I am sure many of you have heard of our elders lamenting,”Ithu Kali Kaalam,” or, “Inthe kaalathu pasangalukku kalacharema illeh.” Basically, there is an allegation that current Indian youth are uncultured. I beg to differ. It can’t be denied that in the name of modernity, current Indian youth ape the west but to say that they are entirely uncultured is not true.
Current Indian youth are culturally wired differently
Back in our elders days, there was swearing and cursing culture indulged in by Indian women. My mother told me stories of her maiden days, of how her female elders behaved. My great grandmother would gather dirt in her palms and throw it at her neighbours or persons she doesn’t fancy and sometimes did it at her own family members, cursing that they and their posterity wouldn’t flourish. My mother have seen her grandmother, catching her urine in the backyard and throw it at the neigbour’s house citing that they will not live well.
Current Indian youth don’t do the above. Clueless youngsters may be profane but they don’t forward maledictions like Indians of yesteryear. Such youngsters grow up and mend their ways. There is a general idea among current Indian youth that everyone should live well. And, they also partake in cultural events organized by Indian youth for Indian youth, keeping Indian arts and culture alive. Almost none of our elders were like that during their time of youth.
Current Indian youth are deemed uncultured because they drink booze and do partying and clubbing. The world is changing – humans are social animals. We socialized differently eons ago and we socialize differently now. Our grandchildren would socialize differently than us. Drinking and partying doesn’t mean that the current Indian youth are not in touch with Indian culture. They know edam, porul, yeval. Talk bad about an Indian youth’s parents at him or her and get ready for salvos of high dudgeon. That’s Indian culture – no Indian child would keep quiet if their parents are denounced. Of course there are odd ones out, kids who don’t know the value of parents and badmouth them on Facebook.
During our parents and grandparents’ time, men drank toddy and they go home and whack their wives and fight with their relatives in Dutch courage. The women would bear up with their husbands’ frivolous, violent and senseless antics. The men go unpunished for the crime and the word divorce was a dirty word. Women, bearing all these physical and mental torture are considered Indian cultured.
The women may have retained Indian culture as per patriarchal set of rules. Pul aanalum purushan, kal aanalum kanavan. Othechalum mithichalum, manalaney mangaiyin baaghyam. Sure, they were living but was their quality of life good? Were the women happy? No, they weren’t; they were merely tolerating their husbands’ torture. My father hit my mum when she wanted to go to her mom’s place because he doesn’t like his in-laws and since he doesn’t like them, he forced his wife to cut all relations with them. When my mum wouldn’t listen to him, he resorted to violence to make her pander like how one would whip a cow to get her to obey orders. My brother’s wife frequents and sleeps over at her mother’s place sporadically and my brother never stops her – he gives her the freedom our dad didn’t give our mom. My brother also calls his wife with respect, addressing her, vaangge, pongge. Tell me who’s more cultured here?
Like I said, culture has taken a different dimension. Current Indian youth now relate culture to individual happiness – if the husband of a young woman hits her, it is righteous for her to file for divorce. Of course divorce is sad but to endure beatings and scathing words are worse. But, divorce shouldn’t be hasty; chances to repent should be given and if things still don’t change for the better, then divorce should be an option. Indian women of today are financially independent and they deserve better than their mothers and grandmothers. To bridle young Indian women in the name of hard and fast culture that impinge the quality of life is equivalent to regression.
Also, it was the norm in our grandparents days for married men to keep mistresses known as ‘chinna veedu’ or ‘vappati’ overtly; everyone, including the wives know about it but it hardly evoked an eyebrow at those times. My grandmother, who is now senile would keep asking my aunts and uncles who are looking after her where’s her husband (my grandpa died a long time ago) and they’d tell her he went to work because if we tell the truth, she’d cry. Sometimes, she wouldn’t believe what her children tell her and says that she knows that her husband went to his kuutiyan’s place and would start to weep. That kind of practice which was intertwined in Indian culture is no longer in function now, at least not openly; this happens in a clandestine and minimal fashion nowadays and if it gets into public knowledge, it’s frowned upon. If either better half commits adultery, then separation becomes a foregone conclusion nowadays like in the movie Marupadiyum where Revathi refuses to accept her adulterous husband back. It is otherwise in the movie Chinna Veedu where the wife accepts the husband who had an extra marital affair, singing the song below in double meaning. Certainly, it’s up to the wife or husband to take back their better half who had been sneakily playing around, including those in a steady relationship.
Polygamy was indulged in those days by Indians. Polygamous relationships are not only considered foul at present but also non affordable. If there is any time where oruthanukku oruthi Indian culture cornerstone is followed through, it’s by the current Indian youth albeit in distinct differences. Premarital sex is happening in current Indian youth but sage Vyasa was born out of wedlock to his unmarried fisherwoman mother Satyavati, in some distorted kind of courtship and he was the one who recounted Mahabarata to Lord Ganesha who wrote the Hindu epic. Sage Vyasa is one of the most revered saint in Hinduism and he is one of the Chiranjeevis. I am just citing a hypocritical realism. I am not demeaning religion in any way and I will let you, the reader to come to a conclusion on this.
Indian mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship also is also better now than previously. Some daughters-in-law call their mothers-in-law amma instead of atte, making the relationship have an elevated sense of propinquity and love. Tamil mega serials are very bad for Indian culture and current Indian youth generally loathe them.
Nowadays, cultural and religious celebrations like Ponggal, Tamil New Year, Onam, Ugadhi and whatnot are celebrated with more emphasis, the significance of those celebrations promulgated by the current Indian youth to the younger current Indian youth. Mass media like Astro and social networks play pivotal roles in forwarding the essence of these festivals to both young and old Malaysian Indians. This phenomenon is a very recent one.
In those days, Indian widows were always sidelined in auspicious occasions like weddings and engagements. They were considered as bad omens. But current Indian youth don’t dismiss widows who are their mothers and aunts as ominous agents; they seek blessings from them during propitious events on grounds that their heartfelt blessings are needed for them to live well. This is something that should be welcomed isn’t it? It’s contained in human recognition.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are conducted by the current Indian youth to celebrate their parents. This is indeed contained in commercialism and consumerism economy and many have the notion that celebrating such events are hypocritical because it is only for one day. Can we celebrate New Year for the whole year or celebrate Deepavali for a whole month? Likewise with such celebrations – they are celebrated as a token of appreciation and to share happiness. The same goes for Valentine’s Day but teens celebrate it in an immature way. But, they will grow up and mature.
Culture shouldn’t stay stagnant – it should evolve with times. While there maybe aberrations, to say generalize that the current Indian youth are uncultured is not right in its entirety. Culture evolution has taken place, not culture deviation nor culture annihilation.