define.

Dance transcends all borders, cultures and religions. Our individual culture and dance are very closely connected and can also be said to be inseparable.

Social dancing is an easy way to connect with locals when you travel. It is a form of communication that needs no words. And emotion can be easily understood by the very body language that one portrays.


4. Fine Arts

The term Fine Art is a visual art that is created with an aesthetic purpose to convey a message or as a form of self expression. It includes Painting, Sculpture and Architecture with the use of colors, patterns, motifs, proportions.

Fine Art is intrinsic to any culture. Art, in any form influences culture & Culture is directly influenced by Art. Most basic rules of art are universal and are deeply rooted in any culture.

Many famous works of art, including paintings and sculptures hold some religious significance. Then there are art forms which break barriers of culture and religion – contemporary art.

It is said that most artists are born and not created. What do you think? Do you have a flair for the Arts? 

5. Architecture

When was the last time you traveled somewhere and did NOT notice the architecture? What makes any place strikingly unique? It is the architecture, along with many other cultural manifestations of course.. but the architecture is unmissable. Buildings and structures are like jewelry that adorn any piece of land.

The architecture of a place directly represents the society and showcases culture, history, the climate, economic status and the political stability of any place. Architecture is in the public eye and quite hard to hide. And structures get etched as a part of history in its location.

What are some of the most remarkable structures you’ve visited? Or what are some unique places that you’ve visited with strikingly rich architecture?

6. Food

We are what we eat and we often land up craving foods that we grew up with. And this is why food is an integral part of any culture.

When we travel, we enjoy experimenting with local cuisines, which are unique and distinct in flavors. Variety is the spice of life.. and different flavors bring us different emotions. A large part of being modern global citizens is to understand and appreciate world cuisines. From a fine dining restaurant to a street food vendor, food defines and is inseparable from it’s culture.

Food.. this is one thing that most of us can always think about and talk about. What’s your favorite dish and what’s your favorite cuisine?

7. Festivals

One of the joys of traveling is to learn about cultures of the world. And what better way of seeing a culture in all its glory than a festival.

Marigold Garland Yellow & Orange DarkFestivals create an occasion for promoting social engagement and most cultural festivals become a part of the common practice associated with a certain place. Some of the world’s largest festivals are big attractions for tourists. As smart tourists, not only should we take part in these festivals, but also understand the significance of what it means to the people who celebrate it.

Check out our detailed post on Cultural Festivals around the world that you should know about. 

8. Traditions

Every society has cultural traditions that they identify with. These are practices and beliefs passed on through generations.

It is impossible to follow every single tradition just as our ancestors did, don’t you think? With passing time, we adapt to situational circumstances and use the knowledge that has been passed on to us. And this includes all our values, beliefs, rituals and customs.

Are these traditions ours to own or ours to share? What are some of your cultural traditions that you like to follow? And what are some that you’ve let go?

9. Games & Sports

Desi foam alphabet puzzle on Kula VillagePlay has been one of the earliest forms of human interactions and we see this with babies when they take one cues from other humans. Isn’t it beautiful what we’re born with?

Play becomes sport when it starts requiring organization and training. Sport helps develop the right attitude, physical strength, mental strength and skill required for human interactions.

What do Games & Sports have to do with Culture? Turns out sports and our cultural life are intertwined. Sport is an integral part of a culture that we can not detach from. Games & Sports enhance our social life by bringing people together as individuals and communities. Many would agree that Sport is a language that can speak much louder than words can. This helps break down stereotypes, cultural differences and prejudice and encourage dialogue, diversity & inclusion. Indian Board Games, along with other physical sports are an integral part of the culture that can easily be incorporated no matter where one lives.


Did you know that Kula Village is an online marketplace for cultural and heritage products in the US? We curate products made by small businesses, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs and dadpreneurs in the US and bring a piece of the world heritage to your doorstep. Do check out our website and get in touch with us if you would like to partner with us.


Deepika Pillai
Author: Deepika Pillai

Kula Village is a new-age community that curates multicultural, ethnic and heritage products

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