Abraxas
Viewed by many occult religions as the supreme deity and the ruler of all the 365 heavens, one for each day of the year. The number 365 corresponds to the numerical value of the seven Greek letters that form his name, the magical word Abracadabra is also derived from this name.
Almirah
Cabinet
Banghi
a traditionally low status Indian social caste, often treated as untouchables.
Batman
A military position in the Army or Air Force assigned to a commissioned officer as a personal servant.
Betel Nut
In South Asia, traditionally the leaves of the Betel vine are chewed together in a wrapped package with the areca nut as a stimulant and breath-freshener, (also known as Paan)
Bharatanatyam
The oldest of the traditional Indian dance-forms originating in Tamil Nadu, known for its grace, purity and sculpturesque poses.
Bodhi Tree
Ancient fig tree under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual founder of Buddhism, later known as the Buddha, achieved enlightenment.
Brahma
The Hindu god of creation
Brinjal
Aubergine
Burqa
An enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of concealing the entire body, usually consists of the Jilbāb, the loose body cloak, plus the Hijab, the head-covering, and the Niqab, the face veil.
Caliph
A leader of an Islamic community
Catafalque
Raised platform that is used to support the coffin or body of the deceased during the funeral ceremony, the word stems from the Latin word Catafalco meaning scaffolding.
Chaprassi
Doorkeeper, messenger
Chatterjee
Person who talks a lot, gossip
Chugha
A cloak worn over tunic
Dhobi
A community in India or Pakistan who specialise in washing clothes.
Dhows
Arab style boat with one or more lateen sails.
Djinn
An invisible spirit or genie, believed to influence mankind.
Eid-ul-Fitr
The Islamic festival marking the end of Ramadan.
Enuresis
Incontinence
Feringhee
Urdu word meaning outsider, often used to denote people of Portuguese origin in India
Funtoosh
Finished, washed up or a sense of ending.
Ganesh
The elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom
Grundrisse
Outline, taken from the political treatise written by German political economist Karl Marx, Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy
Hadith
A narrative record of the sayings of Muhammad.
Hakimi
Traditional Indian herbal medicine
Hamal
A porter
Hartal
Strike action, the total shutdown of industry as a form of civil disobedience, used often during the time of the Indian Independence Movement
Holi
The Hindu Festival of Colours, celebrating the last day of winter
Houris
Beautiful, voluptuous maidens that, in Islam, become the companions of the pure in paradise
Indra
In Hindu mythology, the King of the Gods and the Lord of Heaven
Itr
Very pure fragrance, perfume
Jahannam
Hell, in Islam
Jain
A follower of Jainism, an ancient religion from India that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world
Jallianwala Bagh
A public garden at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, and site of the 1919 massacre by the British army
Jawans
Soldier, troops
Kailasa
In Hinduism Lord Shiva, the destroyer of evil and sorrow, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain Kailasa, where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Parvati
Kali-Yuga
According to Hindu scripture, the Iron Age which began at the end of Krishna's bodily lifespan and will last 432,000 years, placing its conclusion in the year AD 428899
Kasaundies
Sliced Mango Pickle
Khansama
Cook
Khichri
A comfort food made from rice lentils and vegetables, the inspiration for the English dish, Kedgeree
Kolis
An ethnic group of people from the coastal regions of Maharashtra and greater Mumbai, who speak the Marathi language, predominantly farmers or fishers
Kriat
Extremely venomous snake found in South-East Asia
Kurta
A traditional loose fitting shirt that falls to the knee, usually worn over loose fitting pyjama like trousers
Langoors
Lemurs
Lathi -stick
Policeman’s truncheon
Leander and Hero
In Greek mythology, Leander fell in love with Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite. He drowned swimming across the sea of Hellespont to meet her.
Lok Sabha
The directly elected lower house of the Parliament of India, also titled the House of the People
Lungi
A flowing garment worn by men around the waist, particularly in hot regions where the humidity makes wearing trousers unpleasant, also known as a sarong or dhoti.
Maharaj
A Hindu Prince
Mahatma
Sanskrit for ‘Great Soul,’ a person thought to have great wisdom, selflessness and a love of humanity
Maha – Yuga
The Hindu cosmic cycle. The infinitely recurring periods of the universe, comprising its creation, preservation and dissolution. These cycles are measured in periods of progressive ages, called yugas. See Kali - Yuga
Mahrattas
Speakers of the Marathi language
Maya
An illusion, a manifestation of reality, Hindus seek to "pierce the veil" of Maya in order to glimpse the transcendent truth.
Mehndi
Ceremony held on the eve of the marriage where a henna artist or a relative applies mehndi, henna art, to the bride’s hands and feet.
Muezzin
Muslim crier who calls the hour of daily prayers
Mughal Empire
The Mongol conquers of India, who established an empire that lasted from 1526 to 1856.
Muhalla
A neighbourhood or locality, often it describes a Muslim area and can often be used derogatively
Mullah
An educated Islamic man trained in traditional religious law, usually holding an official post
Nakkoo
Person with an outsized nose or curiosity, a Nosey-Parker
Nanga-Parbats
Translates to Naked Mountain, it is the ninth-highest mountain in the world found in Pakistan on the western edge of the Himalayas
Naxalite movement
A group of far-left revolutionary communists named from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal where the movement originated.
Nibu Pani
Sweet Paan or Betel
Pakora
A dish of chopped onion and vegetables coated with batter and deep fried
Plebiscite
A public referendum
Puja
The ritual act of cleansing
Purana
Hindu sacred writings comprising popular myths and legends and other traditional lore
Purdah
From Urdu, literally meaning curtain, the practice among Muslims and some Hindus for women to cover their bodies and conceal their form from public observation
Qutb Minar
The world’s tallest minaret tower situated in the Qutb complex of ancient Hindu ruins in Delhi, India
Radna and Krishna
In Hinduism Radha is a cowherd maiden who was the favourite of the deity Lord Krishna and was said to control him with her love.
Rickshaw
Human- pulled or bicycle-powered cart which seats one or two persons
Sadhu
A Hindu mystic or wandering monk
Sahib
Sir, Master - stems from an Arabic term which literally translates to owner or proprietor
Salaam
The Arabic greeting for peace
Sarkar
Government
Shaitan
In Islam, a rebellious djinn who leads men astray
Shatranj
An ancient form of chess originated in India
Shikara
Type of wooden boat found on Lake Dal and other waterways in Kashmir
Succubi
In folklore a demon assuming female form to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep - the male counterpart is the Incubus
Takht
A throne or large chair used in the court of Persian kings
Tetrapod
In coastal engineering, a four-legged concrete structure used as armour on breakwaters to protect coasts from erosion
Zenana
Women's apartment, usually the inner chambers of the house reserved for women