May our minds meet.
I bow to you.
If you think this is one tradition that only Indians follow, let me add that every press launch that I go to has some or the other foreigner beginning his address with a Namaste. Even while walking on Oxford street in London I have often met strangers direct a Namaste towards me. By the way, even waving is traditionally a friendly way of grabbing attention, acknowledging, or even parting the world over.
‘How about someone showing the middle finger?’ asked a friend once. I told him that even this is a universally understood traditional gesture of every emotion between disgust and rejection. Traditions aren’t always supposed to be chromosomally gentlemen, if I may say so. They can be funny, may trigger anger, and could simply pass by unnoticed.
Traditions are woven intrinsically with culture, religion, and local perceptions.
When we travel we discover new traditions.
Traditions are forever evolving.
Traditions are constantly disappearing.
Just as we have the tradition of throwing both wet and dry colour during Holi, people in Poland and Ukraine have ?migus-dyngus as their own Easter Monday for literally blasting each other with water. Songkran is the Thai water festival on their new year that is on 13 April and they have effectively converted it into an event that people from the world over come to see, participate, and enjoy.
New Year can be a boisterous tradition in some countries but in the UK people leave a coin outside their door at night and pick it up the next morning. To them this coin symbolises prosperity throughout the year. Bali celebrates Nyepi which means a 24 hour period of silence with no fires being lit, no travel, and definitely no talking.
For us in India the concept of a joint family is a tradition and not something that is unwillingly thrust upon us. This is probably what brings in a calm and cohesive life together. Fasting, we all know is another tradition in our country. Of course, we have plenty of days for vrats or upvas and have a choice of going along with our selection. This is one tradition that strengthens resolve within us besides awakening a feeling of gratitude for the good things that life comes with. We also have the Holy Ganga and our Holy Cow with their own set of stories and relevance.
Visiting a place of worship is a tradition that comes with its own benefits. I read somewhere that most temples are designed to be along magnetic lines of the earth to help positive energy converge. If you know this, you will also know that under the main idol is buried a copper plate and it is called the garbhagriha… and this also has everything to do with energy being spread far and wide. These are traditions that those build temples and other places of worship simply to usurp public land do not bother about… and so we are living in times when energy levels are abysmally low. India is full of ancient traditions hidden in symbols. The swastika is an example that represents the four constellations and the four vedas. But traditions are going for a six. Just look at what advertisement has done to atithi devo bhava and you’ll know what I mean. Even the swastika has become nothing better than a mere tattoo for selfies to be shared on Instagram. Anyway, this isn’t the point that I’m trying to make. What I am saying is that traditions need to be understood and read about and maybe given a contemporary story to make them relevant enough to the new gen.
Giving traditions a contemporary relevance is what a lot of people all over the world strive to do. We all know the way the tradition of releasing rice-paper lanterns has reached every corner of the world. Cheese chasing on Spring Bank holiday near Gloucester is a tradition that travel enthusiasts do not want to miss. Travelers want to go to Tuscany and Umbria to see the natives throw wooden cylinders and they say they are playing Ruzzola! Jarping in North-East England is when one attempts to crack someone else’s boiled egg without cracking his own… and they have turned this tradition into a championship now. Finland has wife-carrying championships… and I guess the climax in Dum Laga Ke Haisha. We in India are intent upon keeping alive the traditions that are followed in other countries… and assume that our own home-brewed cultural nuances are better kept aside. This isn’t right.
The truth is that the world is still moving ahead riding traditions. I remember my grandfather coming back to have another half-cup of tea if someone sneezed as he was leaving home. I guess this simply gave him some more time to recollect what he wanted to tell us all before leaving for the day and he was transforming a tradition into an opportunity. By the way, even in Ukraine people sit down together before leaving for a trip as they believe that this brings luck.
To me, every tradition is an opportunity to get involved in… come on, this is the only way we remain together in a world where the dichotomies introduced by literacy, jobs, and economy matrices have entered like villains.
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26 February 2019