Friday, June 18, 2010

Country of World Peace

Maharishi's inspiration to make every country a 'Country of World Peace', and his invitation to every government to declare their country a 'Country of World Peace', led to the inauguration, on 7 October 2000, of Maharishi's Global Country of World Peace.



1. World peace has been the long-sought goal of many generations.
  • The Transcendental Meditation Programme provides an effective solution to the problem of world peace.
2 . A peaceful world means a world of peaceful individuals, just as a green forest means a large number of individual trees that are green.
  • The individual is the basic unit of society. A peaceful individual is the unit of a peaceful world.

  • We can break the big problem of world peace into small problems and solve it on the level of the very nature of the individual.

  • Bring peace to all individuals, and the problem of world peace is solved.
3. World peace can be a practical reality when the individuals of every nation are healthy, happy, and harmonious within themselves, and spread this nourishing influence in their relationships with others.
Until this happens, conflicts are inevitable.

4.

Happiness is the basis of peace. Unless one is happy, any sense of peace one has will be constantly disturbed.
  • A lasting state of happiness cannot be gained by anything in the outer, ever-changing field of life.

  • The mind’s great thirst for lasting happiness can only be satisfied by contacting the field of infinite happiness, energy, and intelligence—the source of thought deep within the mind.

  • Allowing the mind to experience its more quiet levels naturally structures a permanent state of happiness, harmony, and peace.

Scientific research has established that long-time practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi Programme including Yogic Flying demonstrate brain functioning in terms of dynamism on the ground of silence, which is characteristic of self-referral dynamism—performance in the state of Unity Consciousness—self-referral consciousness. This special characteristic of action in silence identified in long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation Programme, has been verified by research scientists at Maharishi University of Management.

5.

World peace is within the reach of every nation when happiness is within the reach of the citizens of the nation.
  • As soon as the individuals of every nation begin to live in harmony and peace, world peace will be automatic and permanent.
6. Every individual influences his surroundings through every thought, word, and action. These influences are either life-supporting or life-damaging.
  • When people are happy, productive, and at peace within themselves, their surroundings reflect their state of well-being, and peace is a natural result.

  • When people are unhappy, restless, and tense, the atmosphere becomes saturated with these life-damaging influences and peace is disrupted.

  • National and international conflicts are caused by the collective effect of tensions that individuals generate in their environment.

  • As long as individuals continue to grow in stress and tension, world peace can only remain an abstract and fragile idea.
7. Transcendental Meditation dissolves stress within the individual by providing deep rest. At the same time the individual is strengthened, so he accumulates less stress and fatigue in daily activity.

8.

Any individual who is free from stress naturally generates happiness and harmony in his surroundings, and thereby contributes his share for world peace.

9.

The nature of life is to progress. Change is a constant phenomenon in creation because progress through change is the nature of life.
  • Peace is the basis of progress, but progress maintains peace. To be progressive, one must be more creative day by day.

  • Scientific research has shown that Transcendental Meditation makes a man more efficient, alert, and creative day by day—maintaining life in progress, providing a foundation for peaceful, harmonious living.

Maharishi’s Global Administration
through Natural Law
In July 1996, on Full Moon Day (Guru Purnima), Maharishi inaugurated a programme to establish a Global Administration through Natural Law, and on 12th January 1997 he inaugurated the ‘Year of Global Administration’, establishing a Global Administration with twelve Time-Zone Capitals around the world, in order to take full advantage of the administration of Natural Law centred in the life-giving sun, whose influence on the earth changes from month to month, creating the different seasons, and constantly maintaining the evolutionary nature of Natural Law for all life everywhere.
This has provided a new philosophy of administration, offering new principles and programmes to enrich national law in all countries with the nourishing influence of Natural Law.
Maharishi’s Global Administration through Natural Law focuses on all areas of administration, but has its primary focus on the application of Natural Law in the fields of education and health—total knowledge, ‘fruit of all knowledge’—enlightenment—and perfect health for everyone. This will spontaneously make administration free from problems because all problems have their basis in lack of proper education and in ill health.
With the establishment of Maharishi’s Global Administration through Natural Law, administration through national law in every country will begin to experience a lessening of problems in administration, and governments adopting the programmes of Administration through Natural Law will begin to experience support of Natural Law—rise of the dignity of their sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and invincibility.
The training of Global Administrators in Maharishi Universities of Management and Maharishi Vedic Universities is under way to raise governmental administration through national law on a par with the perfect administration of the Government of Nature through Natural Law, so that every nation rises above problems, and every government gains the ability to fulfil its parental role for the whole population.

