A Journey Through India
Laura Sacco

This year's second presenter in the Multicultural Community series is Rajyalakshmi Shtrom, parent of Teja, Class of 2024. Raj's roots trace back to Ongole in South India, where she was born. As a child, she remembers climbing the fruit trees, relishing the sweet rewards. During the summer months, she helped her grandparents in the field, learning the value of hard work and the land's beauty. At her home, buffalos and bulls were a part of our daily life, with Ongole bulls recognized as the finest in the world. 

India, with a population of 1.486 billion people, has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. It's recognized as the first country to mine and lead diamond production, adding to its treasure trove of valuable gems. India's culinary influence extends worldwide as it proudly holds the title of the largest spice producer, infusing flavors into cuisines across the globe. The sacred status of cows is deeply ingrained in Indian culture, emphasizing the reverence for these animals. In entertainment, India gave the world the popular game 'Snakes and Ladders,' a timeless pastime enjoyed by generations. Yoga, with its origins dating back 5,000 years, is a gift from India to the realm of physical and mental well-being. Additionally, India's ancient wisdom birthed Ayurveda, a holistic form of healing documented as early as 4500 to 1600 BC, showcasing the country's enduring contribution to wellness and medicine.

The capital of India is New Delhi, a bustling metropolis that serves as the political heart of the nation. India's linguistic diversity is remarkable, with 22 official languages, 121 languages, and 270 mother tongues spoken across the country. Among these, Hindi is the world's oldest language, a testament to India's rich linguistic heritage. India's diverse landscape is divided into 28 states, each with its unique cultural and geographical characteristics, contributing to the nation's vibrant tapestry of traditions and landscapes.

India is a country of remarkable diversity in terms of its physical landscape. Its vast expanse spans from the towering Himalayan mountain range in the north to the pristine beaches along its extensive coastline in the south. The landscape is punctuated by lush, fertile plains, dense forests, and arid deserts, creating a striking contrast in terrain. Majestic rivers like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra traverse the country, nourishing the fertile plains. Vibrant cities blend seamlessly with rural villages, and the architecture ranges from ancient temples and palaces to modern skyscrapers. India's landscape is a kaleidoscope of colors, with an array of plants and animals that varies from region to region. It's a country that showcases nature's grandeur and human ingenuity equally.

India's rich culture and diverse landscape offer a warm and welcoming experience, beautifully encapsulated by the greeting "Namaste," which means "The Divine in me honors the Divine in you."