The Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), away from their homeland, recreate a small India wherever they are. They are far better knit, have a greater bond and are alive to the Indian culture and its value, feels Asmani. She points out that resident Indians have far less respect for festivals and they often take it as just another holiday. Perhaps we value a thing when we are away from it. Here’s an interesting analogy, in the aftermath of major celebrations, exclusively for Different Truths.
During my latest visit to the USA, I realised that Indians who are living abroad are more Indian at heart than those residing in this country. This feeling has deepened every time I see NRIs celebrating their culture in a distant land.
I have a sister who stays at East Africa and when I discuss with her about festivities, she has bigger plans than me. Lately, resident Indians have developed a laid back approach and they perhaps feel that all festivals are more of a break from the routine work life. The lifestyle and the fast pace has gone out of the hands of people staying in India. With the western culture influencing the new generations, the warmth of our culture is slipping away.
The Indian calendar has festivals spread all over the year and so are the holidays. But the major chunk of holidays start after August generally depending on the auspicious month of Shravan (as per Hindu calendar), with occasions like Rakshabandhan, Dussherra, and Diwali.
India being a democratic country, with diverse cultures, festivals continue after Diwali. We have Christmas and then New Year, too. Add to this Eid and Ramadan that often shifts. We also have Parsi community celebrating their festivals, among many other communities.
Do resident Indians feel that there are too many festivals to celebrate, so we pick the ones that we like more? And do they zero down on any festivals that they wish to celebrate and over a period of time, they start ignoring the process of celebrations?
I remember in my childhood, the excitement of Diwali use to hover two months before Diwali. The planning of buying gifts for relatives, friends and family, working on weekends to clean the house. And the purpose of cleaning house was not the annual cleaning, but people use to visit others homes. We had a timetable in place, on which date we will go to which place so that we do not miss them. There used to be a community get together during one day in the five days of Diwali, wherein all the residents of the community use to come together for fun, frolic and food. Performances of different talents and the upcoming talents were showcases and awarded.
In recent times, festivals are more like holidays in India. There still remains the hope with fewer families, who keep the light of culture alive and pass it on to the next generations. But, as I mentioned they are fewer with each passing day. Indians, who have left the country and have moved abroad have their Indian community. It may be smaller in size but they are close bonded. They meet on the small occasions and make the day special. It satisfies them that they have kept the culture alive in distant lands.
Whereas in India, the Indians have started taking their own culture for granted and have started ignoring the significance of the rituals. NRIs study Indian culture deeply and often associate it with science.
Unfortunately, most Indians fail to respect their culture, which is a gift from the ancestors. What every resident Indians need to know is that we are rich in our ways, our lifestyle is not inferior. But, we have not overcome the slave mentality, and we still follow rather than lead. The Indians have the immense power to lead, which is proven by Indians who have moved out of India and made their marks in lives. We as Indians need to embrace our culture and need to respect it and take it to a higher stand. We need to understand following culture does not mean being orthodox or backward. Our culture was structured in a fashion wherein the center has been the almighty force, but it does not mean it is only for any particular religion. There is an element of universality.
©Asmani Jamdar Surve
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