Transcendental Meditation
Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural, effortless procedure whereby the mind easily and naturally arrives at the source of thought, the settled state of the mind—Transcendental Consciousness—Pure Consciousness, self-referral consciousness, which is the source of all creative processes. The experience of Transcendental Consciousness develops the individual’s latent creative potential, while dissolving accumulated stress and fatigue through the deep rest gained during the practice. This experience enlivens within one’s awareness creativity, dynamism, orderliness, and organizing power, which results in increasing effectiveness and success in daily life.
EEG coherence increases during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique. This indicates greater orderliness of brain functioning. EEG coherence has been found to be correlated with higher levels of creativity, intelligence, moral reasoning, neuromuscular efficiency, and with experience of higher states of consciousness. Reference: Proceedings of the San Diego Biomedical Symposium 15 (1976): 237–247; Psychosomatic Medicine 46(3) (1984): 267–276; International Journal of Neuroscience 14 (1981): 147–151.
Maharishi Effect
Scientific research has found that in cities and towns all over the world where as little as one per cent of the population practises the Transcendental Meditation Technique, the trend of rising crime rate is reversed, indicating increasing order and harmony.
Research scientists named this phenomenon of rising coherence in the collective consciousness of the whole society the Maharishi Effect, because this was the realization of Maharishi’s promise to society made in the very early days of the Movement.
The Maharishi Effect establishes the principle that individual consciousness affects collective consciousness. The success of Maharishi’s Global Administration through Natural Law in bringing peace to the individual has given rise to a global undertaking to effortlessly create an ideal society—Heaven on Earth—in which life will be characterized by ideal education, perfect health, dynamic progress, and peace and harmony in the family of nations.

The appearance of spreading areas of EEG coherence during the TM-Sidhi Programme is entirely analogous to the neurophysiological principle of recruitment, whereby more and more individual elements are brought into simultaneous action to accomplish more and more difficult tasks—more and more Laws of Nature are spontaneously recruited to fulfil the desire without resistance. Practitioners of the TM-Sidhi Programme with the most stabilized Transcendental Consciousness (the simplest form of awareness) were found to have maximum coherence of brainwave functioning as measured by EEG, indicating maximum mind-body coordination. This subtlest level of consciousness is a field of all possibilities, correlated with maximum creativity and experience of the ‘Siddhis’—procedures for producing effects in the body and environment by mere intention of the mind, which results in increased ability to fulfil desires. Reference: Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme—Collected Papers, Volume 1 (1977): 102.

TM-Sidhi Programme
The TM-Sidhi Programme is an advanced aspect of Transcendental Meditation. It trains the individual to think and act from the level of Transcendental Consciousness, greatly enhancing the coordination between mind and body, and developing the ability to enliven Natural Law to support all avenues of life to fulfil one’s desires.
 
Extended Maharishi Effect
In 1976, with the introduction of the more advanced TM-Sidhi Programme, including Yogic Flying, a more powerful effect of coherence in collective consciousness was expected.
The first major test of this prediction took place in 1978 during Maharishi’s Global Ideal Society Campaign in 108 countries: crime rate was reduced everywhere.
This global research demonstrated a new formula: the square root of one per cent of a population practising Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi Programme, morning and evening together in one place, is sufficient to neutralize negative tendencies and promote positive trends throughout the whole population.
 
Yogic Flying
Yogic Flying demonstrates perfect mind-body coordination and is correlated with maximum coherence, indicating maximum orderliness and integration of brain functioning. This coherence indicates action from Transcendental Consciousness, the Unified Field of Natural Law, where infinite organizing power is lively.
Even in the first stage of Yogic Flying, where the body lifts up in a series of short hops, this practice gives the experience of bubbling bliss for the individual, and generates coherence, positivity, and harmony for the environment.
 
