What is traditional and modernity? Can these two could be married for a healthy and peaceful living?



Whilst we learn a great deal

From lessons transferred  by our forefathers

Becomes our stepping stone

From where we can pick and choose

Our life’s norms suiting us the most

Intention counts much

Freedom for deciding

What we want following

We have to introspect thoroughly

What was good in the days gone by

Called traditional way of thinking

Is still relevant at this instant indeed

Like paying respect

To our older members of our society

Observing fast on some days so vital

Celebrating our regional festivals

Including our national festival

Also,  events like Eid, Diwali, Dussehra and Christmas

With enthusiasm and with highest fervor.

Some norms of behavior

Which have lost their sheen with passage of time

These rites, rituals and social customs

Are  just shown the door permanently.

Healthy mix of both

Bestows us fond hope

For living a life full of peace

Proving – when both tradition & modernity marry

Together these grant us avenue to make merry.   

What is traditional and modernity? Can these two could be married for a healthy and peaceful living? 

A practice which has long since followed and passed from generation to generation with time is traditional in nature and what is relevant today is modernity. Then with the similar yardstick, moderns of every / any age considered themselves contemporary; in sync with the time and those in the past traditionalist and old and haggard hence obsolete. it may be social custom, rites, attitudes, habits etc? Our forefathers termed themselves as more value oriented, more accustomed to traditional way of thinking and outlook. Even now, people who have lived their lives, just compare the value system of today and then when they were young.

Who is traditionalist – individual, groups of individuals, family or society which follow particular way of starting the day’s chores, following a positive approach when thinking about an idea when initiating something new, thanks giving to the God when something gets fructified, thanking somebody who does some favour to us, fasting to cleanse body and mind, need for meditation and prayers for maintaining connectivity with God etc. These traditional value systems are just transferred or handed down by our forefathers from generations together so that continuity of good behavioral norms remains intact and pursued. It may be value system, cultural traditions in the form of various festivals in the community, particular beliefs/ faiths, rituals and rites, religious teachings/preaching, particular norms to be followed with it, method of prayers etc.

The traditionalists generally  make comparisons with modern world; like in olden days there used to be more respect for the older members of the society; joint family system prevailed where old people had a say in the affairs of the family, oriental ways of thinking where respect is paid to Nature and its varied forms (Creator with all His creations are duly respected – trees, animals including Sun, Moon etc). Thus the thought which we inherit from our older members of the society, a usual pattern of ideas or actions or a particular behavior pattern or a body of beliefs which are rampant in the society since time memorial.

Then there is question of cultural continuity, social behavioral patterns which bind us with our society and if we deviate from those norms we are considered as outcastes or pseudo-modernists. Just to live and grow with the society, we are constraint to follow traditional behavior patterns which suit us. This affords us the opportunity to assimilate with the members of our society.

Many a times, we break with the tradition due to present experiences and lessons learnt. There are some social and cultural festivals which are in fact local in nature but are continuing since long, these are:

  • Sankat Chouth Vrat (A fast which is observed by the ladies for the wellbeing of the children).
  • Karva Chauth. Fast observed by the married women for the wellbeing of their husbands (in this fast the women do not take even water and take water given by her husband when the moon is seen on the sky).
  • Vash Dua: This fast also is observed by the ladies of the household for the wellbeing of the entire family along with pet animals).
  • Ganesha Sankat Chauth Fast – this fast is observed on Ganesha Caturthi by the devotees of Lord Ganesha for the wellbeing of the entire family. This year this fast would be on 27th Jan 2016.
  • Observing Shradha for our dead ancestors. In order to keep the memory of our ancestors who are no longer with us, offerings of food is made to Brahmins – it is believed that by doing so we not only remember them but also pray for them.


Then we have special traditional relationship of respect for our Gurus – a most revered one who is a spiritual master and self realized individual. The relationship between disciple and Guru is most sacred – it is an old traditional based (parampra). The Gur Mantra given by the revered Guru is a binding force between the two. Guru helps the individual concerned in self realization (self aware) besides helping that individual in connecting with God. The importance of Guru is highlighted

in Bhagwad Gita as: Learn the Truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him with reverence and render service unto him. Such an enlightened Saint can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the Truth.


It is in fact in joint family all members are duly respected and provided care and protection, our teachers who mold our life, our older members of the society etc. But as joint family system (Grand parents, their children along with their spouse(s) and others) has given place to nuclear family system (consisting of both the spouses and children) partly due to employment of the breadwinner and partly due to social compulsion/personal reasons particular to the spouses.

