Noted playwright TS Eliot once eulogised culture as, “Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living.”‘Teej’ was celebrated all over Punjab on August 3. On this occasion, we came across students on campus dressed in traditional Punjabi attire- colourful lehengas, salwars accessorised with antique jewelley, parandas and juttis- and engrossed in a discussion of the various hues of Punjabi culture, so much so that we decided to join them.
“Whenever we are dressed in traditional Punjabi attire, we feel proud and connected to our roots. It adds a certain charm to our personality but sadly, in a fast-moving world, our society, especially the youth, fail to understand the importance of their roots. We are more enthralled by western lifestyles and are least concerned about what our own culture has to offer,” the girls say unanimously while breaking the ice with us.
Within minutes, each taking part in the discussion shared their personal opinions. “Very few youngsters take pride in their own culture. They feel superior mimicking the west. Shockingly, speaking Punjabi is not good enough whereas most goras and goris across the world are highly eager to learn Punjabi and follow conventional Punjabi lifestyle,” expresses Kirandeep Kaur.Agreeing with Kirandeep, Jaswinder Kaur and Jaspreet Kaur add, “Even foreign students who come to India fall in love with our culture. They can often be spotted wearing Punjabi dresses especially suits and kurta pajama. Many learn our languages too and leave no stone unturned to indentify with the credentials of our culture. If they can fall so deeply in love with our heritage, then why can’t we?”
On the other hand, some students also maintained that the environment at home, cinema and music too is responsible for taking us away from our culture. “We should not directly blame the youth for not respecting their culture as parents themselves want their children to forget Punjabi and various traditions. Cinema and music too hardly ever throw light on our customs, traditions and history but always gives a green signal to obscenity. If this goes on, our coming generations will have no idea about the rich culture of Punjab,” says Pooja.
Milanpreet Kaur and Inderpreet Kaur say even centuries old festivals, be it Teej, Lohri or Baisakhi, have lost their innate charm.Folk dances of the state such as Giddha and Bhangra have been replaced by DJs. Even the custom of jaggo at weddings has faded and the list is never ending. They feel proud that they still treasure antiques such as old utensils, phulkaris, handmade fans, hand woven carpets, mats, antique jewellery and a lot more that have been passed on to them from elders.
Saving Punjabi culture
Students feel the government must make constant efforts to encourage the society, especially the youth towards Punjabi culture and heritage. Contests like Mr and Miss Punjab should become an annual feature and special awards for those who make efforts to save the culture should be introduced. Cinema and music can also do a lot if it goes in the right direction. Besides, they highlighted that if denizens in countries like Germany, Italy and France can hold high the enthusiasm and gusto towards their culture and their mother tongues, then what stops us from remaining connected to our roots? Remember, our roots give us true strength in life!