TODAY -

Culture Gives And Takes

Lenboi Haokip *



They say it takes all sorts to make a world. The description may as well fit in with us for it takes a touch of East and West to make the Kut. Quite rightly, Kut is where Thinglhangpa culture and West-inspired entertainment compatibly go lee-lee-lee-ho-ho-ho with the Kuki-Chin-Mizo-Zomi people. So, who says never the twain shall meet?

Speaking of culture, we were once drawn into a debate when we were asked to throw in opinions on "International communication as a tool for equality and exploitation", during my final year in university. Spontaneously, the debate turned into a furious battle of wits for and against media globalisation. If it were not for want of time, the argument would have stretched into a second day with neither winners nor losers.

Terming international media an instrument of cultural homogenisation and westernisation, fellow classmates against media globalisation contended that dominant international media (MTV, Hollywood, CNN, BBC, etc) induce ethnic minorities to adopt foreign culture, implying jeans phenomenon or growing westernised lifestyle among Manipuri youths. Their fear is—unequal flow of media content undermines cultural autonomy or promotes Western values that have no connection with real experience for us.

Giving our side of opinions, we countered fellow opponents by stating that media globalisation provides space for the give-and-take of culture and it, therefore, creates room for promotion of culture between cultures. We also reassured them that even if there is a threat of cultural imperialism, we have the press freedom to check and counterbalance any one-sided views, depiction or otherwise.

Further, we adduced an instance of how we selectively accept parts of other culture which are compatible with ours. Then, we exemplified—we wear jeans but we do have dress norms which act as specific social guidelines for what to wear during social gatherings like Meitei Thabalchongba, marriage party, sorat, or tribal women wearing colourful Ponve (traditional wrap-around) at social meetings or churches.

Stubbornly enough, our arguments furiously continued with endless examples, justifications and rationalisation. After tired hours, we finally called it quits. Reluctantly without convincing conclusions though.

Culture in sociological sense is something shared. And if we may dwell at length on how pure, unique or distinct one's culture is, the findings of social scientists can best illuminate our thinking. B. Malinowski defines culture as "the cumulative creation of man". George Murdock has estimated that about 90% of the contents of every culture have been acquired from other societies.

To put it simply, culture, say jeans culture, is the cumulative effect of man's innovation that attracted mass appeal, became a culture of dress where it was invented and latter erupted into a worldwide phenomenon. Going by Murdock's estimation, we receive culture as part of social heritage and, in turn, reshape it through borrowing from others which then becomes part of the succeeding generations.

In other words, the borrowing of cultural elements from another society has been a social phenomenon of successive generations, which social scientists and anthropologists have considered it the main source of cultural and social change.

Let me cite here Anthropologist Ralph Linton's classic illustration to make it clear to what extent cultural borrowings takes place in every society. He writes : "our solid American citizen awakens in a bed built on a pattern which originated in the New East but which was modified in North Europe before it was transmitted to America...the hypothetical American citizen puts on shoes made from skins tanned by a process invented in Egypt. He takes umbrella invented in Southeast Asia. Steel knife he uses for cutting his bread, is an alloy that was first made in South India.

In his another hand he holds a fork which was a medieval Italian product. The spoon that he uses was originally a Roman invention. The coffee that he sips with pleasure everyday is a product of coffee plant which was in the beginning an Abyssinian monopoly. He smokes cigars or cigarettes. This smoking habit he has borrowed from the American Indians. Similarly, the American uses or is benefited by many more such things, practices and habits which he has borrowed from other peoples and cultures long back".

Linton's illustration gives us explicit insights into the flexibility of culture. That said, we selectively accept elements from other cultures which prove useful and can coexist with our culture without problems. For this reason, white Americans accepted the Red American Indians' tobacco but not their religion.

The British gave us a universal communication through the English language and brought to us modern bureaucracy, institutions, etiquette et al. Likewise, Asian cuisines have not only gained currency but have even tempted the most jaded palate around the Western world. Now, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Indian foods are selling like hot Pizza and Hamburger, to say nothing of Indian Yoga being accepted the world over for its physical benefits.

Also, here in Manipur, Meiteis' inseparable Iromba has broken the culinary barriers and has diffused onto the dining tables of meat-loving Hill people. And ditto growing acceptance of Ningol Chakkouba among Hill tribes.

Then again we can't imagine our daily meals without fresh Chinggi yensang napi (vegetables from the hills), Sagop (dried meat) or assorted tribal meat curries (selling like hot cake at a market stall around New Checkon), Mao potatoes, Meitei morok regardless of their ethnic prefixes or where they come from.

That aside, Meiteis' heated rice ball Kabok is being stereotyped as Haokip Kanpoh, or rather, Kenpoh in accented Haokip, to cite an injoke. Perhaps it might have been in reference to the clan's liking for the 'Kenpoh'.

Down through centuries, culture has moved on its adaptability. Moreover, culture in globalising world has taken a cumulative turn accommodating new ideas and diffusing rationale norms in it. So, culture, as it was and is, will survive on its adjustability just as Charles Darwin puts it, "it is not the strongest of species that survives nor the most intelligent one, but the one most responsive to changes".


* Lenboi Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express This article was webcasted on November 23, 2010.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #2
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Letter to President on Crisis at MU
  • Precision medicine & life sciences
  • Black topping-can ground leveling be behind
  • Condemns security force intrusion in MU
  • Developer wanted at LMP, Konjeng Leikai
  • AR gears up for International Yoga Day
  • NPF rejoinder to NDPP : 20 June
  • Rejoinder by Dr. Shurhozelie : 20 June
  • For a little bit more
  • Deadline of 5 days time set : MU crisis
  • Garlic Festival @Ukhrul #4 :: Gallery
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #3 : Gallery
  • Inungshi, Gaichanglungliu :: eMing
  • Taking 'Hau' Music to Rest of World
  • Kakching bags cleanest city in NE Award
  • JRF (Junior Research Fellow) at IBSD
  • Oxfam India launches emergency response
  • VC, MU - Resign immediately :: MUTA
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Translation of ancient Manipur texts begin
  • Pre Yoga Capsule organized
  • NDPP Rejoinder on 19 June
  • NPF Youth Wing Rejoinder on 19 June
  • Favouring digital govt : still a Virtual dream
  • June 18 Anniv : Consult all stakeholders
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS