Don’t get me wrong, I don’t despise traditions, its the convenient usage of the word that really pisses me off. What exactly does the word tradition mean? Going back to the dictionary, here is what its definition will look like -
an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.
In lay person’s terms, it simply means the way things have been done or situations perceived - from generation to generation.
We make traditions to create a sense of identity, a sense of purpose for the community or simply to come together in events of extreme emotions - happiness, Mourning, etc.. But there are times I really wonder if we make traditions or if the traditions make us.
Talking about the recent Jallikattu ban. We saw all sort of people coming together to protest against the banning of this centuries old ‘tradition’. I believe they felt that by banning the sport, the legacy of their ancestors would be taken away from them. That they will be lesser versions of themselves, if a few people from their state were not able to play that sport(yes, because only a few have the actual cheek to try and ride the bull).
But this logic of lost legacy applies to every tradition that was widely accepted and practiced but eventually was shunned by societies. Here is a tiny a list of traditions that were and some still are, practiced by many people across the world -
- Caste System
- Child marriage
- Widow ostracisation
- Dowry System
- Vaginal mutilation
- In animal sports
- Bull fighting
- Cock fighting (perverts can smile here)
- Dog fighting
- many more..
Each of the above-mentioned traditions had and may still have millions of supporters, who must have seen or still see much merit in them continuing. But most of us now know, how out-of-tune, those people were or still are, with where the human civilization is heading.
My whole point being, that no-one is crying or protesting because hundreds of traditional crafts that are getting lost because the new generation is not interested in learning them No such reaction even for the languages and dialects that we are losing every year. Not one protest to save the environment or to save the thousands of plant and animal species being wiped off the face of the earth. Only because these traditions, practices, and organisms are dying a natural death at the hands of the changed environment and lifestyles. But we as a local community or the entire human civilization are able to survive any sort of identity crisis erupting from the end of these practices and traditions or the extinction(rather murder) of millions of unimportant(from the perspective of region and religion) species.
Will Diwali be less of a happy occasion than it has been because there are no fireworks? Will Holi’s meaning be lessened because the government banned throwing water balloons? Aren’t we all making up new traditions every year, within our own homes, our workplaces, and communities? Are the traditions associated with region and religion the only important ones? We tend to be quite logical and practical with the rest of the traditions that we introduce in our lives.
I would urge you to believe more in yourself and what you stand for, right inside the core. Once you do that everything else will seem ancillary, you will be more than the sum of your - gender, financial status, region, religion and country. Time to free yourself from these boxes that you did not choose to begin with, but have to spend the rest of your life defending or rationalising.