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International Coffeehouses: India

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Panoramic view of Agra on the banks of the Yamuna river.

Paulo. Agra [Agra, India]. Retrieved March 9, 2018 from (Originally photographed 2010, August 18). Licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Flag of India. Orange, white and green stripes with a blue chakra (wheel) in the center  

(Citation 1)


Map showing India's surrounding countries, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea

(Citation 3)

Streaming Audio: Folk Melodies of India

    Amazing India - Folk Melodies Of India


Listen to Hindustani Music

Facts in Brief

The Republic of India forms a natural sub-continent, with the Himalaya mountain range to the north. Two sections of the Indian Ocean—the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal—lie to the west and east, respectively. India’s neighbours are Tibet (the Xizang Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China), Bhutan and Nepal to the north, Pakistan to the north-west and Myanmar (formerly Burma) to the north-east, while Bangladesh is surrounded by Indian territory except for a short frontier with Myanmar in the east. Near India’s southern tip, across the Palk Strait, is Sri Lanka. India’s climate ranges from temperate to tropical, with an average summer temperature on the plains of approximately 27°C (81°F). Annual rainfall varies widely, but the summer monsoon brings heavy rain over much of the country in June and July. The official language is Hindi, spoken by about 30% of the population. English is used as an associate language for many official purposes. The Indian Constitution also recognizes 18 regional languages, of which the most widely spoken are Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu and Gujarati. In addition, many other local languages are used. According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population are Hindus and 14.2% Muslims. There are also Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and other minorities. The national flag (proportions 2 by 3) has three equal horizontal stripes, of saffron, white and green, with the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of the Law), in blue, in the centre of the white stripe. The capital is New Delhi. (Citation 2) 


The notes of the Indian scale are arranged in various patterns called ragas. Each raga has a special meaning and may be associated with a particular mood, emotion, season, or time of day. Indian instruments include the sitar, sarod, and vina, which are plucked stringed instruments; the tambura, which produces a drone (continuous tone); and the tabla and mridangam, which are drums.

Globalization of Indian Culture

While Hindi language films have become more westernized in recent years, filmmakers who speak other languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada have captured broader appeal throughout the country with dubbed or subtitled versions of their films. Some see this success as a testament to the power of storytelling and cinema no matter the language, and indicative of Indian cinema's global appeal. Critics have attributed this success to the glorified violence and masculinity presented by many of these blockbusters. (4)

Netflix's reality dating show Indian Matchmaking's poster. Matchmaker Sima Taparia stands in front of sparkling hearts with pictures of her young client's heads inside.

Vice President of Content for Netflix India, Monika Shergill highlighted the global appeal of films from India, “points out that 28 Indian films have featured in the Netflix non-English top 10 charts this year, there was a week where five Indian titles featured on Netflix’s global top 10 list, and that viewership of Indian films on the service has gone up by 50% from last year.” (5)

Tamil move star Dhanush on a red carpet, smiling in a tuxedoRecent action, spy thriller The Gray Man featured Tamil movie start Dhanush.

"Something that was one of the more significant benefits of working with Marvel was we were able to travel the world and meet fans up close and talk to them and understand culturally where they're coming from when they watch stories," [Joe] Russo continued, adding, "Bollywood has as rich of a history as Hollywood does and has incredible talent and stars that are just not getting a platform on a bigger stage.” (6)

Ravi Shankar performing with his daughter AnoushkaBy performing in major concert venues around the world, Shankar is credited with introducing the West to Hindustani music. His collaborations with many Western artists made Indian music mainstream. George Harrison was fascinated by the sitar and Shankar’s virtuosity and studied with him from 1966-68. The song “Love You To” from the 1966 Revolver album begins with a sitar introduction and pushed the group into a more experimental direction. Harrison was also passionately interested in transcendental meditation and encouraged the Beatles to visit the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. This trip became their most productive songwriting period. (7)

Hindustani Music


Ravi Shankar performing at Woodstock in August, 1969Ravi Shankar was a monumental figure in Indian music, sitar virtuoso, and composer. His concert career began in India in the late 1930s, where his extensive knowledge and training in different genres revolutionized the sitar. In 1949 he was appointed director of the new All-India radio and composed for that ensemble. He left that position in 1956 and began making trips to Europe and the U.S. He was extremely sought after as a concert artist and collaborated with artists like Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta, and Phillip Glass. Additionally, his score for Gandhi was nominated for an Academy Award. (8)


Shankar performing at Woodstock in August, 1969 (9)

Indian American composer Reena EsmailAmerican composer Reena Esmail was the 2020-2021 Seattle Symphony Composer in Residence. Her works connect the styles of Hindustani (North Indian) and Western Classical music. This blend of both cultures can be a window into understanding either, no matter your background. The fusion of styles is especially apparent in her Concerto for Hindustani Violin and Orchestra which features violinist Kala Ramnath. This work was premiered with Ramnath and the Seattle Symphony on March 20, 2022, and is one of Esmail's 11 world premieres in 2022. (10)


Kala Ramnath seated, ready to play.Violinist and vocalist Kala Ramnath is one of the world's most sought-after violinists. She was the first Indian musician to be featured in The Strad magazine and performs around the world collaborating with artists in many genres. (11)

Learn Hindi, Telegu, Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil, or Urdu!

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(1) Country Flag (India), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Retrieved 09 March 2018 from

(2) Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (India), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 09 March 2018 from

(3) Country Map (India), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville.Retrieved 03 March 2021 from

(4) Chris Kay, “Big Budget Blockbusters Eclipse Bollywood in India Power Shift,” Bloomberg, June 30, 2022,

(5) Naman Ramachandran, “Netflix India Content Chief Unwraps Strategy as Streamer Reveals Production Partnerships, Celebrates Films Day,” Variety, August 29, 2022,

(6) Kirsten Acuna, “Why ‘The Gray Man’ cast Dhanush and kept his character alive: ‘We were not interested in him playing a one-off character.’,” Insider, August 3, 2022.

(7) Ravi Shankar performing with his daughter Anoushka, (M. Peric/Lebrecht Music and Arts. Grove Music Online)

(8) Stephen Slawek. "Shankar, Ravi." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

(9) Ravi Shankar at Woodstock, Wikimedia Commons,

(10) Thomas May, "Highly sought-after composer Reena Esmail debuts new piece with Seattle Symphony," Seattles Times, March 18, 2022,

(11) "Bio,", accessed October 4, 2022,