Global Maharishi Effect
Research has shown that groups of individuals practising Yogic Flying—all enjoying very high brainwave coherence—create coherence in collective consciousness, and generate a unifying and integrating effect in the life of society. This results in a decrease of negative trends throughout society—such as crime, accidents, and sickness—and an increase in positive social, economic, and political trends. Scientific studies on this phenomenon have demonstrated that a group of at least 7,000 Yogic Flyers can produce this coherence-creating effect on a global scale, reducing violent and negative trends worldwide.
The Global Maharishi Effect was created by the group practice of 7,000 Yogic Flyers (7,000 being approximately the square root of one per cent of the world’s population) during three large ‘World Peace Assemblies’ which were held over a period of two to three weeks in the USA, Holland, and India.
The secret of the Global Maharishi Effect is the phenomenon known to Physics as the ‘Field Effect’, the effect of coherence and positivity produced from the field of infinite correlation—the self-referral field of least excitation of consciousness—the field of Transcendental Consciousness, which is basic to creation and permeates all life everywhere.
Every government must have a group of Yogic Flyers—‘A Group for A Government’—in their capital city to bring success to the government. With the establishment of ‘A Group for A Government’, national consciousness will become aligned with the Government of Nature, the evolutionary power of Natural Law, which administers everything in creation with perfect order. With the support of Natural Law—positive trends and harmony rising in national life—the problems of the nation will disappear, as darkness disappears with the onset of light.

During the period 1979–1986, the number of participants in Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme at Maharishi International University in the U.S. frequently exceeded the required amount to create the Maharishi Effect for the U.S. During those months, the U.S. actions toward the Soviet Union became more positive, as indicated by time series analysis of an independent data bank. When the number of TM-Sidhi Programme participants was at its highest level, the Soviet actions toward the U.S. also improved. Reference: Proceedings of the American Statistical Association, Social Statistics Section (August 1990): 297–302.

During Maharishi’s ‘World Peace Project’ of October–December 1978, experts in Maharishi’s TM-Sidhi Programme went to regional trouble spots around the world to demonstrate the ability of group practice of this programme to radiate a calming influence in the turbulent areas of Lebanon, Kampuchea, Iran, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and Nicaragua. During this time period, in comparison to a baseline period prior to the project, an independent data bank showed reduced hostile acts and increased cooperative events in those areas and among nations involved in these conflicts. Reference: Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme—Collected Papers, Volume 4 (1989): 2532–2548.

Crime decreased significantly during periods in which the number of group participants in Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme exceeded the square root of one per cent of the population of these three capital regions—Metro Manila, Philippines (August 1984–January 1985); Washington, DC, USA (October 1981–October 1983), Union Territory of Delhi, India (November 1980–March 1981). Reference: The Journal of Mind and Behavior 8 (1987): 67–104; and 9 (1988): 457–486.

Two studies using time series analysis found significant reductions in violence in the United States and Canada during periods when the number of participants in the group practice of Maharishi’s TM-Sidhi Programme exceeded the square root of one per cent of the North American population. Reference: Social Indicators Research 22 (1990): 399–418; Dissertation Abstracts International 50(5) (1989): 2203B.

This study shows that during three experimental periods when 7,000 experts (the square root of one per cent of the world’s population) practised Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme, there were significant global reductions in international conflicts and terrorism. Reference: American Political Science Association (1989).

During Maharishi’s World Peace Project of October to December 1978, in comparison to a baseline period prior to the project, an independent data bank showed reduced hostile acts and increased cooperative events internationally. This worldwide effect was due to the fact that the trouble-spot areas influenced by the visiting groups of TM-Sidhi experts were the key areas of international conflict and interaction at this time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Culture in South Africa

South Africa is a kaleidoscope of culture; a big warm colorful melting pot of culture that is full of exotic ingredients and tasty surprises, and has since then evolved and developed its rich flavors over the centuries. Get a taste of the South African rainbow of culture right from Zulu to archeology, and with a dollop of Kwaito, Quagga, Jukskei, and Corné to go!
Culture in South Africa
Perhaps one of the most spectacular features about the culture in South Africa would be that there isn’t just one single culture, but instead a whole cornucopia of different cultures that represent every level of an extremely stratified community. There are of course many hybrid mixtures of these varied cultures, making this nation one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world.

Culture cant get more diverse than it is in South Africa. This is a multiracial community and defining certain distinct subgroups by skin color alone will land you into a great deal of trouble. Those of British and Afrikaner descent most certainly wont be too happy to be mistaken as one another, and there are many different major and minor groupings that come under the traditional black African cultures.

