By Varun Shrivats:
Ever wondered why the word “homesick” came into existence, while a word like “housesick” couldn’t do so? Because when people areÂ away from their natural place of living — they miss more than just the “house” part of it. They miss the memories attached to it, and the people and the events that gave birth to those memories. This brings out the difference between the words “house” and “home”.Â When a place of stay is given a meaning, a life which reflects that of its inhabitants, it transforms from a “house” to a “home”.
A very important entity that helps transform a house to a home is one calledÂ culture. Every one of us must have come across this word at least a million times, and many have even decided to dedicate their career in doing research and studies related to this word, but how many of us (here, the content of “us” has been narrowed down to resemble the phrase “us Indians”) are actually proud of our version of this word? Put simply, how many amongst “us” have shown sincere appreciation of our Indian culture?
If there is one inherent trait of us Indians that represents the “two sides of a coin” phrase most appropriately.Â It would be the one that lets outsiders have their way with us. Right from the time of arrival of the Aryans up to that of the British-our country has been one easy place for foreigners to come and rule. This has had it’s pros and cons, and 9 out of the top 10 pros are just different ways of saying that our culture became richer, and we became more advanced technologically.
Any sociologist would agree with the fact that the Indian culture is one of the richest in the world. Our culture is an amalgamation of several cultures, which prevailed in different parts of the world, during different time periods. The number of religions and languages in our country is a testimony to the vastness and richness of our culture. Apart from being rich, our tradition is also one of the oldest, dating back to 8000 B.C.
The Indus Valley civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It was also the most prosperous one of its time, making it a stand-out civilization. Then, this civilization died down, and in came the Aryans. They too, got with them, fresh new aspects that were added to our culture. Theirs was one of the most important and talked about immigration and their interaction with the indigenous people- the Dravidians, led to a smooth blend of the two cultures.
This pattern continued. Different time periods saw different people come to our country and rise to power, like the Mauryans, the Guptas etc. Greek Ambassadors were sent here, and this further helped enrich our culture. While all this happened in the north and middle parts of our country, the south was witnessing parallel periods of change, with rulers like Pallavas, Cholas, and Cheras rising to power and subsequently declining.
Another important conquest was that by the Muslim rulers of the middle-east, and hence was witnessed the rise and fall of the Delhi Sultanate. After this period, the Mughal emperors reigned over our country for several centuries, before the British and other European countries invaded it.
One big drawback of the British invasion was that unlike previous conquerors, they did not come here to live and help us prosper. They came to exploit the people, physically and economically, for their own benefits. But till this time, no empire (maybe with the exception of the Mughal Empire) reigned throughout our nation, and hence when the whole country was cruelly exploited, the concept of a “nation” got instilled in our minds for the first time. In the meantime, new elements kept adding on to our culture.
Now, after independence, the fad of the day seems to be to follow and ogle at the westerners and the rock bands that they follow. I’m not trying to say that this is entirely bad. All I’m trying to say here is that there is nothing shameful in ogling at, or at least appreciating our own culture. I have to say this, because the youth of our country don’t really seem to agree with this. Listening to classical Hindustani music is apparently not as cool as listening to Iron Maiden or Led Zeppelin.
The questions that are about to be asked following this are not meant to be forceful. They are merely posted with the intention of helping people contemplate on the way they perceive their culture. In which other culture can we get to experience vast and intricate mythologies, like Ramayana and the Mahabharata? In which other culture can we witness so many beautiful dance forms, like Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi? In which other culture can we enjoy art portrayed so exquisitely, like the wall paintings of Ajanta and Ellora? In which other culture can we marvel at astounding architectural masterpieces, like the Taj Mahal? And which other culture spans over a land as huge as ours?
So I think it’s time for us to realize the importance ofÂ Our culture and traditions. These are too important to be lost due to carelessness and disregard. Oh and one final sentence:Â No need to look for cultural richness elsewhere; it’s all here- in our homes, in our culture, and in our country: India.
Image courtesy: http://www.indiacultureblog.com/2010/09/18/translations-%E2%80%93-a-big-part-of-indian%E2%80%99s-culture/