Our culture is not being invaded

Published: May 19, 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.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • sarah shareef
    May 19, 2010 - 3:34AM

    Well written Mina.keep it up!:)Recommend

  • sameer iftikhar
    May 19, 2010 - 2:32PM

    We as a nation are quite indifferent and insecure .. We tend to acquire
    rather then strengthening our own culture.
    But at the same time thre are the likes of ppl like
    Ms Warsi who did a commendable job by supporting the national attire!
    I hope the writer also practices more than just preach.
    Easier said than done I guess!Recommend

  • Faisal Warraich
    May 19, 2010 - 8:29PM

    To celebrate everything within limits is 100% right. We have make habit to deny every new thing, on the basis of a one-liner “its not found in our history”. But I believe our religion and culture has acceptance for all good things.Recommend

  • May 20, 2010 - 5:59PM

    Very well-articulated argument here. You should have your own mood column in the Tribune, talk more about some of these indescribably hypocritical facets of our incessantly obsessive society.Recommend

  • Beenish Nomani
    May 21, 2010 - 8:09PM

    Very well said!!! the problem is not with us celebrating the western or Indian traditions, the problem is with us not promoting our own culture through media. This is one good thing we should learn from the outside world!!Recommend

  • Rehman Azhar
    May 25, 2010 - 2:15AM

    Well you do have a point here. In an age of Globalization, the very argument of cultural invasion might not hold the ground. Cultures do get affected and hence change themselves if we go by the theories of sociology. But they better change for good. I won’t mind celebrating mother’s day if our mums are happy with it, even if its “western tradition”. I’d rather promote it as well. Recommend

  • Saad Xea
    May 26, 2010 - 11:21AM

    “Forget the west, let’s look around” !

    “There is no western culture ‘invading’ us…
    We need to spend less time feeling threatened by the west and India and more time endorsing what we have.”

    Excellent ‘wake-up-call’ by the writer for the ‘undead’.

  • Muhammad Umar Afzal Rathore
    Jun 15, 2010 - 6:07PM

    If entusiastic journalists like yourself spare some time to cover the glittering side of Pakistan rather than reporting few bearded tribesmen I think we would feel proud of our culture and be proud to propagate it but unless channels such as Geo TV which are constantly working day and night to destroy our image in the international community aren’t taken off the air nothing solid can be done!Recommend

  • Maliha
    Jun 17, 2010 - 4:34AM

    Not only are some people super-paronoid about our culture being ‘taken over’ but there’s another group hell-bent on re-inventing Pakistani culture and especially our roots. I read on a Citizens Archive mug the other day that in 1947 female dispatch riders from the National Guard rode Harley Davidson Bikes when delivering messages to the Army. Who knew? If i took my bike out on the streets of Karachi today, they’d say i was ‘corrupting’ the masses and had probably picked it up while i studied abroad. Sheesh…Recommend

  • Abbas
    Jun 21, 2010 - 4:31PM

    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.Recommend

  • Nazneen
    Jun 23, 2010 - 5:32PM

    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.Recommend

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