The melding and mingling in the urban areas of South Africa, together with the intense suppression if the age-old traditional cultures during the years of apartheid, means that the older, more pleasant ways of life are all beginning to fade, but the traditional black cultures are still going strong in many parts of the countryside. Across the different tribes and groups, taboos and marriage customs tend to differ, but one common point that you will notice amongst most of the African traditional cultures is that they are all based on beliefs in ancestral spirits, masculine deities, and supernatural forces. On the whole, polygamy is acceptable and a dowry is generally paid. Cattle also play a very big role in most South African cultures as sacrificial animals and are looked upon as symbols of wealth and riches.

Looking at the art that has come out of the aboriginal populations of South Africa is probably the only way that we can connect with many of its lost cultures. Cave paintings and rock paintings by the San that back to nearly 26,000 years ago are just a small example of the art that has come out of this diverse cultural melting pot that is known to us as South Africa. There are many other cases, like the intricately ‘coded’ beadwork made by the Zulus, which is another good example of the traditional African art that have been created and adapted to survive in different conditions. The Zulu is probably one of the only strongest black cultures that survive till date and the Zulu songs along with their massed singing demonstrations are a very powerful reflection of this ancient culture. The Xhosa tribe also has a very strong presence in the cultural stage of South Africa and they are also known as the red people because of the red clothing worn by the adults.

The distinct culture of the Afrikaner’s has been developed throughout the years in a very deliberate isolation that saw them wandering around with their cows and a Bible in their hands while the rest of Europe experimented with liberalism and democracy. The rural communities of today still revolve around the conservative churches.

Apart from the Afrikaners, most of the white South Africans are of British descent. The British tend to be a lot more urbanized and dominate most of the financial and business sectors today. There is quite a large and extremely influential Jewish population as well, and a very significant Indian minority.

The British can be blamed for the large part of the food that is dished out in South Africa, although it isn’t as bad as it may seem, the situation is indeed improving dramatically. Boerewors sausages or steak, over boiled veggies (bland to say the least) and chips are the staple diet, and when you encounter food that seems to be a little more adventurous than the norm, then its probably going to turn out to be scary to say the least. Vegetarians will certainly not have a good time here. Traditional African dishes are generally not served in restaurants, but you’ll probably come across places that serve stew belly-fillers and cheap rice in most towns. Brandy and beer are the most popular beverages, and the excellent wines that come out of the South African vineyards are becoming increasingly popular.

Even though South Africa is home to many different cultures, most of these were suppressed during the years of apartheid, when all the daily practices of traditional as well as the contemporary cultures were ignored, destroyed or trivialized. In a society where a person could be imprisoned for just owning a politically incorrect piece of art like a painting, all the serious works of art were forced underground and the galleries and theaters were chock full bland works of art.

One of the best prospects of South Africa is that this country is always in the process of reinventing itself, and with such a large amount of the population that is marginalized from the economic mainstream; this is taking place without much input from any of those professional image makers. Music is another part of the culture that exemplifies the diversity and range of the culture in South Africa. Classical music, even though it is European in nature, is enjoyed occasionally at concerts throughout the country. Jazz is also a favorite in the larger townships and has diversified and developed into three very distinctive genres, namely: Black jazz, township jazz and Marabi. Kwaito is also very popular. Pop and rock are also favorites and many South African musicians have even created sounds that cannot really be confined to any particular genre, but are distinctly South African in nature.

So, come and enjoy the beauty of South Africa’s culture.

Native American Culture

Perhaps there is no other group in the world that has quite the diverse and richly storied culture as that of the Native Americans. With their gilded histories that are rich in strife, struggle and triumph, the Native American culture is indeed very colorful. So many features and aspects of our modern day living have been adapted from the old Native American cultures and traditions that were practiced centuries ago.
Native American Culture
Much of the cultural customs and diversity of our world is fast disappearing. In South America, not only are the native traditions and customs in danger of disappearing entirely but some of the native Indians are also in danger of becoming extinct. The Yanomamo is a popular Indian tribe that is fast losing many of its tribe members because of the destructive powers of the Western world. Many of the tribes’ members, traditions and culture are lost by the literal assimilation of these individuals as slave labor by the South American gold miners.

But, the Yanomamo is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many hundreds of lesser-known tribes who are still struggling to survive culturally as well as literally. A case I’d like to point out is the Assurini tribe that is a group living in the Amazonian forests of Brazil. This tribe is also known for its finely crafted pottery work, and its numbers are now seriously depleted to just 57 members. Most of these Native American tribes have their own languages, which are always found in a spoken form and very rarely in the written form. If the Native American culture and art is not recorded and protected, it will soon disappear forever.

