Tradition is a custom that a community believes in. Traditions are generally passed down through generations such as a bride wears white on her wedding as per Christianity or Muslims make Kheer on Eid or all around the world it is considered polite to offer what you are eating to others.
A tradition I have come across recently is that of writing postcards in Europe. I saw a lot of young people, sitting in groups in cafes and in trains, writing postcards to their loved ones with excitement. I thought it was such a beautiful way to remember people you love and to make them feel special and remembered. I find anything with written words on it beautiful anyway but postcard is like sending a piece of your happiness to someone. The practical purpose of communication using a postcard doesn’t hold in this Whatsapp generation but it is nice to see this tradition intact. It connects us at a deeper level than spoken words can.
In India, there is a tradition to touch the feet of elders as a greeting. But in the race to westernization, this tradition stands endangered. What the action represents is that the young person values the experience of the elder one so much that he can touch their feet to seek their blessings. It makes the younger ones humble as it is a good reminder to respect the experience of the elders. It is also important from the point of view that as a person grows old, he starts losing relevance in the eyes of his family and starts feeling left out. This simple act is a joyful reminder for the elderly that their family and society do not consider them as a burden, rather, they respect their guidance and blessings.
While traditions are beautiful and well thought out, there are some which need an upgrade. There is a tradition or festival in India called “Karvachauth”. On this day, all women are supposed to fast for the long life of their husbands. It is a nice gesture. But to me it is a reminder of how our society perceived women to be a class lower than men. How it was believed that the well-being of the woman and her family depends on the life of the man. It is not very true in today’s world. Women are also breadwinners of their family and, finally, our culture has accepted the importance of homemakers in the well-being of a family. It is time to question this tradition. I do not have a problem with women praying for their husbands’ long lives out of love but how about husbands also doing the same? I am not a pseudo- feminist buzzkill. I believe it is important to question what traditions silently communicate. Practices such as dowry obviously downgrade the worth of a daughter and leads parents into believing daughters are a burden. Whether it is obvious things such as dowry or softer things like Karvachauth, we must watch for what they are conveying as deep down it shapes our beliefs. In the past, women were believed to be dependent and of lower status than men and had to hold men in high respect, revere them, fast for them. Inturn, these practices made the believe stronger and pertuate it among men and women. It is time to break this cycle.
I still hold that traditions are to life what salt is to food. Let’s question them and dig into these metaphors but let’s not forget them!