Evolution of humans and their success on this planet was not a chance. It was man’s greatly developed brain that helped him respond to the challenges of survival in uncertain environments.
A planet inhabited with almost 7 billion people, a species that interacts with its surroundings far more intensely than any other ever has, yet each person is different and unique in its own way.
The creator gifted humans with the same amount of qualities and shortcomings. How one perceives things is different from how another perceives, how one deals with the situation is different from how another deals and it all depends on different aspects like one’s cognitive ability, experience, behaviour etc.
Humans have an ability to adapt biologically or culturally to a specific environment.That’s why man is called a social animal. This quality of humans makes him different from other living creatures surviving on the planet.
When our mannerisms, behavior, actions, attitude, beliefs and values amalgamate in a society, a culture of that society or nation is formed.
In other words, customs, laws, dress, architectural style, social standards, religious beliefs, traditions, behaviours, language and relationships are all examples of cultural elements. Precisely, a culture represents the beliefs, practices and artifacts of a group, while society represents the social structures and organization of the people who share those beliefs and practices.
Culture represents a society or a nation as it’s culture that helps us to know the mentality of a society.
Every society in the world has its own culture. Let us talk about India. It’s a diverse country with diverse cultures yet when compared globally it is considered as one country with one culture.
Now when one looks at it locally India is a blend of different cultures with peculiar dissimilarities e.g. we have Marwadis, Punjabis, Gujratis, etc with different sets of cultures. Further, if we consider J&K, it may seem the entire J&K is one region with one culture. However, again Jammu region has a different culture, while Kashmir has a different culture .
Kashmiri culture is roughly same across the valley, notwithstanding, close up view fails this hypothesis too. Further, if we go towards south Kashmir they have a different set of customs and traditions which alters it from north Kashmir. Culture of Srinagar city is different from that of other districts.
We all have our little peculiarities, grounded on those we distinguish a countryman from a city slicker. Interestingly, a south Kashmir chef (waza) cooks on a hearth made of mud called ‘wuri' in Kashmiri. While as Srinagar chef will hurl nasty innuendo for cooking on hearth, also it will injure the insolent pride of the virtuoso chef.
His ability to cook on wooden logs is much ahead of the silly hearth style. (In Srinagar, there is no concept of cooking wazwan (large feast) on the hearth.) Notorious finicky pick up the nuances of such gestures that discards all the skill set of, uncouth chef, often tagged to. No wonder, he cooks all the delicacies with great expertise but as they say , “Too much chilli is thought of as a bit uncouth”, isn't it?
Another, Kashmiri is spoken throughout Kashmir yet we have different dialects. South has got its own accent and north its own .Srinagarites flaunt about their impeccable Kashmiri and often poke fun at south Kashmiri or north Kashmiri accent. Further, we have downtown ( Shahr-i-Khas) people who follow old and traditional customs which they assume is their heritage, while uptown people prefer to abide by old traditions and customs assuming themselves as evolved homo sapiens . North Kashmir or south Kashmir people would prefer simplicity in overall matters while a Srinagar person would prefer much fanfare in his affairs.
Selecting a life partner in India is tedious. In that hunt, huge chunks of money are wasted. Dowry is yet another feature of our age old system, while as in other cultures especially western culture there is no such concept like dowry.
The irony is our social structure adores the dowry system . It turns blind eye to problems ranging from dowry harassment to depression and even deaths. Yet, contrastingly despises divorce as a social evil . Nevertheless, to say western culture is unmindful of dowry system and their marriages may break more often than ours ,but they have less dowry related harassments and torture cases .
They permeate divorce as a basic human right to live peacefully rather perceive it as a stigma like us. There are so many examples of diverse cultures that its difficult to come across the similarities or oneness in our day to day affairs. What is right to us can be wrong to others and what’s wrong to us can be right to others. We look down upon certain customs without realising it that we are already looked down by others for our so-called values, beliefs and ideas. What I mean to say is nothing can be right and nothing can be completely wrong in this world of imperfectness.
What we call rich culture can be poor for others and what we call heritage can be a burden for others. Likewise, judging people and forming opinions based on a few stereotypes is really foolish. Albert Einstein once said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
People are random, so are their problems. A well qualified doctor will never suggest ‘one pill to cure all diseases’. Instead he will examine the patient and give him medicine according to his ailment. Likewise people are different and they differ in their nature as well despite being organisms of the same species.
Culture is just a way of living in a particular place and it can be learnt. Learning implies wisdom, a man is capable of, when he learnt his ultimate lesson of survival. Boosting about our culture is as good as saying: ’Burger is better than Pao Bhaji.’
As Dr. Muhammed Iqbal rightly says, we must not boast about what our forefathers have left and achieved, what we are contributing to society and what our achievements are is what makes a real culture.