I love living in Australia. It’s a beautiful country filled with incredibly kind people and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve been calling Australia home for more than half my life and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt after all these years, it’s that no one looks down on Indian culture, except for Indians themselves.
Maybe this attitude is a by-product of leaving our own countries, fuelled by a desperate need to blend in and to be accepted by the people of a foreign land. Maybe it’s a side effect of the bombardment of social media that, let’s face it, dictates social trends for people all over the world. Or maybe, in light of globalisation, we are too busy learning about everyone else’s culture that we have completely forgotten to pay any attention to our own.
We are too busy telling everyone to call us Jenny instead of Janaki. We are too busy trying to imitate the Australian accent (which when mixed with our own just sounds like a garbled mess). We are too busy trying to adopt the lifestyle of our peers, foraying into worlds our ancestors would never have dreamt of.
Of course, everyone will agree that adapting to new surroundings is not only normal, but necessary. Adapting to change is good, but completely giving up on our cultural identity is not. Learning about new cultures is enriching, but an utter disregard for our own is not.
I mean, we are totally up to date with Beyonce’s music career, but have no clue about the legends of our own classical music. We know how to tame our Indian curves to fit into clothes that are in vogue, but have no clue how to drape a sari on ourselves. We engage in cultural immersion exchanges to various parts of the globe, but have no understanding of the symbolism of our own traditions.
We proudly embrace the culture of our new land, but are apologetic about our own. We call people who are traditional, FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat) and if we ever do attend an Indian function we post pictures of ourselves in Indian clothes signing it off with a meek #foblife. Of course the FOB term is used in good fun, but the underlying point is that we think being traditional is preppy and uncool. If we do embrace traditions once in a while, we feel inclined to point out that this is, not in fact, how we normally look, but a “look” that we’ve gone for temporarily.
When it comes to culture, ignorance is not bliss. We are missing out on the grandeur of our own cultural heritage because of the simple fact that we haven’t put much thought into it. We do not understand the purpose of all the rituals our forefathers performed and misinterpret traditions, which usually results in dismissing them as pointless or regarding them as archaic. And so, we abandon the wealth of cultural knowledge that has been passed down carefully from generation to generation in paltry timeframes of 5, 10, 15 years. It is so easy to lose what our ancestors protected with their heart and soul, so easy to throw away precious heirlooms of wisdom.
If there’s anything we should feel apologetic about, it’s the fact that we are victims of the conformity bug and all that’s left of our culture to be passed on to future generations might well be confusion and ignorance. All cultures are equally beautiful. They all deserve to be preserved. If we all gave up on our own culture to ape everyone else’s, the world would be an incredibly boring place. No matter how long we’ve lived in Australia, no matter how Australian we are at heart, we will always be asked “so are you originally from India or….?”. Our Indian ancestry is not a costume that we can peel of at will. So, let’s spend some time getting to know our own culture whilst also learning about the other amazing cultures of the world.
What do you think? Leave a comment down below!
I am a 20 year old University student living in Australia. As I have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading!