Why Culture is very important in India


India is a very diverse country and the only way in which it can remain united is what we call as Unity in Diversity. In other words, we need to appreciate this diversity, with all its unique characteristics and then go forward. Some aspects of this diversity and the importance of culture is sought to be explained in this article.

Introduction

Irrespective of whatever State we live in, we can always observe certain unique characteristics of people of that particular State. These common codes of behavior is commonly called culture. It is essential that we retain all aspects of that culture in whatever form possible, to preserve the Unity of this country. This is sought to discussed with specific reference to a) beliefs, traditions and practices b) spiritual practices c) rural-specific practices d) urban-specific practices and e) ways to preserve culture, "as it is".

Beliefs, traditions, and practices

There are several common beliefs in our culture. As Indians, we believe in Karma and fate, and this often cuts across religions. We believe in a huge number of "to do" practices specific to a particular caste or community. We believe in respecting elders. This is more so in North India, where the elders have a huge say in family matters. We practice all the traditional ways of doing things.

Some examples are in order. Across India, we see a big following for the wisdom of the God men. Apart from the commercial God men, we do find any number of excellent people who preach all that is good in the Vedas, the Upanishads, Ramayanam and Mahabaratham and this also includes the Holy Bible and Quran. The Muslims do fast for many days during Ramzan. The Christians follow the tradition of doing excellent social service and feel very proud about it. Such examples go on and on.

Apart from the positive spin offs, we also notice that each of these practices are the cause of peace and harmony in our society. We should actively encourage such practices and ensure that the practices and institutions do flourish at all times. For example, some of the finest colleges were started and are still run by Christians. They are now open to all, and are doing a splendid job.

Spiritual practices

Spirituality in India is linked to human compassion, to empathy to a huge number of good practices and superb attitudes at times of calamity. It is always noticed that 97% of those who believe in God, and in all spiritual practices, actually pull the rest of the three per cent also, into doing something good for the society.

There are superb places where one can find peace and harmony. The Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry is one such. The Gnananda Swami temple premises at a village called Tapovanam, three kilometers ahead of a town called Tirukovilur, on the Tiruvannamali to Tirukovilur route, is one such. Ditto for the superb prayer hall at the Ramana Ashram, the Asram of the great saint Ramana Maharishi.

Spirituality helps us to lead balanced lives. We tend to strike a balance between the commercial aspect and spiritual aspect of our lives and take a more empathetic view of everything that we see around us. This is a one splendid aspect of our culture.

One has to visit a town called Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, and go towards an area called the "palakkarai area". One can see the Hindus and Muslims living in perfect harmony. The Hindus regularly visit the Nagur Darga ( around 100 kkilometers by road from Tiruchirapalli, well connected by buses) and the Muslims happily donate towards all temple renovation in the area. Some decades ago, there was a nasty fire accident in a marriage hall. Many died. Yet, it was a group of Muslims who were on the way to their mosque who helped. When asked by reporters as to why they helped out, even when they knew the risks involved, the Muslims just replied that Allah had sent them there. Their life is not important. They saved so many lives and that is important. This news was carried in some many magazines.

Rural specific-practices

One has to really see the spirit of the rural masses of India. In Tamil Nadu, the rural populace have many a tradition that still gives us our milk and our food. The people of urban India, often do not understand that all milk, vegetables and rice and other spices comes to us after so much of hard work put in by our rural folks. They have fresh river bath in many locations. They use fresh raw materials for their cooking and literally grow all vegetables needed for their household through the organic farming method. They are simple, and humble. They form the backbone of modern India as well, as this last generation, now into their thirties and forties, who have not studied, come to the cities for employment and build all our flats and apartments and get back to their villages the same day.

Yet, the urge to see that their sons and daughters are educated at least in Government schools and colleges has helped the rural folk to ensure that the next generation may not be full time into farming. Even among owners of such farms.

This is also something that we need to encourage. Even the most educated persons do continue to maintain links with their rural relatives and even contribute to the growth of the economy through economic activities in the service sector. For example, a number of new small grocery shops and cell phone shops and the small hotels, all spring up, targeting this population only. This is also something that needs to be encouraged.

Urban specific practices

The urban specific practices, that now see a massive churning in terms of the battle between needs and wants also needs to be encouraged, as this is now an important aspect of keeping the economic engine going. For example, the growth of the shopping malls and the multiplexes. These new markets are also important as these now reflect a new culture. However, the remaining parts of our culture is still intact. For example, the IT crowd is also religious and they also flock to the temples on the weekends. The balance is still there.

The urban centers are also fountainheads of all creativity and innovation, in terms of new markets for everything. So, we need to perpetuate the urban-specific practices and related culture too.

Ways to preserve culture, "as it is"

The joint family system, which is still practiced in many parts of India, is now a big draw for thousands of foreign researchers in sociology. Similarly, the temple practices, the yearly immersing of the main idol in the Meenakshi Temple at Madurai, for example, have to be religiously followed and perpetuated. The glorious Balaji temple at Tirupathi, is a modern wonder. The social work done through the temple collections is now a global interest. The way we run our Railways is now the subject of a huge amount of research. The mere running of Railways is not the idea. The entire service economy that runs on rails in big cities, is also a ;superb part of our culture.

We need to preserve several aspects of our culture, even when we absorb new aspects of our culture, in the urban areas. Everything is important, as Unity in Diversity is encouraged like never before.

We need to understand the importance of our culture and also examine ways and means to preserve everything in our culture.


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