It is natural that wherever you are born and nurture up you will have a love for that place and a special emotional attachment with it And probably it is the reason we always struggle for the prosperity and improvement of the place. We have seen in the last few decades, how our love for cultural assets changed by the extreme religious and ambiguous ideology. It didn’t only happen in Punjab but it also took place in other provinces as well.
In general, I have noticed that most people do not miss the lost culture and tradition. TV channels even don’t highlight these sorts of things. On a large scale, there are few people in our surroundings who show some enthusiasm about Punjab customs and rituals.
Nowadays, most people including the young generations are busy dealing with minor issues. In a society, where we have seen many benefits of social media, we have also seen some flaws, the one most visual is access to unchecked or fake information. I’ve seen many Facebook and YouTube channels, mostly handled by single persons, are sometimes publishing the most sensitive topics without verification of the information. These topics are sometimes related to history and sometimes about social and political activities. These things may not have been seen to be important but in reality, we have started looking at their effect on society.
On one side we have seen the impacts of self-made history which have been taught from the very early days after the creation of Pakistan, and then especially in the Zia-ul-Haq era. In school textbooks, we have read many pieces of history that have been taught about wrong history and are still being taught, as many scholars have mentioned in their books and articles. Among these, the one most famous is a book by K.K Aziz ‘The Murder of History’. He wrote about almost all the textbooks taught in the whole of Pakistan. He pointed out the history replacement in most of the ‘Pakistan Studies’ books.
General Zia ul Haq era, on the other side, spread religious extremism and degraded the culture and traditional practices. Some people at that time practiced religion with fear and some practice with enthusiasm but eventually, everyone had to. In this way, people of Punjab at the mass level forgot to celebrate their traditions and cultural events. Celebrations of local rituals and customs declined rapidly and at one spot it totally vanished and now it slightly seems in Punjab. I’ve hardly seen those sports or activities which were part of local traditions that took place before the 1980s, which were sometimes told by my Grandfather.
Similarly, in this era, another thing that assist culture and traditional values to stand on its feet was the medium of film, which also faced many sanctions. Films and Television are obviously are the most important things to make live the cultural and traditional values of a country. Cinemas remained closed and films stopped running on Cinemas. Consequently, dozens of cinemas were closed because of the crisis and now a few dozen cinemas are available in the whole country, the majority of them are in Punjab.
Here, I’ll give you the example of our neighborhood Punjab, the Sikh community. Their film industry always played a vital role in assisting the cultural and traditional values. I have watched many of their movies and one thing that was included in these movies were language and traditional Punjabi norms, rituals, and cultural values. Many of their movies have been shot in foreign countries including Canada, UK, and some other countries and these features can be even found in those films. I’ve seen many of their local documentaries on how they are living in foreign. They have made communities which are known as ‘Mini Punjab’ there. In Canadian politics, Sikhs are the most active people there. You can search for them and you will found them wearing suits and turbans on their head. At home, they speak Punjabi, and outside they speak English with a brilliant accent. The same thing is in the UK and other countries they are living.
I’ve also seen many of their movies criticizing their evolving atmosphere which is to a large extent bent towards drugs and other misleading activities. The point here is to emphasize the importance of culture, tradition, language, religion, and of course modern education. We always have required to make a balance between these things in order to make society bound together.
Taking an example of the Sikh community we can see that how they have made a balance between these things. They are practicing their religion, they are active in international politics and science technology, they are practicing their cultural and traditional values and speaking their native language, and also speaking English for the sake of grabbing the modern education.
We can’t force ourselves to practice someone else culture and language as recently our government tried to impose Arabic language and introducing the history of Turkey through Turkish Dramas without knowing our own history properly. This is a state of confusion and with this, we cannot become a developed country.
My Grandfather has told me many heart-touching stories of the partition. Many times he told me about his Sikh and Hindu friends who left the country after partition. He told me how they lived together irrespective of degrading each other religions. Probably, I love my homeland so much only because of my grandfather’s love for the land and the stories he told me about diverse Punjab. As because I know the unpleasant history of this land to some extent, I don’t want to see this country pushing back to the era of the dark. I want to see this country racing for knowledge and innovation.