The Cambridge dictionary defines Culture as ‘the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people 'at a particular time.'
Simple? Isn’t it? Then why do we have so many cultural differences in a group of people belonging to the same country, the same state or even the same family? I think the key words here are ‘at a particular time’. While it is often assumed that culture is static, it, in fact, is not!
Difficult to understand
Learned and shared
Dynamic and thus complex
Culture is changing every day, in subtle and tangible ways. But because humans express their cultural beliefs in a wide variety of ways, it is hard to pinpoint and measure how culture changes.
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court repealed the colonial-era Section 377. There was music on both sides, people celebrating and people condemning. This is primarily because changes in the law don’t have a direct correlation with changes of the heart/mind.
Even then, I firmly believe that changes in the law are a solid step in initiating a change in the cultural mindset. Sometimes, cultural changes are for the good. (For example, the abolition of Sati and Widow remarriage Act). And sometimes, they are not. (To illustrate, increased dependence on social media and drug abuse) But one thing is for sure, change is the law of nature and even culture is prone to it.
So the next time you hear, “This is not our culture”. Stop and ponder. This WAS not our culture, but now it could be.
Culture is us.
We make it.
And we shape it as we love it to be.
So live, and let live.