Many symbols that we are familiar with today and have taken for granted were actually originated by the Native Americans. The totem pole, teepee, moccasins and the peace pipe are a few popular examples, but each one of these symbols were originally tiny little pieces of a much larger picture that once upon a time wove together the tapestry of the Native American way of living.

Everything from the native animals and plants to the housing and weather were all once a very strong part of the Native American culture. The animals were considered to be spirits and were revered, and even though they were hunted down and killed, their hides and skins were used for drums and for clothing purposes, their meat would never be wasted, and their spirits would always live on in the minds of the tribe members. Plants were cultivated and then harvested, and then used for a variety of purposes, such as dyes. The sun and the rain were considered to be powerful Gods, hinting at the change in seasons. They believed that in the entire universe there exists only one Great Spirit or a spiritual force that is the source for all things living. The Great Spirit is not depicted as a man in the Sky but is thought to be formless and exists throughout the universe. And the sun in turn was considered to be the ultimate manifestation of power of this Great Spirit.

Totem poles were a very important part of the Native American culture. They believed that each tribe member (or individual at that) possessed within him (or her) the spirit of a particular animal, and that this spirit would then be absorbed back by the concerned animal upon his death. The totem pole was a tall, wooden pole like structure with carvings of different animals on it, each animal representing a family member of a tribe member who has passed away.

These days, you’ll probably find dream catchers hanging from rearview mirrors of cars, but very few people really know about their significance. The dream catcher theory is based on a legend that was told by the Lakota tribe. It symbolizes all the good things and life and holding onto them, while the holes act as filters for filtering out all the bad feelings and thoughts. Smoke signals are another very interesting aspect of their culture. Smoke signals were used by each tribe member to communicate to another over a long distance and are till date symbols of the proud heritage of the Native Americans. Now that you know almost everything there is to know about the Native American symbols, lets move on to the other aspects of their culture.

Musical Expression
Singing is of course the most dominant form of musical expression in all cultures all over the world, and this is also the case with the Native Americans. Singing coupled with instrumental music that served mainly as a kind of rhythmic accompaniment played a big role in the Native American culture. Native American love songs are still played on the flute. The principal instruments used were the drums, rattles, whistles and flutes.

Music style however, changed from place to place and region to region. For example, the music in California was produced by a relaxed throat while that in the Great Plains was tense, forceful and pulsating.

Native American Art
Just like music was a very important part of the Native American culture, art also held a very special place in the lives of these people. Art has been used as a form of expression by the Native Americans for hundreds and hundreds of years. Most art forms were created as a symbol of something, like a bear, eagle, walrus or even people.

The materials used ranged from rocks and clay to cloth, fabric and feathers. Basket weaving was also a very popular form of expression that served many purposes as well. Cornhusks and reeds were woven together to form intricate baskets. The material would then be dyed to make colorful tribal patterns, resulting in the creation of a beautiful work of art that was also very useful as it could be used to transport vegetables and fruits.

Blanket weaving was very common practice amongst the Native Americans. The women would spend hours on end weaving these threads together to make unbelievably beautiful blankets of various designs and patterns. The Navajo tribe in particular is very famous for its hand woven blankets.

In the colder areas, Native Americans dutifully enjoyed creating art in order to pay homage to their animal friends. Walruses were carved out of whales’ teeth, and bears and eagles were made out of rock. Statues and pendants were made to symbolize the respect that these tribes had for their animals. Weapons and instruments were also considered to be a form of art, as these instruments were made with equal care and patience as the other forms of art.

Spain: Culture

The Spanish culture is rich, colorful and mysterious. Yes, the Spanish culture and lifestyle differs tremendously from that of the other European countries, and UK. There are so many different attitude and character traits that might even seem a little offensive and blunt to people from other cultures, especially the Brits. But, this is who they are and this is exactly how they are. This is the beauty of Spain!
Spain: Culture
As a result of its ideal geographical location, the culture in Spain is greatly influenced by people of all cultures, ranging from the Greeks and Romans to the Muslims, North Africans and Phoenicians. With their barging and touching and not standing in queues, the Spaniards are just as colorful as their culture, and if you are looking for an exciting, eventful holiday – Spain is the place to go! And, you don’t even have to know the main languages of Castellano and Valencia!

