Monday, 6 August 2012

Fearing Identity loss

Off late, I am getting a bit agitated when someone, including my wife, who takes up on people talking about 'Indian Culture'. This recent post of her's is a vent of the thought about 'Indian Culture'. I thoroughly disagree with her (for yet another time) albeit not completely.

Nope, I am not going to support that NUT, who said, wearing short dresses is a shame to Indian culture nor the person who asked 'what job did the girl from Guwahati had to do in the pub'. My questions are simple yet not trivial, complex yet not unanswerable.

1. What is Indian Culture?
2. Where do you find yourself in the Indian Culture?
3. If you say citing 'Indian Culture' is bull-something, is there anything equivalent?
4. What is your life style or the pattern of your lives?

To me Indian Culture is yet another chaotic thing as the Indian Language. Do you know that Hindi is not our national language as per constitution? The Constitution has given Hindi the status of the official language and not the national language. Hindi is an official language because majority of the population speak and understand (or atleast try and get there) Hindi. Since there are so many languages and many dialects with in each of the languages in India, arriving at a National language is akin to asking a lady to direct you to the right exit. I would compare the term 'Indian Culture' to something similar.

Indian Culture is something that you think IS YOUR culture and IS NOT everything you think is THE culture. So, according to me, if you can understand and project your Identity that is all the culture. Culture is not something we need to project when we go shopping or cinema or to a pub. Association towards your culture should be when there is a need to exhibit it. The need could be in the form of National presentations/representations, special occasions, days you wish to wear (mind you, wearing is just not dressing up :-)) your identity.

While I strongly support A, that the generation cannot be such lame in shaming India with the 'Indian Culture' tag, on the other hand I do have my questions. I cannot stop from thinking that the war against culture makes us forget our identity. Often identity/originality is lost, let go, trying to define ourselves as someone else.

I am an ordinary Tamil Brahmin (no horns, no strings other than my poonal), my fear goes a long way in losing my Brahmin identity. I do enjoy the chorus of 'We will, we will rock you!', like I knew it the moment the album was released ;-), I also enjoy the chorus of 'Chittam Chirugalea.. Inburuvar embaavaai' (that is Thiruppavai by Andal) like I knew it when Andal penned it or the way it ends as '..Vayyam Sumappadhu Vambu'.

People (including my wife) would call me a priest, a pazham or whatever, but this is my identity and you may give names you want to. They say 'You will feel the importance of something only when you see it going away or gone'. For me that is the very fear. Though it is inevitable that these things keep changing generation after generation, you should give it to me that I can take a slow killing poison than a head shot!

Now that we are going to have our baby, I want to provide (and not thrust) all those that pertains (with in my reach and practicality and known to me) to our identity, to my next generation. Ofcourse, TO BE OR NOT TO BE would the next generation's wish, but who are we to stop providing?

To cover up my answer for the Q4 above, I feel culture is your Identity, root, practise. To maintain it, is difficult; to ditch it, is on a drop of a hat; to ridicule it, makes you think learned; but once you have lost it and when you feel it is not there, it would be a huge vacuum.