क्या है आपकी भारतीयता?
What’s Indianness? A big question that has a diverse range of answers. Probably what’s Indianness is for me, won’t be for you or vice versa. Some say, our architecture is our Indianness, some say our culture is Indianness whereas the other says that our democracy is Indianness. But what Indianness actually is? I think the most basic definition of it should be; anything that makes India- INDIA is Indianness. Whether it be the auto Wala’s available at steps away, or be the bargaining in the market to getting free rides in the bus without getting caught. Indianness is everything and everywhere. “Gandhigiri” is Indianness and “Parampara” is also Indianness. Things are endless. India is a home of weird rituals and crazy cultures. People here are more devoted to their religion than their own lives. An array of colors in the bazaars, a row of flavorsome spices in the markets, and mouth-watering food filled with the spices of life, India is an exotic travel destination.
Respect for elders:
In India elders are considered just below the god and mother is considered as a gateway to heaven. It is mandatory either in Hinduism or Islam to bow in front of them. It is considered offensive to say the first name, you can call them only by certain specific names. Like for your grandma- we call them ‘nani’ or your mother- ‘maa’. Whenever you see them you have to greet with phrases like ‘Namaste’, ‘salaam’ or ‘Sastriyakaal’. Because the Indian social system still works in a hierarchy, it is given that an elderly person commands much more respect than a younger one.
India is indeed a hotspot of several different religions. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism with additional more like Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Bahá’í Faith. And despite being these differences people continue to live in harmony, this is the distinctive feature of India being the most diverse country. Then again each religion has different values, different places of worship and so different festivals. Thus, the country celebrates an array of festivals throughout the year, be it Diwali to Eid or to Guru Parva to Christmas- one can experience a lot. If this isn’t Indianness, what else can be?
With so many different religions come from different customs. As every religion follows their own believes and norms thus they have their own rituals. Like if you are a Brahmin, you are asked to wear a black thread around your waists whereas if you follow Islam, it is mandatory to perform Collins for boys and girls are asked to wear a bourka. Similarly, if you are a Sikh, it is mandatory for a man to never cut his hair and wear a turban. Do you see? We got it all!
Affection in public:
Marriages are both central and ubiquitous. People of every religion every caste every state gets married. Thus, you will be shocked to know that it is completely forbidden to show affection in public. You can’t even hold the hand of your spouse properly while in public. You have to maintain the distance between both the genders. Apart from husband-wife, one can’t touch even strangers, even if you want to call them you have to greet them first and then ask for your query. While a casual hug and touching, people are not out of the ordinary in the west, India has a set of stringent rules when it comes to PDA or any other form of physical contact. Amusing!
India is a diverse nation which holds a lot of superstitions, from lemon and chilly to breaking mirrors, we have a reason for everything. If a black cat crosses your path it is said to be not an auspicious symbol while breaking a mirror will bring you 7 years of bad luck. There are several others as well such as twitching of left eye is inauspicious, removal of evil’s eye from dried chilies, adding one rupee to a gift sum and sweeping after the sunset is forbidden. Only Indian superstitions will tell you that crow shit is actually good for you. Right from the perils of sitting under a Peepal tree at night or even sleeping with your head facing the north directions, superstitions can be found just about anywhere and everywhere.
Apart from these things Indianness can actually be found in everything. If wearing a hijab is Indianness than flaunting our hair is also Indianness. Asking for extra papdi after eating pani-puri is also Indianness. From dining in a 5 star to eating maa ke haath ka khana is also Indianness. Drinking jaljeera from the corner shop and asking “bhaiya todha or milega?” or the college fight “tu bahar mil” or bargaining in the market and arguing “doosri dukaan pe toh sasta tha” is too Indianness. From the goodness of street food to the niche of cracking IIT can’t be ignored as well. What else is Indianness? A knowledge that has survived the millenniums: “what happens when I die; what is rebirth?” is probably the only Indian question surviving since decades. India is indeed an incredible country with the feel no one else can experience.