Culture can be defined as a way of life of an entire society. It defines who we are. It is reflected in the way we behave, our activities, the way we dress, language, our religion, rituals and foods. It is passed from generation to generation through literature, music and dances and in the modern society in films and movies. Migration and interaction have characterized the lifestyle in the modern society. In schools especially we are subjected to interact with other people who are diverse in terms of background and culture. Therefore, their lifestyle may be different from us. We need to appreciate and respect one another. We can only accomplish this by understanding the uniqueness of culture in a particular individual. (Hofstede, G., 1997).
I have a friend named Alexandra who is an Indian. Personally I was born in India but never thought to take any keen interest in Indian culture. Our friendship was motivated by this fact of having an Indian background and Alexandra being Indian. We shared a lot of stories and we became too close. She narrated a lot to me about India. I developed a strong interest on Indian way of life-culture. I asked a lot about Indian food, religion, music, dances dressing, rituals, language etc., we even started going for Indian movies. One thing I liked about Indian culture was their music and dances. It is mainly performed as a form of leisure activities, in praising and in festivals. One of the major festivals in India is the Chennai music and dance. It is a celebration of classical music and dance in South India otherwise called ‘’Carnatic Music’’. It involves artists from allover India. It has it roots in devotion to gods and has been traditionally practiced since time in memorial. It is comprised of junior and senior artists. We came up with an idea of performing a dance. We preferred a dance as the songs was a bit hard as it involved Indian languages. We informed our friends who became excited and decided to join us. Our second grade teacher, Esther, was very supportive. She allowed us to perform and was thrilled with the idea. As the group leaders we needed a plan for the dance moves. My cousin, Keyzom, advised me on what we needed to do. She was great in Indian dances. We realized that we needed costumes. Fortunately, Alexandra had a lot of outfits that were enough for the whole group. Both the girls and boys were sufficiently dressed. I had my own golden blue costume from cousin Sonam.
And finally, here was the day of the performance. It was beautiful day but I was a little nervous at fast especially because I was the first to line up. The dance was great and as it progressed, all my attention and conscience was drawn into the dance. As the crowd looked at me with admiration, I realized how great it was to be in the front line. I didn’t even realize that the song was over. It was a great moment for me and my friend Alexandra as we reaped the success of our initiative. We were congratulated and given flowers and hugs. It was a real memorable experience. Though it was not one of the best performance, it memories were still fresh not only to us but others in years after.
I didn’t realize that this was only the beginning of my knowledge and love for Indian things. I became very fond of Indian culture. I realized it is diverse and unique in its ways. Though modernity has had a bit of influence in it, the rich values always remain unchanged as they are deeply rooted in their hearts, body, soul and mind. I later traveled to India to visit my relatives and realized that guests are treated like god. It was a real welcoming experience. There are many things I liked about India; respect of one another, helping one another and all these kept reminding me about my friend Alexandra.
Indian culture tells us to multiply and distribute joy and happiness and share sadness and pain. It tells us that by all these we can develop co-operation and better living amongst ourselves and subsequently make this world a better place to live in. Even though India is a country of various religions and caste, this culture as just one thing ‘phrbhidil hai hidustani’ meaning the heart is still in India. (Indianchild.com, 2008).
Alexandra left the school eight years after our performance. She was a really great friend. She initiated my love for Indian culture that has inspired me to date. I have now a great experience that I can share with friends. Let’s learn to appreciate one another. Our diversity in our cultural beliefs and practices should be our strength. We should not discriminate our neighbors because of what they do, instead lets yarn to understand why they do that. Our background and culture is our wealth. We should therefore uplift our culture, maintain it and identify with it all the time.
Indianchild.com, (2008) India culture. Retrieved from http://www.indianchild.com/culture%20_1.htm on Friday, October 10, 2008
Hofstede, G. (1997). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw Hill. Retrieved from http://www.tamu.edu/classes/cosc/choudhury/culture.html on Friday, October 10, 2008