Flicking through the channels on a wonderful Sunday summer afternoon I caught Britney Spears giving an interview. On being asked for a message for all her Indian fans, she said “yeah, I love my Indian fans, I love India, always wanted to come there, the tradition, culture, so amazing, awesome…” Britney Spears is just one of the several celebrities who have made such futile comments on our culture and tradition. I often wonder what is it about our culture that they perceive to love so much when they know so little.
The Indian culture has been very misunderstood not only by a vast majority around the world but to an extent, even by our very countrymen. Today’s Indian youth have taken a stand towards western style of living which, as understandable as it is, with the globalizing trend, is at the cost of eradicating a culture that has been followed in our country almost since the beginning of time. More than the principle adaptation of western culture, it’s the perception of our‘s as a culture of old practices that has developed amongst the Indian youth today.
For at least a thousand years, a number of religions have thrived in India, each with wide gulf of social and cultural diversities. Each religion has its own philosophy, theology, mythology, ceremonies and rituals. Despite these outward diversities of religious beliefs and practices, the vast bulk of the people of India had developed certain common fundamental values of life based on the precept of human dignity which sustain and develop into a great catholic society.
Exhibiting one of the highest forms of human values, the Indian culture allowed people to live and develop their personality according to their own belief. Indian culture teaches that everyone must assimilate the spirit of the other and yet preserve one’s individuality and grow according to one’s own law of growth.
What the Indian youth need to observe is the fact that our culture offers every one of us the option to set our own boundaries. We don’t have any regulations that bind our activities; we don’t have definite rules that raise questions on the commitment involved. That liberty which our Indian culture offers is the reason why even as of today our homes still follow the traditions that have been imparted from one generation to another. The sincerity with which one has to follow principles of our culture is not definite, hence even for the Indian youth today, it acts as a source of discipline and guidance, which has been so ethically proven for over hundreds of years.
The Indian culture cannot be defined as a specific code and in that lies our greatest strength. I believe it’s time that we, as the country’s youth, acknowledge the freedom, disciple and integrity it offers each one of us as individuals and to our country as a whole.
In today’s modernized world, sustaining a culture as intricate and significant as ours might seem like a challenging task. But, if the youth of the country learn to “love” and not “live” with the culture it shall trickle down to a task for once, easier done than said.
We are brought up in this very same culture, we have lived with it all our lives, and these cultures are what define our nation to the outside world. If we stand today as the patriotic youth of this country we shall find taking pride in our culture a choice. This is the only definite thing that binds us; to love the country is to love its culture. So, the question now is, Do You love your culture?
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The writer is a Raipur based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz.
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I believe in taking pride in ones heritage and culture while accepting the background of others.
My parents were both born and raised in Palestine, a war torn country bordering the Mediterranean Sea, they left their homeland to come to America in search of opportunities and a better life. My siblings and I were all raised in America; however we paid annual visits to the homeland and therefore kept an essence of nationalism in our home.
Well, before September 11th that is.
After the attacks, Arabs and Muslims were shown in a negative light by the media, and several negative stereotypes surrounded us. People began to question our beliefs, our intentions, our lifestyles; it began to feel as if we were constantly under society’s microscope.
At the tender age of eight years old, I was first introduced to racism. Classmates would come up to me and state their parents no longer allowed them to speak with me, “because I am the enemy.” Suddenly I became the enemy, simply because I came from a different country and practiced a different religion. They made me feel as if I did not belong in this country. It seemed better, and safer, to hide where I was from and practice my own form of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Don’t ask me where I am from, and I won’t tell you.
Eventually, I became ashamed of being Palestinian and Muslim and afraid of what would happen if people were to ever find out I was “one of them.” Would they stop talking to me? Would they send me in for questioning about association with a terrorist organization I had never even heard of before? At that time, anything seemed possible.
It was not until I got older, and wiser, did I realize the beauty of diversity and the beauty of my heritage. America is not white, America is not black, America is American. We are all American. I had just a right to be in this country as the next person, I was not any better nor any worse than anybody else simply due to my race. In the Holy Quran, God tells us, “I created you into diverse nations and tribes that you may come to know one another.” I believe here in America we are fulfilling God’s wish and making it a reality.
I have nothing to be ashamed of; rather I have much to be proud of. I began to see the beauty of my own culture, my own country, and my own religion just by seeing the beauty of being in an atmosphere so rich in diversity.
I now hold a firm belief that if you lose contact with your heritage, you lose contact with yourself. Your culture is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. It should be held in esteem, not hidden in shame.
I am a Palestinian Arab Muslim and (finally) proud of it.
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