Tradition and modernity

  • Geetanjali Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 27, 2014 09:51 IST

As a college student, I often want to know why tradition is always at loggerheads with modernity. Why can't tradition and modernity simply complement each other? We grow up with tradition and embrace modernity around the same time. So why can't we accept and balance living with both?

Tradition is described as a belief or a principle that society follows for long. Certain traditions are followed by people for generations as they have proved to be useful for all in some way or the other.

The traditional way of doing things is the result of the wisdom of man. Anything that has proved to be beneficial through the decades deserves to be conserved well before it is replaced by what many call modernity.

On the surface, tradition and modernity seem poles apart because of their different values. Advancement in science and technology of the modern world seems to have come as a challenge to deep-rooted tradition. However, moving with the time and adapting to the changes around us is true modernity. Being modern does not mean only using advanced gadgets. It means being modern in thinking and outlook. It means being open to change and reinventing oneself.

Youngsters should be modern in both thought and action. Modernity does not necessarily mean forgetting the traditional way of life. It doesn't have much to do with the way we dress. These days, a majority of the country's youngsters are working in multinational companies (MNCs). Their routine forces them to come home late at night and leave early in the morning, giving them little time to keep up with traditional customs.

Almost everyone nowadays is career-oriented. So to expect your daughter-in-law to give up her career to sit at home and make her recite prayers twice a day is unfair. Though we believe in the supreme power governing us, today's youth have to keep up with responsibilities and distractions that doesn't leave them with much time to pray in the traditional way. For us, making plans for the weekend outing or figuring out how to keep our flat clean is a bigger concern.

Times have changed and so have our priorities. Diwali was here a couple of days ago. It's our biggest festival and we youngsters celebrated it with vigour and enthusiasm. In doing so, so what if we gave the traditional diya (earthen lamp) a miss for the snazzy lights? "Who has the time to make cotton wicks? And just think about the large amount of oil that would have to be used!" my friend said, preferring to order Chinese lights online to decorate her house.

But our celebrations are fun when we keep up with tradition, to a practical extent, and live with the true essence of the festival, which is caring and sharing. There is no need to forget our roots or to shun all things modern. We can enjoy the best of both worlds if we realise that tradition can coexist with modernity.

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