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India’s primary official languages are Hindi and English, though several other languages are recognized as regional languages in different parts of the country. Over 80% of India’s population practices Hinduism, with about 13% practicing Islam and a small minority of about 2% practicing Christianity. Modern India’s culture has been shaped by traditional beliefs and practices as well as by its former status as an English colony. A variety of music, dance, and theater draw heavily from Hindu mythology, and even political and social events. Television and film are extremely popular in India; the country has the world’s largest film industry. While certain discriminatory elements of India’s caste system were outlawed in the 1940s, many people are still defined by their caste, which determines their standing in the social hierarchy. Arranged marriages are still a common practice as well, and traditional clothing such as the sari and the dhoti are regularly worn. A variety of religious festivals are also celebrated in the country, though different states observe a different number of these as official holidays. Cricket is the most popular sport in India (a result of British influence), though field hockey is also quite popular. Chess and traditional sports such as kabaddi and kho kho are also quite popular.
Sri Lanka (part of India Bangalore Mission)
Sri Lanka’s official languages are Sinhala and Tamil, though English is also a recognized language. Buddhism is the country’s dominant religion, accounting for approximately 70% of the population. There are also significant Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups in the country. Sri Lanka’s culture is greatly influenced by both Buddhism and Hinduism. Kandyan dances and other traditional forms of dance play an important role in various religious and cultural ceremonies, and are usually accompanied by their own unique folk music. Pop, R&B, and rock have also become more popular in recent years. Cricket, volleyball, and rugby are among the most popular sports in the country.
Sri Lankan cuisine is heavily influenced by India, though the country has many of its own unique spices that are used in cooking (including cinnamon). Rice and spicy curry dishes are eaten daily. The main curry usually contains chicken, mutton, or fish; it is often served with a side curry made using fruits or vegetables. Coconut milk is also commonly used in cooking. Drinking tea is important in Sri Lankan culture, and is served frequently throughout the day.
*Maldives is assigned to the India Bangalore Mission but there is no mission presence in Maldives at this time*
Unofficially, proselyting work began in 1850 by British sailors who visited Calcutta, India. They were followed in 1851 by Elder Joseph Richards, who had baptized several people in Calcutta and then set them apart as missionaries. A small branch (a small congregation) was established, but was depleted by emigration. However, additional missionaries arrived and baptized a few more people, and a small meetinghouse was built.
In 1853, additional missionaries took the gospel message to Madras, Bombay, Rangoon, Karachi, Poona, and other areas, and several small branches were established. However, when these missionaries returned to Utah in 1858, some of the converts also emigrated. Although other missionaries and conversions followed, the missionaries were not successful in learning the native languages and the India Mission was not considered a successful one. At least one branch existed through 1903.
Other missionary efforts were initiated in subsequent years with some success. In 1981, government regulations allowed a missionary couple to establish a branch. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was translated into Telugu in 1981. In 1993, a mission was created in Bangalore with Gucharan Singh Gill, a native of India, presiding over it. At that time there were 1,150 members in 13 branches, which increased to 2,000 members in 18 branches five years later.
The first meetinghouse in India was dedicated on February 2, 2002, housing the Rajahmundry Branch.
Indian cuisine is very distinct, and uses many herbs and spices to flavor food. Naan flatbread is often served with meals, though rice is a staple food in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Beef is not eaten, as cows are considered sacred. Many Indians are vegetarians, substituting meat with vegetable proteins; however, fish, chicken, and even pork are eaten in different regions of the country.
Staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bajra), rice, whole-wheat flour (atta), and a variety of lentils, especially masoor (most often red lentils), toor (pigeon pea), urad (black gram), and moong (mung bean). Lentils may be used whole, dehusked—for example, dhuli moong or dhuli urad—or split. Split lentils, or dal, are used extensively. Some pulses, such as channa (chickpea), Rajma or kidney beans, lobiya are very common, especially in the northern regions. Channa and mung are also processed into flour (besan).
Motor vehicle penetration is low by international standards, with only 103 million cars on the nation’s roads. In addition, only around 10% of Indian households own a motorcycle. At the same time, the automobile industry in India is rapidly growing with an annual production of over 4.6 million vehicles, and vehicle volume is expected to rise greatly in the future.
In the interim, however, public transportation still remains the primary mode of transportation for most of the population, and India’s public transportation systems are among the most heavily-used in the world. India’s rail network is the 4th longest and the most heavily-used system in the world, transporting 7,651 million passengers and over 921 million tons of freight annually, as of 2011.
India is the second most populated country which means missionaries should be cautious and alert everywhere they go. There are pickpockets and some violence. If you follow the spirit and obey mission rules everything will be fine.
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Straight from the India Bangalore Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
*What did you eat the most of?
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Seafood and Pizza”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“I have served in my local mission India, But I had an MTC in Phillippines, here I have found many differences in food and clothing, Especially food. I have found they eat more sea food, raw fruits and vegetables which seems to be good for health, but at first I could not take it, slowly I have started liking.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the India Bangalore Mission?
“Ohh I can say, sure missionaries like to serve in INDIA, those 2 yrs gives so much to learn for their life time”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“May be I feel some good communication Skills and better Scriptural knowledge and Genuine love for the Mission and for those whom we serve”
“Mission is wonderful, It’s a platform where one can step into a journey for a wonderful, inspirational and spiritual life, It has more meaning in one’s life if we are obedient and faithful till we honorably release. It gives an immense experiences and fond memories that can last for life time”
**Did you serve in the India Bangalore Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**