We all have inherited innumerable traditions from our families and societies. They help us in life and living. We need not rediscover the world as our forefathers have experienced most of it and left behind ways of dealing with life in most situations. When we follow a ritual, we may call them tradition. On the other hand, when we invent something new to deal with a new situation, we may call it modernity.
In life both traditions and modernity are equally important. While traditions share lessons of the past, modernity helps us to break free from the past and deal with the future with an open mind. I used to think that most of the traditions are redundant and may not answer the questions of life in the future. I personally did not believe in many traditions and believed they were backward looking.
However, I recently went to my diabotologist to consult for my diabetes. When he enquired about my food habits I explained how I had moved from traditional food to new oils and less calorie food products. He smiled and advised me to revert to traditional food. He explained as to how the human body adapts to the food based on weather and eating habits. He further explained that oils and food items recommended by our grand parents are more healthy than what modern marketeers make us believe.
This was indeed a revelation. He explained the science behind traditions. It appeared to make more sense. After all traditions are also rooted in science and may be we do not believe in them because there was no marketing of traditions. I am not for one recommending that all our traditions are noble. However, it may be valuable to look at traditions with an objective mind. We may challenge only those traditions which may have become irrelevant in modern life.
Another interesting example of traidition versus modernity is the science of “Vaastu”. I used to live in a beautiful green home in Bangalore till I moved to Mumbai. My wife felt that that home was not vaastu compliant after staying there for three years. I resisted from moving out of the house since we had moved in by choice and loved the environs. However, when I was moving to Mumbai for change of my job in 2011 I agreed to sell that home and buy another similar green home.
Meanwhile I tried to study the science of “Vaastu” ( Indian traditional science of architecture). I found it intriguing. It explains the basics for the design of a house. It explains as to why the kitchen should preferably be in the south east of the house. This is because the maximum sunlight enters the house in this direction and hence it will be a natural prevention of pests and insects in the kitchen. The master bedroom should be in the south west because it is the coolest place in the house and so on.
After having studied the basics of Vaastu, I can state that this tradition is worth emulating and following even today. Every recommendation of Vaastu seems to rooted in science and although learnt through traditions is relevant to modern life. No wonder one of the best insititutes of architecture in the country has recently decided to include the study of Vaastu as part of the curriculum.
As in the photo above, people of a southern state use cocunut oil for all their cooking as per tradition and still lead a healthy life without much impact on their cholesterol levels.
Let the traditions of the past help us redefine our life today.
S Ramesh Shankar