Let’s modernise Indian traditions
On June 21, the world acknowledged that yoga does indeed offer a definitive remedy to the side effects of rampant consumerism. It took several centuries for global citizens to realise that the union of body, mind and soul could fight killer stress and allow citizens to remain healthy; and that such a system already exists. Thankfully, the United Nations General Assembly set aside all conspiracy theories while accepting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
In the internet age, the world is a melting pot. Importing cultural traditions to improve life and environment is a prudent option, which is evident from this UN Resolution. It recognises that “yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being” and “wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population”.
Indian culture has another great custom that can significantly reduce the miseries of world citizens. The tradition of Indian greetings is still in practice but within the confines of four walls. ‘Namaskar’, ‘pranaam’, ‘salaam’ or ‘charan-<g data-gr-id="43">sparsh</g>’ (touching the feet of elders) are practiced even now. However, these practices are confined to family functions.
Children shaking hands with parents while seeing them off at airports or railway stations and students extending hands to teachers are common sights. This western tradition is now a global trend. There is nothing wrong in it. After all, shaking hands is the international practice of greeting. It is customary among heads of countries to shake hands after signing treaties. Corporate honchos do the same when they conclude a deal.
However, many people privately abhorred this tradition when severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) became an epidemic in early 2000. Later, fear of swine flu or H1N1 virus popularised hand sanitizers. In fact, certain health conscious people keep hand sanitizers handy and often use it after shaking hands with partners, executives and strangers. They shake hands in public and sanitize them in private. But, none of them can afford to decline any opportunity to shake hands.
‘Namaskar’, ‘namaskaram’, ‘namaste’ or ‘pranaam’ is a customary greeting and mark of respect, made by the joining of both palms together before chest and bowing one’s head. So is ‘saalam’, where respect is showed without touching the other person. What’s wrong in respecting others while maintaining hygiene? When we change technologies to protect the environment, why can’t we modify or charge our folkways and mores to protect health?
If yoga can be considered a tradition for the good health of humanity, why not traditional forms of greeting? Although the events of June 21 will not suddenly reverse India’s cultural imports, it will certainly boost the process of modernising our traditions.
(The author is Vice President, DLF Ltd. Views expressed are personal)