When we were in third grade, if I am not relying too much on my memory, we were assigned to create a project on “There is Unity in Diversity.” I remember buying picture books from the stationery and beautifully arranging the cut-outs across the paper, but until then we all were too young and naïve to understand the sentiment behind this statement or why it was important to stand by it as a citizen of India.
It was after I moved out of my city and travelled to another that I could truly feel why were taught so young to respect the uniqueness this country holds. I could sense a profound shift in people and their culture. As a person who is fairly observant, I happened to notice the little changes that are intricate and often go unnoticed but add to the differences we all carry within ourselves.
There is a lot to every culture, big or small, and there is so much to learn from them. Yet, I believe if we were to keep aside the differences, there is something strangely common among people and the culture they belong to; the need to belong. In this regard, I appreciate how different festivals have been adopted by different communities, even if they aren’t native to their own. Some of the best examples are Diwali, Raksha Bandhan, and Holi. It is the beauty of our country; we always find a reason to come together and celebrate the feeling of belongingness. There is so much color, sparkle, food, dance, and music to all of the occasions we choose to be a part of.
Sometimes the fear of being away from home and my roots has me overwhelmed, but then it is also new. To unravel the layers of a different culture and to accept, that at the base of it all, we all are the same. Every festival that we celebrate has a moral behind it, a story, a learning which teaches us to be a better human. When we look past the differences we have been conditioned to uphold from time to time, it is very easy to notice how short-lived these moments of excitement we wish for are, and why it is important to cherish and appreciate the diverse cultures that exist around us.
No matter what religion we follow, or what part of the country we grew up in, or what festivals we have been taught to celebrate since childhood, it is important to know regardless that we all are the same, people who look forward to a day of joy, vibrant clothes, mouthwatering dishes and desserts and an absolute moment of respite from our everyday hustle.