As Indians, we claim to be multiculturalism personified. We have an immense amount of cultural and linguistic diversities, and we share a lot of things like cultural norms, food habits, apparel conventions, linguistic conventions, and many other things. Nowadays, with the easy availability of social media and mass mediums like television, radio, newspapers, we have got to know so much about each other that whenever we feel partial about any particular aspect of any of our culture, we try to implement it in our own lives too.
• Apparel exchanges:
A Bengali girl celebrating her wedding ceremony, wearing a Punjabi styled lehenga, or a Gujrati, wearing a south patola, is nothing to be shocked. Be it Madhubani of Bihar’s Madhubani or Maharashtra’s warli; we can see these patterns in any corner of India in the forms of sarees or other accessories. Though the Benarasi saree is the essence of Benaras, a traditional Bengali wedding is incomplete without a red Benarasi saree. We have many more other examples to prove that we never hesitate to welcome each other’s cultures or styles.
• Exchange in food delicacies:
Indian food variety is beyond any explanation, and the most exciting part is that each of the states has its variety of every recipe. Food has no boundary as such. You can get idli, dosa, vada, upama anywhere in the country. Dhoklas are common street foods among many others like chhole bhature, paratha, samosa, and many more.
History has also witnessed this exchange of food delicacies. When Aajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh, came to Kolkata, he had lost his kingship to the Britishers. But what he did not lose was his love for biriyani. His love for biriyani made his khansamah cook the biriyani without the gosht as Wajid Ali was incapable of affording it for his entire court. This way, when the Awadhi biriyani, transcended to Kolkata’s famous aloo biriyani, we hardly bother to know that. What we bother about is the taste. Though the origin and recipe are of some other place but just with an addition of potato, it has become the dish of Kolkata, and the people of Kolkata have entirely made it their own.
The phulki, which was originated in Bihar, have seen a lot of transitions in its form and have been titled as fuiki in Madhya Pradesh, paani patashi in Haryana, fuchka in Kolkata, gupchhup in Assam, and gol guppa in Delhi and Punjab to satisfy our taste buds with its flavors. And the most important part is that every form has its individuality, which makes it different from others but at the same time represents the unity as well.
• Exchange in language:
The perfect example of language exchange is seen in music, as we can see that nowadays, the Punjabi numbers are our favorite party songs. South Indian classical music also has a different appeal, which never fails to attract. We have seen a number of Hindi songs with the addition of Bengali folk, which shows the Bengali language’s popularity among the others.
Other than musical illustrations, we have many words that we use in our daily conversations like yaar, aiyyo, and many more. The most frequent comments that we use, along with our regional languages, are mostly Hindi and English.
Not only with English words, but we also have a soft corner for some other English aspects. Such as their rituals, foods, clothes, brands, companies, and even the accent too.
The start of the day with a coffee cup instead of strong tea is a small addition of the western culture in our daily lives. Other than this, the cake cutting ceremony in every occasion, adding a happy as a prefix of every greeting, celebrating Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s day with utmost grandeur also count in the list.
None of these are wrong or avoidable. Since colonization, we Indians are trying to be like the western people and have tried to adapt their cultures, habits, slangs, and appearances. But the problem lies in the partiality while choosing the subjects that we are implementing in our lives to be like them. We have always tried to eternalize those aspects which are easy to be digested. When it comes to gender equality, punctuality, work ethics, we fail miserably.
According to studies, over the past 40 years, the UK has seen women’s employment range from 57% to 78% until 2017. According to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in India, the number of women who work has reduced from 36% to 24% in a decade. The primary reasons are gender indifferences, lack of quality employment opportunities, no employment from a rural area, and many more.
We have been recognized as one who does not have any sincerity about time management and work ethics. We do not bother about being late, and if we do, there must be an instruction or pressure or cut in pay behind that. We have normalized being late so much that we would need a longer span or maybe eternity to overcome this.
Then come our stereotypes that do not end, even though we cherish multiculturalism with the utmost eagerness. It’s 2020, and the inter-state marriage is still unacceptable in our county. What is more shameful is that we still have categories like inter-caste, inter-community, inter-religion, inter-state, and many more, which we may not even know of.
Multiculturalism has not sufficed to break the stereotypes that we possess about the people of a particular state. The best example is our behaviour towards the people of the Northeast. They have been given distasteful titles for their facial attributes and body types, which is shameful. We have this conception that all the South Indians have the same skin complexion. All those who speak Bengali have been migrated from Bangladesh, and the list may go on and on. We may claim that we are one, but actually, there is a long way to go.
Multiculturalism is also responsible for the elopement of our regional art forms, which are getting suppressed under the glittery visual treats produced by western art forms. Our regional dance forms like Bengal’s chhau, Manipur’s jagoi, dance forms of Bihar like fagua, kajari, jumari are losing the charm because our eyes are now accustomed only to the western mediums of entertainment. I strongly feel that our folk songs are also getting suppressed under the high volumes of different forms of music.
We can choose what we would like and would dislike it. If we decide to dislike our own cultures, then it would automatically push us to like the other options that have been provided. If we chose to dislike or less like the things responsible for the elopement of our own culture, then we would be leaning towards our roots, and if the roots are strong, nothing can harm the tree. Along with that, we should also adopt those things which are progressive and broader, and that would be leading us to a better future shedding all the conservations and stereotypes that we have preserve throughout the years.