Human beings learn their cultural traditions and values from the inception of their lives. They acquire the cultural traditions and values through myths, legends, and fairy tales. It’s great to know about one’s own culture, but people should also attempt to inform themselves about other cultures for the sake of knowledge or to better understand each other. India is a beautiful country that shares different beliefs from other countries, which are what makes it unique. It has its own values, traditions and these are evident in the epic poems, fairy tales and famous people.
The epic poems contain history and the beliefs that were passed down orally from generation to generation or a written down. The Mahabharata is one of the two most epic poems that embodies the essence of the Indian cultural heritage. The epic poem is an absorbing tale of a feud between two branches of a single Indian ruling family that culminates in a vast, cataclysmic battle. The two branches include the five Pandavas, the sons of the deceased Kind Pandu and the 100 Dhartarashtras, the sons of blind King Dhartarashtra. In a game of dice, the Dhartarashtras win and according the bet, the Pandavas live in wilderness for twelve years. After the Pandavas, fulfill their part of the bargain, the Dhartarashtras resist to restore half of the Kingdom to Pandavas. This dispute engenders the eighteen day battle between the two rival parties. In the end, Pandavas, with the help of God Vishnu in the form of Krishna, come out to be the victorious, but the victory was not easy because of the loss of beloved ones including Pandavas’ five sons by their only wife, Draupadi. The idea that The Mahabharata portrays is that good vs. evil, right vs. wrong always leads to the ascendancy of good over evil and right over wrong. Ramayana is the other great Indian epic that takes place in India around 1000 B.C.E. Rama, the main character, is born to a King of Aydohya, Dasaratha and being the oldest of the four sons, he is to become the ruler of Aydohya, but his stepmother wants her own son to be crowned as the next king. Remembering the the king once promised her any two wishes she desires, she demands to send Rama in exile for fourteen years and crown her son Bharata. Despite the king’s relenting conscious, he asks his son to leave the kingdom. Rama who lives by the rules of dharma, accepts the order blithely. Rama accompanied with his wife, Sita, and his brother, Lakshma, leaves the palace immediately. Upon finding out what had happened, Bharata goes after Rama and begs him to come back, but Rama refuses to disobey his father’s order. During his journey in the forest, Rama faces many obstacles. He loses Sita when she is abducted by Ravana, the king of demons. With the help of a monkey named Hanuman, Rama successfully conquers Ravan and rescues Sita. The fourteen years expire and they return back to the palace where they receive warm welcome and Rama takes the places as a ruler. During this time, Sita proves to Rama her purity, but despite that Rama remains dubious of her fidelity, which leads to Sita’s tragic end and departure from the earth. Besides that Ramayana is a story of love and jealously, separation and return, the moral reflects the idea of of “dharma” which is a duty that each person should fulfill and it also emphasizes ascendancy of good over evil.
Famous people contributed and helped develop the Indian history. Mahatma Ghandi, born on Oct. 2, 1869, was known as the Father of the Nation. Throughout his life, Gandhi ji’s main mission was to fight against injustice. He devoted his entire life to diminish the oppression of the Indians by the whites. In order to accomplish his goal, he launched three significant movements serving one purpose– freedom from the British rule. The first one was the Non-Cooperation Movement, the objective of which was to acquire independence by boycotting foreign goods, British courts and schools and go back to the Indian attire and values. The second was the Civil Disobedience Movement launched on April 6, 1930. It began the Dandi March. In order to oppose the British Salt Law, Gandhi ji, along with his followers, marched to Dandi to make their own salt. The third one was the Quit India Movement of 1942 resulting in the “Quit India” resolution urging the British to leave India. After all these year of struggling, India finally achieved its independence on August 15, 1947. All the protests that Ghandi ji initiated have one thing in common, which is the usage of peaceful and non-violent methods. It tells people that killing and committing atrocities is not the only way to resolve problems. Another person, Guru Nanak influenced and created a new religion called Sikhism. Since Guru Nanak’s goal was to unify the Hindus and Muslims, he combined the both religions and created Sikhism. He taught people many lessons through his actions. He preferred to eat with the poor than the rich because when he squeezed poor man’s bread, it oozed milk while rich man’s bread oozed blood. Through this action, he taught that people should make honest living. Once at Mecca, he slept with his feet pointing to the holy book. An angry man outraged by this disgracefulness, shifted his feet and in whichever direction his feet were shifted, the Holy book also shifted. In this manner, he taught that God is ubiquitous. Guru Nanak believed that honest life would lead to salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. A lesson one should learn is that it’s better to be poor and live honest life than be rich who is living off of people’s blood.
Fairy tales play a great role in helping a child to develop the sense of it’s cultural traditions and moral values. The story “Pigeon and the Crow” is about a greedy crow. The crow sees that Pigeon lives in a household where there are all sorts of different food. In order to obtain delicious, savory food, he tells the pigeon that he wants to live with the pigeon to learn his sophisticated ways of eating. The pigeon agrees and they both head off in the wild to eat. Obviously, the crow pretends to observe pigeon’s ways and eats mostly worms. The next day, the cook is preparing fish for the household members and the crow determined to get some of the fish refuses to go along with the pigeon to eat in the wild. Upon his response, the pigeon leaves without the crow. The crow sits in the kitchen waiting for a chance for the cook to leave and when he does, the crow greedily eats the fish. The cook comes back and catches the crow red handed. In anger, he plucks crow’s feathers and applies a mixture of ginger and butter-milk. The moral that could be extracted out of this story is that one should not be greedy to take other people’s property because that only leads to chaos.
The epic poems, famous people and the fairly tales play a great role in developing one’s cultural understanding of the moral values and traditions. These elements help make a country unique and help bring the essence of the heritage. It is very important to read to the kids, so they can possess some knowledge about their own culture. It is great to know about one’s culture, but it’s more interesting to learn about other people’s culture also.