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In this article, we are discussing characteristics of culture.

Difference between culture and civilisation: 

Civilisation is a process whereby societies achieve heightened development through combination of all tangible human developments. Thus, the culture of a particular region is the fruit of civilization, which is a cyclic process i.e. it rises and falls. On the other hand, culture is progressive. It adds value to the previous form and helps in the development of future forms. 

In short, a civilisation grows out of culture but not every culture has developed into a civilisation. 

Cultural Heritage:

i) As we have discussed before, culture is progressive. Our ancestors learn values/customs from their predecessors and include these in their own lifestyle. They also adopt new habits, while renouncing certain learnings if they seem irrelevant to the present time. In this way, culture is transmitted and carried forward from one generation to the other. 

ii) The culture people inherit from their predecessors is called cultural heritage. When a nation inherits a culture, it is called national cultural heritage. 

iii) Monuments and major sites like the Taj Mahal, Red fort, churches in Goa, the Sanchi Stupa, group of monuments at Hampi, the Ajanta-Ellora Caves, Great Living Chola Temples, etc. are part of our cultural heritage. 

iv) It is to be noted that cultural heritage does not only comprise monuments and sites of architectural prominence. It also includes intellectual achievements, philosophies & schools of thought, scientific inventions & discoveries, etc.

v) Several notable scholars have played a crucial role in shaping India’s cultural heritage. Brahmhadeva, Shridhara, Varahamihira, Baudhayana, Aryabhatta and Bhaskaracharya were known for their contributions in Astronomy, Astrology and Mathematics, Nagarjuna in Chemistry, Kanad in Physics, Sushruta and Charaka in Medical Science, Patanjali in Yoga, Buddha, Mahavira and Charvaka in Religion and Philosophy.

vi) So, in conclusion we can say that culture is liable to change but heritage remains the same over centuries. It is our heritage that keeps us together.

Characteristics of Culture: 

i) Culture is learned & acquired: The various aspects of culture are learned from family members, friends and the society. A person’s culture is influenced by the physical and social environments through which s/he operates.

ii) Culture is shared by a group of people: A thought or action which is shared, believed or practised by a group of people is called culture. 

iii) Culture is dynamic: Culture gets modified as new ideas, trends and traditions replace or alter the old ones. No culture in the world is permanent. 

iv) Culture is cumulative: Values, customs, habits and ideas, among others are passed by each generation to the coming generations. Every generation adds more knowledge to what they originally learnt and continue the cyclic transmission of culture. 

v) Culture denotes the ideal behaviour patterns: Culture of a particular society lays out ideal behaviour patterns that are to be followed by individuals so as to gain social acceptance from people who are of the same culture. 

vi) Culture is diverse: Culture is an amalgamation of many mutually independent factors. 

To read the other articles in the series

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