I’ve lived in India my whole life. And yet, if you asked me to pen India down in one word, I could never do it. When I walk down a street, I always manage to look at at least 4 different cultures, listen to 4 different languages and observe 4 different traditions. And that is something that India shall always be proud of. But these days, globalization has taken a huge toll on it. Every day on the road, I see more and more people wearing jeans and t-shirts rather than the traditional “chudidhars” and “dhavani’s”. Five years back, I could walk across my street and see so many different colors in what people attired, but now westernization has made people lose the eye for colors, and stick to the dull colors that we have always seen people outside India wear. The interest people had in keeping up their values and traditions is lost along with the old and dying technology. We don’t care anymore about what we think and have started to act the way we assume people want us to. The fact that every other country looks up to India when it comes to culture has become insignificant today. And yet, every person who visits us returns awestruck by our values and traditions. But how is that?
We Indians have lost out a huge part of our cultural identity. Yet, what remains with us now is still amazing enough to blow anyone’s mind off. That can explain how exactly incredible, India used to be as “INDIA”. When the British took over, they cha
nged a lot of things, they brought in technology, communication, and transport but they left our traditions untouched. The immense respect that even they had to our culture, we Indians have lost today. We have given into westernization, and we’ve got so comfortable in the jeans and t-shirts that we have almost ignored our traditional “Dhavani’s”. We willingly accepted globalization and now, old traditions feel boring to us. What’s even worse is that each day we’re also becoming more materialistic. We care more about our phones and other gadgets than up keeping our culture.
Is there a solution to this? I don’t know, but I know that I’ll always keep trying to make a change. I’ll always be there behind the screen trying to keep up my morals and pass it on.
But at the end of the day, I realize one thing.As much as India has lost and as many changes, as she has undergone, she still has so much to go on. Today, no one can give you a clear definition of what India is. We have as many versions as the number of outsiders who have visited us. One person would tell you about the poverty-stricken democracy, while another would tell you about some of the most beautiful sights that you would find here. One person would tell you about the people who spend hours watching sad soaps and another would tell you about the friendly people he has met here. And this is what every Indian is proud of, the truth behind each of these stories. While we still have a lot to learn, we also have some of the most amazing things one would ever see in his life, and it is our duty to preserve them.
Earlier this year, I had gone to a local hill station. There was a cultural fest going on and trust me, it was mind-blowing. There was a performance of almost every style of dance discovered by man, right from the local “Kuthu” to the royal “Ballet”. We Indians have a community that is open to all cultures in the world, a community that will gladly include you, as one of their own, and a community that deserves world recognition. And that’s where India makes its mark.
India isn’t just a fusion of other countries. We have our own pride too. I remember what I once told a friend of mine who lives in America when it came up. I told her, “We might have a mix of a lot of things, but we have things like the lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri wood pigeon that are unique to us and cannot be found elsewhere. Australia might be famous for its orchids, but we have our own variety of endemic orchids. We have the Taj Mahal and we have Bollywood. Top that if you can!” and I’ll repeat that to everyone who reads this. India may not be at the top when it comes to technology but hey, we have things that no other country can ever beat.
India is the birthplace of four different religions. She has everything from snow-capped mountains to sun-washed beaches, tranquil temples to feisty festivals.
Diversity in culture, languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food and customs differ from place to place within the country but nevertheless possess a commonality. India is the only country in the world to have so many religions and beliefs. The culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse sub-cultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old. Food is no exception. The variety of delicacies available in India is intangible. Even an Indian wouldn’t be entirely aware of the myriad of food specialties specific to the country.
And that is why any day, I will proudly say, “I am Shreya Balaji, but more so, I am an INDIAN”.