Sunday 19th May 2024,
Sandeep Mann

Cultural Belongingness Sans Ritualistic Motions

It used to be all around, in the air, in the surroundings, in the eyes. Now it is primarily in the mind, alone. I have doubts at times if it is there in the mind even.

The pitch is about the excitement of some festivity or some socio-cultural event. Decades ago the excitement was palpably felt in the heart and so visible in the physical world. It was a treat to oneself and to the community, making an occasion of the Dussehra or the Id or the Holi or the Gopala Aala Rey day. It still is there, but for a very different demographic segment.

The so called higher education availed citizen is increasingly cut-off, on own volition, from the hullabaloo of these festivities. The roots are any of these:

1) intellectual snobbery

2) a differently evolved concept of what culture is

3) lethargy

4) time crunch

Purposively, let us not dissect these; the knowing person on mere mention gets the hint, and the unconcerned doesn’t budge even after tons of rationalization. Having said this, ‘the differently evolved concept’ needs detailed analysis. The proponents of ‘what is the fuss about’ believe that religion and culture are ‘personal domain’ issues. And they sincerely believe they are very much culturally inclined, just as they feel they are very Indian in patriotism.

It is just that they do not like to flaunt.

It is relevant to quote Vivekanand’s thoughts that idol worship gives the common man a medium to fixate and thus pass into a higher level of concentration and closeness to God. Of course, he maintains, a concept-driven person may immediately relate to God, without the need for any idol or icon.

However, you would find appeal in the assertion that, a surrealistic visualizing of something, imagining it to be there is a great feeling, but quite different from having a physical experience of the same. Thinking of your beloved or having her in your arms, which one do you prefer. A thought of you savoring a rasgulla or actually having its real juice squeezed in your mouth, which one seems ummmm…?

What has happened is that, the well educated professional has isolated himself in an ivory tower, dehumanizing the involvement; confining it to cerebral plane. Life endows us with sensory perceptions, and to limit them is an injustice to life. True, being victims of ritualistic motions to the extent that merely valuing the physical and being insensitive to the concept and thought behind them takes you towards orthodoxy.

Let us not impose the reverse orthodoxy, valuing the thought more than the action. Else cultural propagation shall meet its death.

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