“The measure of a nation’s true success is the amount of culture it has contributed to the truth, the moral energy and intellectual happiness, the spiritual hope and consolation of mankind.”
– James Russell Lowell
Ram inquired discreetly, “Why are the women from the bride’s family dressed in an orthodox fashion?” I replied in a low voice, “They have been strong and loyal to their culture till today”. This was the conversation which was sparked off between me and Ram when we saw the ladies of the bride’s family during the marriage ceremony of my friend Himanshu. The train of thought started at this juncture when I realized that the youth of today are intrinsically humiliated of their respective cultures. India is a country where we have people belonging to diverse religion, caste and race therefore it has numerous cultures. This has resulted in a mixed response towards the cultural progress of our country occasioned both by riots as well as ethnic cohesion between different communities.
Culture is reflected in many aspects of our daily life and it can be distinguished through humble activities such as eating habits, art, values and traditional wisdom. The fact that this multiplicity of cultural values can lead to a better future has been obscured from the youth of the current era. To incorporate values and ethics from different cultures does not only bring us closer to being a better person but also blends peace between two opposing societies. This aspect of power of culture was made clear to me when some of my friends came over to my house for breakfast. The moment they saw my mother they touched her feet in reverence (called Charansparsh in Hindi) and in return she blessed them all by placing her right hand over their heads one by one as they attended to my mother’s benedictions. Although I appreciated this gesture of respect by my friends I was startled by the happiness on my mother’s face. I enquired her, after my friends took leave, “Mother, Charansparsh is not part of our culture but still you seemed delighted by it. How come?” (It is to be noted here that I am a Christian and we constitute a minority populace in our country whereas my friends belong to majority Hindu). My mother realizing my ignorance said the following lines which will forever be a prized possession in my heart, “Culture knows no boundaries and one should always strive to imbibe the good from every community irrespective of the differences in culture as it is the only path to achieve peace in this world.” Even though I am a law student I couldn’t argue because I knew that there are some universalized truths which cannot be disputed or militated against. Peace was the underlying message. The lesson I learnt that day was that we all belong to wide ranging cultures but the road to achieve peace, harmony and concord in this anarchy-ridden society is only one i.e., through respecting all cultures on an equal footing. It is evident that respecting cultures of people from all walks of life is a difficult task but the idea is, to at least put in an effort, to realize the significance of culture in today’s materialistic world. The mantra of understanding the power of culture can be summed up as follows, ‘One should not form opinions but be opinionated, and one should not be stubborn but be respectful towards other cultures then only will we reach the summit of global peace.’
My petite effort through this essay might not change the world for the way it is but I sincerely hope that it triggers a meaningful insight into the minds of the younger generation to nurture the farm of their respective cultures in order to accomplish fruits of peace, stability and tranquility in our society. The power of culture is immense and since the future of world lies on the shoulders of youth we have to eradicate the differences subsisting amongst us through comprehending that ultimately we all belong to only one culture which is known as humanity.