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Monday, June 20, 2011

Customs or Kashtams ?

Here's  my reactions to what I read .
The Meaning of Culture

Each of the religions of the world has its own culture, with many customs, traditions and refined qualities. The Hindu culture is a culture of love, respect, honoring others and humbling one's own ego so that the inner nature, which is naturally pure and modest, will shine forth. Here we have described some of the important faith and behaviors of Hindu community.
Respect for elders is a keystone of Hindu culture. This genuine acknowledgment of seniority is demonstrated through endearing customs, such as sitting to the left of elders, bringing gifts on special occasions, not sitting while they are standing, not speaking excessively, not yawning or stretching, not putting one's opinions forward strongly, not contradicting or arguing, seeking their advice and blessings, giving them first choice in all matters, even serving their food first.

Younger never uses the proper name of their elders.   The elder, however, may use the name of the younger. Children are trained to refer to all adults as auntie or uncle. Only people of the same age will address each other by first name. A Hindu wife never speaks the name of her husband. When referring to him she uses terms such as "my husband," "him" or,so and so's father etc.....

One touches the feet of holy men and women in recognition of their great humility and inner attainment. A dancer or a musician touches the feet of his or her teacher before and after each lesson. Children prostrate and touch the feet of their mother and father at festivals and at special times, such as birthdays and before departing on a journey.
It is tradition to provide dakshina, a monetary fee or gift to a priest given at the completion of any rite. Dakshina is also given to gurus as a token of respect for their spiritual blessings.

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Purity is  important in Hindu culture. Purity is of three forms -- purity in mind, speech and body, or thought, word and deed.In daily life, a  Hindu strives to protect this innate purity by wise living, following the codes of dharma.  Never using harsh, angered or indecent language, and keeping a clean and healthy physical body. 

Purity is central to food and nutrition, as the nature of one's nourishment deeply affects the entire physical, mental and emotional nature.  The one cooking food for others would never taste of the dish from a spoon and then put the spoon back in the pot. If food is to be tasted while cooking, a small portion is placed in the right hand. Similarly, one would not touch the lips to a water vessel that is also used by others. Nor would one offer something to another from which one has taken a bite or a sip.

Giving and accepting things from one to another, presenting offerings to the Deity, etc., is most properly done with both hands. The reason for this is that with the gift, exchange of energies also occurs which is  vital for friendship, harmony and the total release of the gift to the recipient.

Hugging and embracing is found in Hindu culture; but it is restricted to close relatives, Guru/disciples and associates that too in a private place. In Mahabharatha and Ramayana we find this very often. Hugging and Embracing improves pranic energy and this practice is not allowed with strangers.

Pointing with the forefinger of the right hand or shaking the forefinger in emphasis while talking is never done. This is because the right hand possesses a powerful, aggressive pranic force, and an energy that moves the forces of the world. Pointing the index finger channels that force into a single stream. The harshness of this energy would be severely felt in the nerve system of the recipient. More properly, rather than pointing or shaking the index finger to give direction or emphasize a verbal statement, the entire hand is used as a pointer, with the palm up and the thumb held alongside the forefinger.
 The traditional way that Hindu men greet one another is with the anjali mudra, then, with palms still held together, extending their hands to one another, in a two-handed handshake, in a deliberate transfer of prana. The hands of one man, usually the less senior, are gently clasped between the other's.  Each looks smilingly into the other's face while bowing slightly in humility.  This handshake is not firm, but relaxed and gentle.
Throwing any object on another person is considered extremely improper, even if the persons know each other very well. Cultured Hindus consider this crude and even mildly violent, even if done in efficiency or jest.

It is improper to sit with one's legs outstretched toward a temple, shrine or altar, or even toward another person. This is a grave insult. Crossing one leg over the knee when sitting in a chair should be avoided, though crossing at the ankles is permitted. One must always try to follow the example of traditional elders. Worshiping, meditating or sitting in the kneeling pose is not acceptable among Hindus.Conversations are not held inside or through doorways. This is considered inauspicious. Similarly, to exchange or give or lend an object, one-steps inside the room first, or the recipient steps out of the room so that both parties are in the same room.

Interaction in public between men and women is much more restrained in Hindu culture than in Western culture. In Hindu culture, for the most part, men socialize with men, and women with women. Married Hindu couples do not hug, hold hands or kiss in public. Even embracing at airports and train stations is considered not wise. Men, however, frequently walk hand in hand.

In traditional Hindu culture, women are held in the highest regard -- far more respected, in truth. The qualities traditionally most admired in a Hindu woman are modesty of manner, shyness and self-effacement. 

At meals women follow the custom of serving the men first before enjoying their own meal. It is customary for a woman to always be accompanied when she leaves the home. Living alone, too, is unusual. Generally it is improper for women to speak with strangers on the street and especially to strike up a casual conversation. Similarly, drinking alcohol or smoking in public, no matter how innocent, are interpreted as a sign of moral laxity and are not acceptable.

Children generally leave the room, with a smile, when guests enter. The mother remains close by to serve as needs arise. The father, if present, will speak with the guest. If he is not present, the mother and a mature son will fulfill this role; and if no son is present, the mother may act as hostess, but only with the accompaniment of someone close to the family.

But the current scenario is  atleast not sitting on the lap of elders, bringing gifts of the giver's convenience if only,not allow the seniors to open their mouth at all, [ not ready to consult ,take their advice ] definitely no chance of choice! 
Touching one's feet is done in a mockery to get things done or to beg one's pardon, and for sure no one would like to touch the feet of Swamijis, because there is no discrepancy in who is genuine and who is fake! 'haan' some do it at the time of getting blessings from elders during weddings, birthdays,before going to the exams, and interviews.

The younger gen keeps nick names for elders and unless you are a stranger like the vendors or shop keepers, no addressing of brother, sister.No question of calling husband's a blah,blah, it's completely the Name and in fact there is no hesitation in addressing the husband in front of relatives and even no shy feeling by saying, 'kanna', 'darling', 'bittu' etc.  

This is true with the gen 'y' and I find they are more generous in giving Dakshina as well in charity, not only that they have the financial status , but also the mind to give and help.

Present day, there is no difference between men and women either in dressing up or in their daily life, they socialize, they mingle with women, attend parties, travel together , irrespective of their marital status, and whatever has been prohibited they are all implemented in daily life !!!!! There is no disparity in gender nor any gender discrimination both are treated equal as per one's convenience. 

Coming to the serving of food, the arrival of dining table has helped women in multiple, it's a multipurpose table which leaves it to individual's choice, there is no time stand and serve. Sharing of house hold chores, the invasion of electronic goods, the ready to eat packages have made the life to 50-50  . Similarly, no one can impose on one's whims and fancies of smoking, drinking in public or within four walls!

Children are hardly interested in elders or visitors entry into the house, they would be happy if the visitor does not intrude in their privacy. That's the time they can be away from the purveying eyes of their mothers!

With the invasion of electronic goods ladies opt for the comfortable life thus, make their life easy on the other hand go for yoga, gym classes with the strict diet regimen,but those days ladies ate well and slogged a lot with hand made machines doing laborious, tedious jobs preventing illnesses like knee problems, lack of sleep,gastric problems, obesity etc. 

Every coin has two sides and as the trend changes, we also adapt to the new and walk along with the tide!

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