~ Yashika Sehgal
Indian culture is considered to be one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. Indians have been following their traditions and customs since time immemorial. Western culture is considered to be very advanced, in the sense that they are technologically ahead of most of the developing countries in the world. Indians have their procedures and rules even for the smallest of ceremonies such as the Namkaran ceremony of a newborn baby. In western countries, the lives of people are moving at a very fast pace. They promote an advanced civilisation. Both cultures have a lot of noticeable differences because of the basic mindset of people in different countries and the way they have been brought up.
DIFFERENCES WE MIGHT BE AWARE OF
The families in the west are nuclear in most instances. People do not generally prefer living with their grandparents or extended family members. The families there are very unsettled. As soon as the child reaches the teenage years, he or she is either sent to a hostel or made to live alone and is given pocket money by the parents and later starts earning a livelihood by doing part-time jobs. In India, on the other hand, there has always been a culture of living in a joint family where each member of the family has their roles to fulfil and through coordination and cooperation, they run the whole household. So, the attachment and bond between the members of the family very strong such as the Kauravs and Pandavas in the epic Mahabharat. Parents are very protective about their children and take part in the child’s decisions be it personal or professional. In European countries, there is a culture of children calling their parents by their name. However, in India, a child calling a parent or anybody who is elder to them by their name is considered to be a sign of disrespect.
The people in the west eat a lot of processed and canned food. This is because they are always in a hurry to reach somewhere or do a certain task. So, they prefer, quickly eating the preserved food and getting away with it. They eat food which does not require much time and effort to be cooked as well as being finished such as sandwiches, salads. rolls etc. Their digestive systems have developed the capability to digest preservatives and refined flour. They do not have a concept of eating together with the family at a dining table. Indian cuisine on the contrary is known for its taste, spices and the time and effort it takes to be cooked. The mothers in India do not let the child or any other member of the family leave the house without eating anything in the morning. Indian people have also started including a lot of processed food in their diet which has increased cases of constipation among Indians as their digestive systems cannot digest a large amount of refined flour. They have a history of eating wheat, ragi, bajra and other multi-grains which are now becoming popular in the west also as they have realised their nutritional value. Indians have always been seen having at least one meal of the day with the whole family where they discuss the whereabouts of their day and other important matters. The table manners in the west include having food with a knife and a fork. Even if they are given an Indian dish such as paratha, they will try and eat it with a fork and a knife. Indians have a culture of having even rice with hands because it is believed that eating with hands enhances the flavour of the food.
DIFFERENCES WE RARELY PAY ATTENTION TO
The tradition of blowing candles on a birthday cake can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. The round cakes for them symbolised the moon and the candles on the cake was a tribute to the Greek Goddess Artemis which symbolised reflected moonlight. This tradition slowly began to be followed by European countries such as Germany and has now become a tradition in almost every part of the world. Indian culture has always believed in lighting and not blowing diyas and candles on every special occasion. The biggest example of this fact is in the Ramayana when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya from 14 years of exile. The occasion was celebrated with happiness and zeal by illuminating diyas and candles to welcome him. This light signifies hope and positivity.
Rivers for European countries are sources of water which provide them with power and transport. They are also considered to be a scenic beauty as they are aesthetically pleasing and serve as great tourist spots. Rivers in India are considered sacred and also have religious significance. Ganga and Yamuna are considered to be the most sacred and are worshipped as Goddesses. In India, every river has a story to tell. People visit river Ganga in Haridwar to take a dip in the river. This is believed to wish for their sins.
Western countries have always been considered to have more equality between men and women. India has always been infamous for customs like Sati and the fact that Lord William Bentick who was a Britisher, abolished
it in 1829. Not many people know the actual history behind this custom. Sati was the wife of Lord Shiva. Her father disapproved of Shiva as her husband. To protest against the hatred of her father, she burned herself praying to be reborn as Shiva’s wife in her next birth. Mythology also believes that Parvati was the reincarnation of Sati. Inspired by Sati, many women began voluntarily doing this practice. Later it became a compulsory practise which was to be followed by all women. Sati was considered as the ultimate devotion of the wife towards her husband. Originally, this practice included the women taking pheras around the fire and then living the rest of her life in a temple. However, it is clearly seen that most of the people have misinterpreted this custom into burning the women in the fire along with her husband.
People living in the west rely on medicines even for the smallest ailments such as stomach ache, headache, back pain etc. They prefer having capsules and tablets for all illnesses because these medicines are believed to show results instantly. Indians have always believed in natural, non-medicinal ways of healing such as Ayurveda(which originated from India), using homemade remedies such as using turmeric as a healer for cuts on the skin. Surgery came to India in 300-500 CE according to Sushruta Samhita. Sushrut is considered to be the “father of surgery” in India. Other forms of medicine such as Unani, Homeopathy which are now being recognised worldwide are the creations of India
Using face masks, sheet masks for rejuvenation of the skin are a part of the western culture which the Indians have now started using. In India, Ubtans, which are a mixture of readily available ingredients at home such as turmeric, lemon, and honey is used for skincare and are considered to be with no side effects because they are made up of natural ingredients.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, since there was a lockdown imposed in most of the countries across the globe, people were sitting idle at home with nothing to do. The idea of playing board games such as carrom, ludo, snakes and ladders became popular. Snakes and ladders originated in India during the time when India was a colony of the Britishers. At that time, it was called Mokshapat. It was a game based on morality. Later it made its way to England and America.
Both the cultures have their own significance but as we say, the grass on the other side is always considered to be greener. We do not realise the importance of our own culture and always consider what other people or countries for that matter, are following better. We must realise the value of our own cultures and respect the cultures of other countries as well and do not try and imitate them without actually knowing their importance.