Our culture is not being invaded

Mina Sohail May 18, 2010

What’s with the baby showers? My question is, what’s with all the whining about having one? I was telling a friend yesterday I had to go present hunting for a friend’s baby shower. She declared that it’s not our tradition in a very matter of fact manner. Well, I told her neither is Mother’s Day, but she did purchase an outfit for hers. Neither is Valentine’s Day, but she would have felt elated with a box of chocolates at her doorstep. Neither is Holi, nor are bachelor parties. But we celebrate all those, and at times, with a lot more festivity than Eid. There must be a reason why. It’s promotion. The western world does a great job at glamorising everything in movies and on television. Forget the west, let’s look around.

India. Their traditions are catching up with the world. This is because they are the experts at glamorising themselves. They know how to make a rickshaw ride look like a unique life experience. They know how to make ordinary women look beautiful in traditional saris. They get away with making samosas look like a must-have delicacy for those who visit India. Naturally, holi and mehndi, have caught up with the world.

How often do we bring, lets say, shalwar kameez to the world’s notice? I was recently impressed to see Sayeedah Warsi, (newly elected first Muslim woman to serve in British cabinet) wear shalwar kameez to an official meeting at 10 Downing Street. Foreign photographers took her pictures, loved the vibrant attire and sent her snaps around the world. This is just one example. We need a gazillion more.

There is no western culture ‘invading’ us. Cultures and traditions aren’t so fickle that they can be undermined that easily. We need to spend less time feeling threatened by the west and India and more time endorsing what we have. Celebrating Mother’s Day etc will not jeapordise our own traditions. Not promoting them well enough will.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 19th, 2010.


Nazneen | 13 years ago | Reply Culture is not a commodity that can be promoted by glamorizing or by using advertisement tools etc. It is not at all a commodity. You have missed the basic premise that culture is a collective behavior of a society or a group of people that they practice without any physical or moral or any sort of distress. I would suggest you to look at the philosophizing issues such as this one, in philosophizing manner. The argument you have tried to present in your writing is circular basically thus bears no logical conclusion. The basic premises are missing in your writing and the prelude itself seems to be a jumping on conclusion. I would like to write at this issue at length sometime next month.
Abbas | 13 years ago | Reply Spot on! I completely agree with the writer about focussing our energy on improving our own position instead of engaging perpetually in bickering and demonising other cultures. We need to promote our cultural products through effective marketing internationally so as to produce a softer image of the country. In the wake of the current negative exposure of Pakistan in the foreign media it is incumbent upon us to work along those lines.
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