The word ‘Culture’ originates from the Latin ‘culture’ stemming from ‘colure’, meaning “to cultivate”.
It refers to symbolic things and activities used by a particular group of people to give them significance and importance. Culture is reflected in music, literature, painting and sculpture, theatre and film.
Culture can also be referred to as the human capacity to classify, codify and communicate their experiences symbolically. Based on these definitions, we can truly consider Indian culture as one of richest in the world.
However, it also means that the less we perform activities, which are part of the group that we belong to, the more endangered our culture becomes.
So I ask myself – “Is Indian culture on the decline? Are we replacing our values and traditional practices with others, and is that such a bad thing?” For starters, I don’t go around in a ‘Dhoti’ with ‘Tilak’ on my forehead; instead I put on my denims, stick the i-pod headphones in my ears and listen to some punk rock.
Is culture defined and frozen in time? So should we all be in Dhotis and follow the caste system, or do we let ourselves evolve slowly? Is it slow death of our culture as the traditionalist would call it?
Quite clearly, as we look around us, the world is not frozen in time so it must be some core rules that transcend time.
What are these rules? Respect your parents, work hard, and ask forgiveness for your sins once in awhile, etc… Woah!!! Hang on! these are too generic, you say! “Everyone pas these.” Ahhhh! So, culture helps differentiate one group from another therefore there must be something unique about us Indians.
Is it our food, the cricket, Bollywood, shared history, our religious celebrations, etc? Or is it also our values such as honesty, our humility our respect and warmth for one another. Well, I have not changed as far as those are concerned.
Will it sound better if I said I am increasing my cultural horizons to include] other things like Punk rock and RAP? Can I get away with it if I change slowly instead of quickly will start with music and clothes for the 20 years of my life. Then I might tweak my film choice from Bollywood! Hollywood. Sorry, I forgot video games… I need my Video games and MTV shows.
Well, humility reduces confidence so let’s get rid of that one as well.
Elders, they don’t know it all, so I will listen to them just a little less every year, following my philosophy of slow change. I will dye my hair blonde, and so on and so forth. I am sure nobody will notice until it’s too late eventually they will give up on me and call me a lost cause, until I make a success (myself in the States or some other foreign country and then they will accept me again.
Culture can be quite fickle really! It is actually ‘success with your family’ in disguise.