1. Show how rice is so important in Monsoon Asia? What are the “four stoops”?

In Monsoon Asia, rice is the most important crop and is something all Asians have in common. Rice was originally found in Southern China and parts of India, where it became popular to grow and eat. Rice is vital to these people in order to live. Farming rice seems to work the best in this part of the world. The four stoops are the process they use to grow rice.

The four stoops include planting the rice in a wet area, transplanting it to a dry area, weeding the plants, and finally harvesting the rice. This process is done by both males and females in the family. Men prepare the fields and women finish the rest of the process. Rice isn’t just an important food in Monsoon Asia, its apart of their culture.

2. Describe what you understand the levels of pollution are in Monsoon Asia currently?

From my understanding, the levels of pollution in Monsoon Asia are some of the worst in the world.

China has several factories throughout the country that use large quantities of coal for energy and because of this, China has high amounts of air pollution. Other parts of Monsoon Asia have pollution, for example along the Ganges River in India. Vast amounts of trash and sewage end up in the river, which is unsanitary because people also wash their clothes and bathe in it. I believe the pollution levels are this high for a few reasons, the first being that the cities are too densely populated, second is because of lack of education, and third is poverty.

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3. How do Asians seem to see nature and natural objects as significant in their religious/spiritual lives? Think about myths of creation and concepts of natural power.

Nature is a central part of Asian culture. This stems from different religious beliefs, particularly from Hinduism and Buddhism. For example, Hindus think the Ganges River is a Goddess. Thousands of Hindus travel to the Ganges and bathe in it as a way of purification. Buddhists believe that when the Buddha first became enlightened, it was under a fig tree. Buddhist people, especially monks, typically pray, worship, and meditate, in temples built around nature. They plant gardens and all of this is designed to pay respect. Buddhists and Hindus also make pilgrimages to Mount Kailash because both religions think the mountain is sacred. No matter what religion you are in Asia, nature holds some type of importance.

4. What is the monsoon and how does it affect millions of people every year?

The monsoon is a yearly weather system that brings large amounts of rain to parts of Asia. It affects millions of Asian people for a few reasons, one being because they believe the seasonal monsoon comes from the gods. The monsoon is also important to this part of the world for farming purposes. Without the Monsoon on a yearly basis, these people would be unable to grow rice because it requires wet conditions. Asian people depend on the Monsoon yearly around the months of May to September. Sometimes the Monsoon can be harmful, especially with powerful winds and heavy rain. Flooding is responsible for a lot of destruction and death to people in Monsoon Asia, especially along the coast.

5. Using either the great rivers in this world region or the plate tectonics effects as examples, discuss how each is both negative and positive. How do people in Asia deal with these mighty impacts?

Natural disaster in Asia is nothing out of the ordinary. This disaster happens for multiple reasons, but I’ll discuss one, plate tectonics. In certain parts of Asia, the Earth’s plates collide forming mountains and volcanoes. Hundreds of these volcanoes have formed in Asia, and the people deal with the consequences of eruptions. They do this because the soil on the sides of the volcanoes is extremely fertile and good for agriculture. Plate tectonics also causes earthquakes and tsunamis which can be devastating to densely populated cities. Although these natural disasters are devastating, many Asians see it as a sign of unhappiness from the gods. These people ensure to do better in life to keep the gods satisfied and to prevent other natural disasters.

6. What is the Varna and jati system?

The Jati system is an idea from India and the Hindu religion which places people in society based off social class. The Jati system has different levels, the untouchables are at the bottom who have menial jobs like a street sweeper, next are Sudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya, and on top are Brahmin. People can move up in this system, but only if they have good karma and reincarnate in another life as a higher caste. Varna is basically the word for caste, which is why we call it the Caste System. This system is still carried out today in India despite the people that want it to change. Its been a basis for India for along time and is important in their culture.

7. What distinguishes Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism from Mahayana Buddhism?

Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism have similar beliefs stemming from the original Buddhism in India. Although they are similar, they have a distinguishable difference. Mahayana Buddhism has core beliefs of the original Buddhism, but as the religion moved north towards China, the people made some changes. These changes include building temples to worship the Buddha, adding Bodhisattvas which are similar to priests, and the fact that you aren’t required to leave your family to achieve nirvana.

8. Select either the Confucian idea of the right relationships OR the five pillars of Islam and describe the concepts and their significance to monsoon Asia.

Although it may not seem like a popular Asian religion, Asia has a very high Islamic population in places like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the teachings of Islam, Muslims follow the Five Pillars which are basic rules to live by. These include belief that Allah is the only God and Muhammad was the messenger, prayer five times daily, giving to charity, fast during Ramadan, and a pilgrimage to Mecca. This is followed very strictly by the Muslim people in Monsoon Asia and has become a part of their culture.

9. The family and marriage and filial obligations (ancestor worship) play an important role in Monsoon Asia society and cultures, one that continues to be important today. Please explain what this role is, how it is processed and the reasons for its existence.

This idea of ancestor worship, or filial piety, is an ethical idea made by Confucius and it still plays an enormous role in Asia today. Filial piety is the idea that you should respect your ancestors and people who are above you in your family and society. For example, youngest son respects oldest son, mother respects father, citizen respects emperor. In places like Japan and China people bow to others. Bowing is a good example of this idea because when you bow to someone you are showing respect. Most Asian people I know always show admiration for their family because this concept is very important to them.

10. After reading Chapters 21, Introduction, 2 and 3, what cultural comments can you make about the people we are to study?

After reading the first four chapters, I think the Asian people have some of the strongest and influential cultures on the planet. I think religion is mostly responsible for the culture and daily life of the people. These people are very disciplined and family oriented. Its interesting to observe how differently we live in western culture. When I see pictures of air pollution in China, and water pollution in India, it makes me wonder how these people live in these conditions for their whole life. I think what keeps them around through the poverty, pollution, and natural disaster is their strong culture, heritage, and their ability to persist through anything.

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