What Are Some of the Indian Influences in the Philippines?

Indian influences in the Philippines can be found in language, customs, myths and folklore. The Sri-Vijaya and Majapahit Indian empires had cultural and commercial relationships with early Filipinos through trade. The influence of Hinduism only began to decline when Islam was introduced in the 14th Century.

Twenty-five percent of the words in Tagalog, the primary language of the Philippines, are identified as having roots in Sanskrit. For example, sarong, which is a skirt, and potong, a turban, both have Indian origins. The earliest Filipino alphabet also has similarities to Sanskrit. Many words such as guro, meaning teacher, are tied to Sanskrit (guru). Several Filipino customs can also be traced to their Indian roots. In a practice called sampaguita, Filipinos greet guests with a flower garland, following Hindu tradition. Paninilbihan is a Filipino courting custom that was also influenced by Indian culture. Paninibihan involves a suitor helping his beloved's family with household chores. Early Filipino myths and heroes have ties with Indian myths, as well, such as Bathala, the supreme god of ancient Tagalog, who is believed to be based upon Bhattara Guru or "highest teacher" in Sanskrit. Filipino literature and folklore also evidence the connections of these two cultures through the Maranao epic, Darangan and others.