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Friday, March 5, 2010

K-ulture Curry by Khurshid Alam

What is K-ulture Curry?

Introduction: K-ulture Curry is a concept which refers to a mix of cultures that a people follow. The writer Khurshid Alam argues that what we actually follow is a culture curry rather than a pure culture. When we refer to as our culture is the culture many of which symbolates are borrowed from other cultures, and similarly many of ours may have been adopted by others. Hence there is no thing as such our culture and their culture. It is simply a matter of variance because of different but temporary reasons.

K-ulture Curry
"no culture is or can be a forte of a people only"
No culture is or can be a forte of a people only neither there is a culture that is tabooed to be practiced by any people in the world. Culture is merely a practice of a certain set of the “symbolates” as the American anthropologist Leslie A. White highlights in a series of essays titled Science of Culture1. People practicing certain symbolates, which are a chain of symbolic actions, may be defined as the people belonging to that symbolate, or culture. A cultural symbolate is influenced by various symbols and factors such as religion and beliefs, philosophy, literature, arts, music, institutions, manners, lifestyle, food pattern, morals, customs, norms, civic systems and others (Williams, Raymond. Culture2).

"culture is always changing and evolving"
But culture is always changing and evolving, as according to Leslie. There is hardly a culture that is pure in the real sense of the term, what we practice is a culture curry instead. What we practice is a mix of various cultures, in many cases even foreign. What we mean by our culture is actually a pile of cultural symbolates that we practice at the time of discussion and that we do not practice certain symbolates at that point of time is obviously for the others, that is other culture.

Moreover, the sets of the cultural symbolates followed by a people for over a period of time (down the generations) and influenced by many other factors become unique to them and then may be said the culture of that people, which makes it the ‘popular culture’ (Goodall, J. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior3). This uniqueness distinguishes a people from other people, but the uniqueness of the popular culture is generally too tiny which expands by time and with exposure to the people of other cultures and may tend to become a ‘high culture’. A high culture is a culture which practices maximum number of cultural symbolates and is open to adopt the symbolates of other culture fast.

"culture curry pot is always boiling"
Culture curry pot is always boiling! The adoption of cultural symbolates of one people by the other is a universal phenomenon and has been found worldwide since immemorial time but it is more rapid when people of popular cultures live within the geographical boundaries, are amicable with each other, collaborate together, share certain values, ideas and beliefs etc. This is even rapid in the era of post globalization. Melting pot of cultures, with reference to the American culture, is the best example at macro level of this culture type.

"culture curry is too hot and cannot be swallowed easily"
However, culture curry is too hot and cannot be swallowed easily. When different cultures come across, the possibility of cultural clash may arise particularly at the beginning. Especially when the people adopt the symbolates of other cultures consciously. Such cultural clash divides the people into two groups; one who are open to adoption and two, who oppose it. Both types are always there in the society. The best example of this scenario can be cited of some of the right wing Hindu political parties in India such as Shiv Sena (Chief: Udhav Thackeray, Maharashtra, 2009) and Sri Ram Sene (Chief: Pramod Muthalik, Karnatak, 2009) which tried to prevent the celebration of the Valentine’s Day by the Indians saying it a culture of Western people. There are examples of such clashes from around the world when some forces – social, political or religious – intervene to nib the adoption of the symbolates of a different culture.

"the pot of culture curry keeps on boiling and the symbolates permeate slowly"
Yet the pot of culture curry keeps on boiling and the symbolates permeate slowly. Some good examples of this logic can be taken of the Bermuda dress. It is a typical dress type of the people of the Bermuda triangle – an island in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Bermuda shorts are a little longer than half-pants (or English shorts) but shorter than trousers. A unique dress code of the people of Bermuda but is now well common in other parts of the world.

Remarkably, culture curry cannot be started by any person intentionally with a sense that they are adopting a new culture rather it is an act of imitation. The reasons of imitation may be many and uncertain but it permits automatically; first by few people and then by others. Soon the popular culture gains the aspect of the high culture.

1. Leslie A. White, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The Science of Culture: A study of man and civilization. New York, 1969.
2. Williams, Raymond. Culture. 1981/1982.
3. Goodall, J. Boston. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Bellknap Press of the Harvard University Press. 1986.

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