Spain is more or less a Christian nation wherein around 77 percent of the population is part of the Catholic Church, while only 1 percent belongs to the Protestant Church. However, there is a good mix of other religions like Islam as well.

Bullfighting is probably the most popular of all the Spanish traditions and culture, reflecting the great influence that other cultures and races had on this beautiful country. Brought into the Iberian Peninsula by the Greeks and Phoenicians, bullfighting is a sport that has evolved over the centuries and has since then adapted well with the Spanish culture. Originally, the sport involved men riding horses and fighting raging bulls, but it eventually changed to men, or matadors, fighting bulls off without the aid of horses. Bullfighting is seen more as a ritualistic event today than a sport.

Apart from bullfighting, there are many other aspects to the Spanish lifestyle and culture, which will all be briefly covered in this article.

Dancing the Flamenco way
The Spanish culture is also closely linked to the famous Flamenco style. This passionate form of dance first originated in Andalusia and was originally considered to be a gypsy dance. It is a flamboyant dance that is accompanied by the soulful tunes of the guitar and a song (cante), which is the soul of the whole art of doing the dancing the Flamenco. At its best, it is one of the only and true classical cultural contributions that Spain has to offer. Like bullfighting, Flamenco has also been referred to by many as the Soul of Spain and is a large part of the country’s traditions and culture.

Its songs of lament, bitter romance and oppressions have a chilling effect on most people. Artists that have greatly impacted this beautiful form of dance include, Diego Velasquez, El Greco, Salvador Dali and even Pablo Picasso.

The Spanish tourism industry has used this beautiful art to its advantage and you can now see Flamenco being performed in many of the commercial tourist shows that are greatly advertised as being ‘original Flamenco fests’, but are in fact a weak imitation of the real form. Real and true Flamenco is said to evoke the qualities of the demon or spirits that possess the performers, containing a sort of ecstatic yet primitive allure that welcomes all listeners.

However, the real thing can be experienced in smaller specialist bards and some of the members-only clubs, where ignorant and unappreciative tourists and foreigners are rarely welcomed or invited. The best chance of experiencing the real, authentic thing is probably at any one of the summer festivals that are held yearly in Granada, Cadiz, Malaga, Jerez and Seville, or even during the fiestas and festivals in the small villages that are off the tourist’s maps.

Fiestas & Festivals
Fiestas and festivals are also a very important part of the culture in Spain and play a big role in the social life of the locals. There are more than 3,000 festivals and fiestas celebrated every year. The Spaniards are fun loving people and are accustomed to these fests, and almost every town and village has its very own annual fair that lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Village festivals involve the locals going on a pilgrimage to a certain shrine either in horse drawn wagons or on horseback. Foreigners are always welcomed to join in the fun and laughter.

The first national celebration in the month of February is the Martes de Carnaval (the Mardi Gras of Span). Holy Week is another famous festival and attracts tourists from all over the world. Other famous festivals include the Corpus Christi, the Feast Day of Spain’s patron saint, the Assumption of the Virgin (la Asunción). There are many local fiestas for safe return from the sea, deliverance from the Moors, and harvests – the Spaniards use any excuse to Party!

From costumes and processions to music and dancing and feasting, you can see now why Spain’s culture is considered to be the most colorful. Larger festivals include flamenco, bullfights, circuses, funfair's, fireworks, concerts, fairs, music competitions and recitals.

The most famous however would have to be the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, which takes place during the Fiesta de San Fermin.

Culinary Offerings
Food and cuisine in Spain is a heavenly mixture of chicken, mixed vegetable and meats, along with fish and a variety of different spices. Although it may come as a surprise to you, the Spanish cuisine is relatively non-spicy, but this does not mean it is bland and tasteless! Spanish food offers some of the most mouth wateringly delicious dishes ever to be set upon a dinner table.

Some of the more popular Spanish dishes include paella, which is a rice dish that features a variety of ingredients. Then you have the mariscos or shellfish and the potajes and pimientos rellenos. Hot chocolate and churros is a very popular dessert throughout Spain.

Spain is also famous for its aromatic wines and the drinking age in the country is 18. Other alcoholic beverages are sangria, Cava and authentic Spanish beer.

Other Cultural Delights of Spain
For those of you who are into operas and the theater, you should know that the majority of theaters in Spain are located in Barcelona and Madrid, although a huge program has been established to build more theaters throughout the country.

