Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cosmopolitan Capital

Over several years, the culture of West Bengal has emerged as the perfect blend of modernity and traditions. The culture of West Bengal is considered to be one of the richest cultures in India. Apart from boasting of its immense contribution in reformation movements, the state also takes the credit for being the pioneer of cosmopolitan culture in the country. India has many cultures & religious believes, why is it that only Bengali tradition has kept its culture alive, yet has transformed its ways to sync with modern times. 

Cosmopolitan - Oxford defines Cosmopolitan as: "Familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures". Streets of New Delhi's mini Kolkata would give you a glimpse of this cultural fusion. While you will find youngsters with ultra modern attire, you will also see them dressing up in their traditional outfits for key occasions. Cotton or silk sarees, kurta (or Paanjabi) with dhoti are still not out. Their designs may have evolved with time but the essence of keeping the tradition alive, prevails over modernization. I feel a lot of other cultures are simply giving up their traditional attire in the name of being modern. Often comfort prevails over our sense of following tradition, but that shouldn't mean you totally let go of your past. Does it? At least Bengali people haven't.

While eating "Chinese & Thai" food is common, you will still find crazy crowd outside fish markets. Dimsums (momo) are fast catching up but Muglai paratha, devil egg, jhal muri are still in demand. Chains like ROC do good business but open fish markets still rule the place.

While late night parties are now common, youngsters still greet elders by touching their feet (yes feet, not knee). Off course not the ones you meet everyday or stay with but you get my point.

While multifloor structures are taking over areas due to rising cost of construction and ownership, you will still find old single story houses with big lawns/ gardens. You will not find hand rickshaw but you can still see workers beating sacks of ice to keep their fish fresh.

While they use modern medicines, almost everyone believes they can survive any catastrophe with a tube of boroline, bottle of zandu balm and gelusil :)

With time they have evolved but kept their tradition & beliefs alive. What makes bengali pople more adaptable and accommodative to changes? Is this linked to "English" influence which East India company brought as they made Calcutta their capital? I don't know, if you do, share your views....