The term culture itself is very inclusive and covers a much boarder area. The concept includes both material and non-material objects. Both the material and non-material ones mark the identity of a definite group. The material culture includes weapons, art, ornaments, buildings, monuments and everything that is tangible and can be touched whereas the latter covers language, rituals, norms, values, morals, practices, beliefs, relations, organizations, etc. Non-material culture covers the phenomena which are perceived through senses. The fascinating notion that culture perceives is the way the people connect themselves belonging to the same cultural group. People affirm their group identity or belongingness to a particular group via common beliefs, rituals, standards of living etc. Apart from the general idea of group solidarity of culture, India boasts of “unity in diversity” which means solidarity in spite of non-uniformities. India consists of people who are categorized in terms of different groups of languages, religion, region, race, ethnicity, etc. The term “unity in diversity” is rooted on the basis of tolerance of variations among groups and the concept of culture provides its foundation.
“Unity in Diversity” of India
Quoting the lines, “Panjaab Sindhu Gujarat Maraatha/ Draavid Utkal Banga /Vindhya Himaachal Yamuna Ganga….” of the country’s national anthem written and composed by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore highlights India’s feature of rich sprawling diversity. The presence of different religions, races, communities, languages, etc have always proved that diversity doesn’t dismantle the spirit of masses but tries to find ways of adjustment for peaceful coexistence. Hence unity has always been the fabric of India’s diversified nature.
India was invaded multiple times in different periods of history and every time it underwent changes. Starting from the invasion of Aryans to the British rulers India was introduced to new forms of culture. The colonizers ruled the country for about 200 years and during that period the land faced many evolutionary changes. Thereafter the constitution of Independent India was formed considering the customs and sentiments of the diverse population of the nation. All the citizens of the nation belonging to different castes, class, creed, gender, etc are treated equal in the eyes of law. The sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic guarantees mark of unity and urges all the citizens to maintain peace and harmony among themselves.
Instances of Religious Harmony and Cultural Integration
India is an abode of different religions and throughout the year there’s nationwide celebration of multiple ceremonies. But the interesting aspect of some of the remarkable religious ceremonies is that all the people irrespective of their religion participate in them. The occasion of Durga Puja in Bengal has been a trendsetter of cultural integration. The crowd of Durga Puja involves people from all the religions living in the region and the pandals are open to all. Anyone can visit a puja pandal and offer his/her prayer to the Goddess. One such pandal was the Beliaghata 33 Pally Durga Puja Pandal which was constructed with the specific symbols of Om, cross, moon, etc. It depicted the coexistence of all the religions of India. The theme of the pandal was “we are together, not alone)”. This was widely circulated on social media and received huge appreciation from many people. This came to be known as the secular themed pandal. Similarly, Christmas is also an inclusive festival involving all religions and widely celebrated all across the world. It is a religious as well as a cultural festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. During Christmas churches all over the world welcome everyone to attend their prayers and a large of enthusiastic people who take part in the celebration are blessed by the priests. In India and everywhere the lanes, households, a few organizations and clubs decorate themselves with the compulsory Santa Claus and the Christmas tree. In some places Santas are also found distributing chocolates to the children and filling their tender hearts with overwhelming happiness. In India its more like a cultural festival where people flock together in churches to attend the prayers, watch the decorations, go to concerts, etc.
In another instance, Nasiruddin Mandal inaugurated a temple of Goddess Kali in West Bengal’s Birbhum district. The temple was demolished for the extension of a road which was a necessity for the locals. The Muslim community of the locality raised funds and helped to rebuild the temple. The president of the temple’s puja committee opined that without their help the temple wouldn’t have been reconstructed and therefore they invited Mandal to inaugurate the temple. This also highlights the example of religious amity among the people. Another temple in Laddhewala of Muzzafarnagar city is being looked after by the Muslim neighbours of the locality over years. They clean it daily, whitewash during Diwali and protects it from all the external damages. There are many more examples like this which can be treated as symbols of peace and prosperity.
The Importance of mutual cooperation
In a vast country like India with the existence of multiple groups of people, diversities are natural. But what is needed for the diverse characteristics to get going is the unity of the nation. India is a democratic country which ensures freedom of choices to all individuals. Everyone has the right to exercise his/her choice related to faith, belief, ritual and everything without harming the liberty of others. But everything has a negative side too despite positive one. So the idea of cultural unity is no exception. There have been conflicts between different groups which contradicts the idea of unity to some extent. Ethnocentrism is one of major factors behind cultural conflicts among different groups. The feeling of contempt towards someone else’s culture can be turned down only when people start concentrating more on improving their flaws. Individuals should be made aware of their ethnocentric mindset and understand that humanity is above everything else. When there are different individuals its quite natural that their cultures would also differ in a diverse subcontinent. Therefore to make the living world productive, cooperation and coordination among individuals are essential. Only then different cultures can live and coexist peacefully conforming to the norms of unity.