Spain has more than 800 museums and important collectors items, especially in Barcelona and Madrid, and over the years there has been a tremendous explosion in the number of art galleries in the country, especially galleries related to contemporary art.

Soccer or football is the national sport of the country and is easily one of the most important event or sport when it comes to spectatorship and participation. These football fans are amongst the most fervent and dedicated in all of Europe and can only be matched in their fanaticism by probably the Italians.

The long yet leisurely walks on green terraces, the energy of bullfighting, the hypnotic beauty of the flamenco are just a few of the cultural experiences you can enjoy when visiting Spain. The country is indeed overwhelming. With its spectacularly diverse culture and traditions, it is a quaint mix between the Old World charm and the New World flamboyance.

A country brimming over with cultural contributions, Spain has a rich and diverse heritage of folklore and stories. So, whether this your first trip to the country or even your tenth trip, the country will never fail to impress you.

Mexican Culture

Mexico's history has led to a wondrous blending of cultures. Find out what makes Mexican culture unique. You have to visit Mexico once to witness the colorful culture that makes the country such a vivacious place to live in. The Mexican spirit is exemplified by the culture of the charro, or Mexican cowboy. It is a rich legacy of tradition and valor, of war and peace.

Once in Mexico, you can glimpse an intriguing blend of Native American traditions and Spanish colonial influences in Mexican culture. Mexicans have for centuries been known for their distinguished ceramics, music, painting, sculpture, textiles and poetry, but after the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, Mexican art and culture saw an amalgamation of Native American arts with the European way of life. This led to the evolution of a unique Mexican culture. Interestingly, the growth of Mexican culture is not limited to Spanish colonization, greatly developed cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs, existed long before the Spanish conquest.

The colonial rule of the Spaniards, which lasted for nearly 300 years, saw the construction of many churches, which are a blending of Spanish architectural designs with the handiwork of Native American workers who built and decorated the buildings. These Christian churches were supposed to replace the pagan structures. Not just churches, even the basic design of most of Mexico's towns, are influenced by the design of many of the older cities in Spain. The indigenous arts were regarded as an important part of the national revival after the revolution. Renowned artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, were commissioned to decorate important public buildings with large, vivid murals on social and historical themes. Many of these buildings exist to this day as thriving communities with magnificent cultural heritages. Mexico City is the country’s cultural epicenter of fine arts, museums, and music, but spectacular cultural treasures can be found throughout the country. Present day Mexico is bursting with murals and littered with galleries of contemporary and historic art, which are a highlight of the country for many tourists. Mexico City and Oaxaca are particularly considered to be booming in contemporary arts scenes. The country's vibrant folk-art tradition has also contributed to Mexican culture in a big way.

There is diversity of customs, language, dress and food in culturally vibrant Mexico. Spanish language is the national language of Mexico. But Mexican Spanish differs from Castilian Spanish, the literary and official language of Spain, in two aspects: in Mexico, the Castilian lisp has more or less disappeared, and numerous indigenous words have been adopted. Around 50 indigenous languages are spoken by about 7 million people in Mexico. A majority of the Mexican population have faith in Catholicism. Christianity was introduced to the residents by the colonial masters. As far as dressing goes, the people of Mexico who live in small villages though normally wear trousers, sombreros, cotton shirts and ponchos, in cities people generally wear fashion borrowed from Europe and the US. Clothing is Mexico changes according to the season. However, one of the hallmarks of Mexican clothing is woven fabrics. Woven clothing is worn by many people in Mexico.

People of Mexico are generally very warm and gracious and believe strongly in their family unit system and religion. Exchanging proper greetings in considered very important among Mexican social milieu. Though Mexican people are hard-working, they are not very rich. They believe in enjoying a reasonable quiet life, taking pleasure in their siestas.

Real Mexican food is quite unlike the dishes found in most Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in other countries. Tortillas, beans and chili peppers are staple food of Mexican people. Tortillas are thin round patties made of pressed corn or wheat-flour dough cooked on griddles. Beans (frijoles) are beans of different varieties and are most commonly boiled and then fried. They can be a main ingredient in a meal or served almost as a garnish. Jugos, which is a kind of fruit juices is a popular drink and is available everywhere. Mexico is also famous for its alcoholic beverages - mezcal and tequila in particular.

Today, Mexican society is slowly evolving from a socialistic government setup to a more democratic society. The government has taken steps toward improving literacy and education in the past few years- an indicator of progress.
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