Our Roots Our First Identity!!!!

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Summer, this year, is mercilessly throwing the heatwaves at us never than ever before ( Do we say this every year ?). But this year, with Road expansion and Metro construction, we lost a whole bunch of age old trees. As a result we are suffering and complaining about Global warming. Seriously, Mind and Body needs lot of cooling Agents ! One such wonderful event happened in my society. Inspite of scorching heat everyone, who attended, thoroughly enjoyed. It was the celebration of Tamil New year by tamil speaking people in our society!

Someone asked me why so much hungama about this gathering ? What are you trying to prove here ? Is it just a party or do you really have any deeper insights attached to it?? !! My answer definitely is simple – to people who looks at it superficially its just a fun time together. But the real idea behind is trying to teach the next generation about our cultural heritage !!

Well Cultural Heritage? With just “ kuthu/ Bollywood dance” ( newest form of freestyle dancing) and songs from latest Tamil movies ? Does that really prove anything ?? Food for thought ! I will come back to this later.

Calendar can’t just have weekdays and weekends! In the evolutionary journey many cultures have spiced it up with different types of festivals and celebrations apart from individual centric Birthdays , Weddings and Anniversaries etc — and well all these celebrations emerge from deep rooted tradition and culture !

Living in a global village, many of us are unknowingly losing our traditions & value to so called “modernisation”. We have “live for the day who cares about the rest“ attitude! Or the fact is – we are failing to take the intangible assets-inherited from our parents-to our next generation.

Well, today I am not worried about tangible cultural assets which the archeological department would conserve. Yes we definitely have a role to play in that but comparatively a smaller one!

But intangible cultural assets which are passed through generations is in grave danger ! This mainly includes family traditions , language, social events, rituals ,knowledge, cuisine, skills, arts ( music/ dance/ drama )and most importantly the values – its a “ Human Treasure “. As parents, its our ardent duty to take this responsibility of spreading our cultural knowledge to our children!

In India, language is not just a mode for communication , and food is just not something to quench your hunger. And every festival is just not for fun. Festivals have more deeper and stronger meaning, tightly tangled with our cultural heritage!!

Our identity is a powerful feeling that strengthens self-esteem. A person without a clear identity will, unfortunately, not develop a strong self-esteem. We can’t love ourselves if we don’t know who we are and where we came from!!

People think I exaggerate when I say our language and culture is a way to go forward and we are in a serious era of Language loss ! – well for them….here goes…

Research says by the year 2100, only 50 percent of current spoken languages will survive. This is due to Linguicide (language killing). History shows many languages which are extinct or dead, but what is alarming now is the “accelerated rate” at which we are losing them to Globalisation and Neocolonialism!!

The stages identified towards a Language death !

1. Potential Endangerment – language faces huge external pressure, but still its is passed to children

2. Endangerment – only speakers are left , and is not passed to children

3. Seriously Endangered- unlikely to even survive another generation ( extinction stage)

4. Moribund

5. Extinction

Steps are taken to revitalise many endangered languages by promoting education and literacy of minority language ! But all we have to do is take simple measures at home to make our kids speak, read and write our mother tongue ! Linguistics say that the first step in endangerment is taking mother tongue as a second language. Now I feel its not even Third language! And parents are proud to say “ oh our kids follow our mother tongue, they just don’t speak !” – I have no words to explain about their ignorance.

Why hide our identity ? If we feel shy to say what our background is, try to put a fake mask and very bad fake language accent, I have to blame the generation( family/ friends/ society) which raised us and allowed us to lead an independent life in this world.

We are in the phase of “Language shift “- speakers shifting to language associated with social or economic power —- ultimate result being language death !

I will leave it here for you all to ponder our current situation.

I am not saying anything new, but still many of us fail to understand the depth of this pain. Lets not be the part of the generation which didn’t do the job right and make our decendents find their roots through DNA test

Now back to question of how kids dancing for some random song make them know our heritage ?? -For kids its just to show there is fun in our own music and dance! But it is more for us – a strong remainder – our culture and Human treasure is in jeopardy and we have a serious role to play !!

Let us feel proud about our roots and understand that its our duty to conserve , preserve and share this knowledge to our next generation!

And today don’t forget to ask your kid what do he/she know about your tradition? You will have super fun explaining them!

An interesting dinner time topic to talk and bond!

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