Monday, January 08, 2007

Namaste London: Is this movie needed?

The other day I was reading about the movie Namaste London. Apparently this is a movie about the difficulties faced by first generation Indians in instilling "Indian values" in their children, i.e. their second or third generation.

Now, at the first look why do Indians have to be obsessed about their culture and its superiority? I belong to the community of Gaud Saraswat Brahmins (GSB). Generations and generations ago, this community which is said to have dwelled on the banks of the mythical river Saraswati had to migrate because the river started to dry up. In the process the community ended up migrating to the west coast of India. Now, the majority of GSBs reside along the coastal areas of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. Now I feel there will be a very very few people who know about the lifestyle of the GSBs when they resided along the Saraswati river. These might be the only ones who know about the cuisines prepared during that time, about the language those GSBs spoke. Over time, majority of the GSBs have landed up speaking Konkani and its variants. A few of them are pure Marathi speaking GSBs. Infact, I am one such person, whos past two generations cannot speak Konkani, but we do understand key phrases. I am not sure what will it be for the coming generations.

The point I am trying to make is that the GSB community had to adopt to the lifestyle of the coastal areas of western India. They could not have survived and later on prospered if they stuck to themselves and their original lifestyle.

Now, if preserving of Indian values means asking the children to follow the Hindu/Jain/Sikh religion, then these should be done in the language that the children are used to. Look at Christianity. While the Bible has been originally written in Hebrew, all over the world, people read the Bible in which they are comfortable. In India, I have seen Bible discourses being held in Marathi, Konkani and Hindi. So, why can't the Gita, the Koran, and the Guru Granth Sahib like texts be made available in English, French, etc.? Why burden the children with learning another language, when there is little scope for formal training in that particular language?

All said and done, we would like to preserve the religion and its teachings. However, religion was never meant to be bound to a particular language. It was meant to be in a language that even the common man understands. We humans are failing to adopt to the changes. It is time, we get our acts right. You cannot live in Britain and crib about the loss of "Indian culture" and "values" in your children. They were born in Britain and for them to lead a smooth life, they have to adopt to the culture of Britain. Now, its upto the parents and the society in the overall sense to help religion adopt to the changing lifestyle.
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