Know Your Culture To Hand It Down #MustRead

Posted on October 28, 2010 in Culture-Vulture

By Harleen Kaur:

The culture of India has been shaped not only by its long history, unique geography and diverse demography, but also by its ancient heritages. How many times have we read/heard or even written the above line or something similar? But is the Indian culture really one of the greatest in present times? The answer to that would sadly be a big no! Indian culture today is nothing but a sad replica of what it used to be – a very colourful, diverse and beautiful mix of different Indian regional and other practices.

American film director Spike Lee once mentioned in an interview that “culture should be celebrated by everybody and not just those belonging to it.” I ask you this: how many of us have friends/neighbours who belong to different regions or religions and we can say proudly say that we know their beliefs, customs, food preparations, etc as well as our own? Very few!

A couple of years back a college professor asked our class “How many of you are proud of the Indian culture? Why?” All of us poor half asleep students raised our hands wondering why he was asking such boring questions at 7 a.m in the morning! The next thing we know is that we are asked bizarre questions like what festival is greatly celebrated in Kerala and how? What are the eating habits of people in Kashmir; A dance form from Orissa; An Indian form of martial arts; The religious practices of Jains etc. Sad to say none of us were able to answer the questions that were asked. And after a heated discussion and debate the professor asked the last question which was “If you don’t know what consists of Indian culture how can you really be proud of it and pass it on to the coming generations?

Indian culture is like a garden of a hundred blossoming flowers which come together to form a beautiful and unique mosaic. The adaptation of different cultures is what makes Indian culture even more colourful. The tradition of wearing mangal sutra and sindoor has been passed to every Indian woman irrespective of her religion. The people all over the country enjoy sweets like ‘jalebis’,‘laddoos’ etc which have been part of the culture for so long that no one can tell their place of origin! The ‘mehendi’, ‘gajra’ , etc are all part of the Indian bride’s ensemble from every corner of India.

Food for thought: A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people and no culture can exist exclusively.

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  • Gurpreet Singh

    Dear Harleen,
    Very well written.This reminds us how unconnected we are with each other although we live so closeby.There is a great need to know each others likings of food, religion, their history, festivals celebrations, marriage ceremonies. It is only few who know a lot , else the people in general are so much involved in their daily routines that it becomes a case of self centering. India being so rich in culture should be explored by the Indians just the way the foreigners do by coming here and spending time to know and understand the depth of each aspect of different lifestyles of various religions.
    The media has been helpful in making us aware about it. However it is us who must take interest in knowing the richness of Indian culture and not just learn by coming across by chance.

    More topics wanted by Harleen to express the areas of shortcomings to be improved upon.


    Gurpreet Singh

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