Is our Culture Fading? A Time for Introspection and Rethink

Is our Culture Fading? A Time for Introspection and Rethink

By Samreena Zahoor Lone
Culture is a general term for the social behaviors and norms found in human societies. Culture is a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Some aspects of human behavior, such as language, social practices such as kinship and marriage, expressive forms such as art, music, dance, ritual, and religion, and technologies such as tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing are said to be cultural universals, found in all human societies. In the words of anthropologist E.B. Tylor, it is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” Alternatively, in a contemporary variant, “Culture is defined as a social domain that emphasizes the practices, discourses and material expressions, which, over time, express the continuities and discontinuities of social meaning of a life held in common.” Coming to our state, Jammu and Kashmir once the state was very rich in culture but nowadays our culture is dying a silent death. Everything has changed-be it our language, our music, our way of dressing or our eating habits. If we don’t make efforts to protect our culture, we will soon lose our identity.
The important culture of our state was Kashmiri language (Koshur), which is dying both in Jammu as well as in  the valley ; our school grown kids hardly speak Kashmiri,; it has become the language of aliens for students and elites in the state. Language was in fact most important part of the cultural identity of the Kashmiri people. Culture is always in a flux and ferment. It is a non-stop mental journey with no mile-posts to cool its heels upon. It is, precisely speaking, the cumulative expression of the values enshrined in the heart-beats of the natives of our state. Marcus Garvey is quite right when he puts his immortal words about the culture to quote him, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.
Jammu and Kashmir has a wonderful culture which has played an important role in earning accolades for it from across the world. Be it literature, lifestyle, language, religion, arts, crafts, music and dance, Jammu and Kashmir is an outstanding tourist destination. The colorful dresses of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are very attractive. The majority of the populations wear traditional clothes. During the winters,  as we all know, we  wear an overcoat called Pheran. It is basically worn over a kurta. And under the Pheran, is a warm pot of charcoals called ‘kangri’, which helps in keeping warm. However, this tradition too is now under threat as new generations hardly wear “Pheran” or use “Kangri”. These have become only symbols when cultural events are organized,  rest people hardly care. Another important feature of culture of Jammu and Kashmir has a plenteous tradition of folk music. Rabab is popular folk music of Kashmir. Musical instruments include nagara, dukra and sitar. Hafiz Nagma is grounded on the classical music of Kashmir- the Sofiyiana Kalam. But.  due to the western style of life and Bollywood, this culture too is under serious pressure there are only few names that are now concerned with it.
Elie Wiesel once remarked quite apt that, “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, and no future”. The more social media we have, the more we think we are connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other and losing our great ethos of culture and tradition. We need to introspect and think deeply over the fading of our culture!

—The author hails from Ushkura,  Baramulla and is pursuing Masters in History from IGNOU. She can be reached at: samreenchinki@gmail.com

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