West Meets East


Playing Hindi hard rock is an imitation of West; wearing mini skirts and jeans are the effects of culturally plagued westernization; live-in relations are the ill-effects of the West – that is a common notion nurtured by a lot of traditional Indians. But this does not mean tables cannot get turned, or does it?

Recently, Shailesh Tripathy, a priest from Varanasi remarried super model Heidi Klum to Grammy awardee Seal on the occasion of their third marriage anniversary in Mexico. The couple was determined on getting married according to Hindu rites. The reception was held according to “Banarasi” culture. The entire mandap was decorated in Banarasi fabric and even the couple wore Banarasi clothes. Heidi was in lehenga- chunri while Seal wore a Sherwani in Banarasi silk. It was the Indian tradition which touched the heart of the invitees as well as the bride’s parents. The parents indulged in all the customs gracefully and even washed the feet of the groom. The couple also concentrated on each and every ritual and loved the concept of “saat janmo ka bandhan”. An Indian chef was imported for the function and pure North Indian vegetarian food was served.

Now the question arises, Is it just the East who is accepting Western customs? Or does the West have a greater capability to dominate the East?

Well, these mind boggling questions will be perennial and this fight over establishing one’s power quotient will be never ending. But, it is not about who is accepting what. It is more about how it is being accepted.

Recollecting history, East has always been plundered and looted by foreigners. In that process, some traits of their culture have gotten instilled in the traditional Eastern culture. Hence, we have some traits of every foreign culture. Moreover, philosophers always felt that it is not just we who imitate the West but even West takes up some aspects of our culture. However, they imbibe only the good qualities. In this context, Swami Vivekananda had stated that to grow as a culturally and economically affluent country – one should not discriminate and should adopt the good qualities of other cultures. He felt that West is the mine of knowledge of sciences or physical nature and we should appreciate that and adopt their culture. On the other hand, he was also of the opinion that West should inculcate within them the beautiful assimilation of religious and spiritual knowledge present in our culture. It is through friendship and mutual co-ordination that this cultural gap can be bridged.

This cultural exchange is a natural process. But every culture has got its negative and positive points. However, the common idea is that we Indians only accept the bad qualities. But it cannot be denied that we also adopt their scientific advancement and strategies for development. Similarly, they respect our religion and philosophical knowledge.

Hence, the best way to enrich our culture is befriending with other cultures and accepting the good qualities.

Sridatta Gupta
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/194106592/