Culture Shook

The edapally punyalan stands valiant at the busy cross roads of Eranakulam(Kochi). This spear bearing, white horse riding, serpent killing, St. George of St. George church at edapally had always been a mystery to me. This deity with the power to control and rid snakes is an easy favorite even among the hindus who fear the snake gods. My maternal family home was built around a dozen edifices of snake gods and hence the allegiance to punyalan had stuck since a long time. Our trips to Kochi till date are always accompanied by a hand folded quick bow and swift donations to this white knight.

As a child, I was perplexed at the tam-bram association to a church and the politics of the faith confounded me to no end. When cousins chose partners outside the familial realm of caste, religion, ethos and what not, they were met with cold response from the elderly. The faith I had awed now seemed hypocritical. The willingness to rebel anything and everything had only become stronger and sadly the purpose was lost somewhere!

The families haven’t stayed far behind. The confluence of ethos, language, religions, casteism, is the norm; the fence is breaking away. Acceptance is now widespread and even in vogue. As we celebrate the unions, sport a thaali with influences from the families of boy and girl; organize weddings with various ceremonies making them double the fun, has the din shut us to what holds next? Has the clamor and victory of love left us in the end nonchalant? Did we revolt to find common ground and lose ourselves mid-way?

So when I posed the question to a friend, she was quick to conclude – “Our unborn children are Indians. They won’t be tied down to caste, religion, language and all the unnecessary barricades”
I wasn’t convinced – “So, it means they will know no language well enough, they will hardly understand any traditions, they will have no real direction to choose their god, they will never care enough for all the work we did to sever the very barriers.. Are we making a better world or breaking it?”
“All of that and much more. …”
“We might as well brace ourselves to accept homosexuality isn’t uncommon” she quipped, tongue in cheek of course!

So when I grew up watching amma wake up early to paint the kolam, slurp many a serving of coconut oil laden avial, guffawed in the theatres watching Malayalam movies, mastered a language that can be spoken only if you are born into it; I had taken pride in all of it and let it all be part of me even without my knowledge, even with all the rebellion that had sprung. So am I wrong in expecting my unborn child to experience it the way I did?

It makes me wonder what our parents had in mind for us and how we turned out? Will we manage to introduce the best of cultures into our upbringing as parents? Will we be forceful, unmindful or renowned in our approach? So, if I were to save something what would it be – my religion, my tradition, my language, my food habits? If I make the choice, how do I make the save? and if I make the save, would it be at the cost of losing the choices of my other half?

The irony of the situation may cease in a long time. Hypocrisy fought with new hypocrisies… Blended fusions and potpourris created and meshed. Love triumphing above all else and leaving behind a trail of foot prints washed away in the sea of reform!


5 thoughts on “Culture Shook

  1. NIRMAL says:

    Nice article!Actually there is so much of "attitude" change from past generation and present ones.I guess the times our parents got married there was a strict view on cross culture weddings. But right now things are changing and now most of parents are quite open to such things. I went to my class mate(who was ur bus mate) wedding recently and it was one such wedding! So things are changing now.I think when we look further down the years perhaps the next generation people will be different in handling views of their children and how they address their concerns!!I dont mean to say ppl will give up their identity but they will be slightly flexible and not very hard on rigid rules!!Culture shock is a nice title to this post!! My colleague at work once said that i travel to blore i feel the culture shock. So its everywhere!!

  2. Divya says:

    Your identity is eventually what you choose? You can bring up the kiddywinks as Mallu/ Hindu/ Indian but what they will turn out to be will eventually be their choice.And the more exposure you get the more that choice is likely to be different from what you as a parent may have wanted – hence the common thread of marry-them-off-early, NRI parents placing restrictions on inter-cultural interactions, or the general tendency to not let the apple wander too far away from the tree.I think restrictions are bogus in the end, and that it is selfish/ counter-intuitive to think that your kids have to turn out like you just because you brought them up.

  3. Divya says:

    @Preethi: Thanks!@Nirmal: Yes, the attitude change is a great improvement and I agree, flexibility is the key word here. But how flexible can we be.. is my question? Will it be at the risk of losing identity?@Div: I cannot wholeheartedly agree that kids are capable of making whatever choices they want which are completely tangential to how the parents influence them. There is a reason somebody is "brought up" after all! If it is only to finally throw it all away while making choices, it doesnt make sense. I do believe that the direction to make choices (which I agree may be quiet different from what you want it to be) is provided to them by parents. Guidance and support are not the same as placing restrictions. Parentage is defeated, if the child is nothing but a third person not in want of your lineage, support or positive influence. No?

    • durgadas says:

      relationship is far away from ownership….the courage or the bent of mind to think independently is also provided by the surroundings which include your parents grand parents teachers etc…..but if one to get absolute freedom right from second one of birth s/he should be left in a floating basket in a free flowing river immediately after birth like in epics….puranas…
      even animals wont dare to do that ….

      u people can think and blog only about the experiences u have undergone….and rest is imaginary based on certain influences , beliefs, convictions acquired during the knowledge gaining process …

      but nothing like experiencing parenting…..i can recall when dd was born in the early hours after a long waitng of nine hours after her amma was taken to hospital at nine in the night…….i came home to take back a few items to hospital…..when i was rushing thru putting clothes , flask in the bag and speeding to hospital refusing to wait for my morning tumbler of hot coffee made by my mother, my father murmured in the ears of my mother…… see this fellow has become responsible………thereon i too stared realising the joy of it……

      you people can now only imagine about it…….

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