With the sea of changes that science and technology have wrought and resultant pressures that the family fabric have been subjected to, changes in our mindset per se are considered in essence a crying necessity. The things which were considered indispensable are dispensed with out-rightly – it is rather intriguing on its face value but it happens.


As time passes on, humans evolve, in thoughts and actions. This evolution takes for granted some of the traditional thoughts which has lost much of its utility or may have proven outdated with the passage of time.  It has also been observed that people living in rural areas are more traditionalists than those living in urban areas – urban elites are more updated about the new knowledge and knowhow and hence more prone to modernistic attitude.

  • Practice of Sati. Be that as it may, the earlier held custom of Sati; women whose husbands died, she was, regardless of her choice, had to sit in her funeral pyre duly bedecked and then pyre lit. She died then and there. Afterwards, a temple used to be raised at that place and respect paid to the departed soul. Raja Rammohan Roy, renowned social reformer educated people to shun this ill-conceived traditional    Presently the custom has been stopped through legislation (law of land).
  • Child Marriage. There was custom of child marriage, especially in rural areas. This practice was prevalent since long. This had disastrous consequences since both the boy and girl, at that time were very young in age – were dependent on others for their needs. This practice too resulted in giving birth to many a social, ethical and moral implications.
  • Then Bull Fight in Tamil Nadu – Pongal Festival Jallikattu has been banned by the Supreme Court recently despite notification by the Central Government.
  • Superstition of Crossing Path By a Cat When One is Walking. Some prevalent superstitions like crossing a cat the way when one is walking that path. It is believed that crossing your way by a cat means a bad omen and consequences are deemed to be disastrous though that person may be going for an important commitment.
  • Superstition of a Sneeze When One is Going For a Urgent Obligation. When a person is starting his/her job, and there is a sneeze by somebody. This is considered a bad omen. People just stop going for the job in hand.
  • Some other traditional superstitions like; entry of bride or groom in the family for the first time by putting some tamarind oil on the floor near the entrance gate of the house. This act is considered also auspicious for receiving guest of honour or welcoming newborn.


Life is like constant currents of the ocean – one current gives place to another and the process just goes on. With passage of time, the steady evolutionary changes take place in human psyche. With it all, the old beliefs and attitudes once held sacrosanct change with time. At the same time some social norms and practices still persist because of these are considered essential due to one reason or another. For example, what has been transferred to us by our forefathers and is connected with our family values and faiths; like festivals which has seasonal occurrence (Lohri, Holi, Pongal, etc) or National Festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day or some traditional religious based festivals like Eid, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas or festivals which has regional or connected with family-tree connectivity/overtones continue uninterrupted. For example, I usually attend annual Khajuria brotherhood congregation {his  mela in Baba Jito Shrine at Zeeeri (Jammu District)}.


Modernists, are of the opinion that with time, our some of our traditional thinking should give place to modern thoughts. They view that even in the human relations immense evolution have resulted. The joint family system has given place to nuclear or unit family system, where only the wife, husband and the children live and share everything but live separately. Thus all the financial and other responsibilities are taken by husband and wife. More often, both the spouses are constraint to work. When both are working, then their children remain without quality time from the parents, consequently they remain loveless for most period of their childhood. Owing to this, children just while their time and are influenced by the situations and environments they are placed. Also, the modernists say that the traditionalists want to stick to the old and defunct traditional way of thinking. If one has to acquire a house for the joint family in the big cities (where both the spouses work), it is financially not possible and to rent a house too is not viable because the daily expenditure that it entails for the entire joint family is exorbitant. The modernists too think that they want their children to grow up independently – without any encumbrances. In modernist view, the spirit of enquiry is encouraged now whereas in traditional way of thinking it is discouraged besides everybody has the liberty to keep pace with the changes that are taking place. In their views, when science and technology has changed so much then why we have to stick to the old and worn-out way of thinking and acting. With availability of new goods and services has made it necessary for us to acquire these things for daily use. Though industrialization has made our environment polluted, resulting in various lung related diseases, yet there new medicines have resulted in enhancement of our life span.


Conclusively, it could be believed that both thoughts based on modernity and traditionalist could be wedded but for this to happen, we have to first understand which traditional norms require continuation besides we have to change our mindset accordingly. It is the combination of the two that any society could move forward. Any rigid stand on one could lead to widening the chasm between the two. But I opine that excessive reliance on traditional way of thinking could put a spanner in our progressive thinking.

The modern men should think that we are reaping the harvest of our forefathers for their inventions and also in the field of literature – not that modern man have not done anything. Hence, it can conveniently be deduced that our traditionalists must adopt some modern ways of thinking if cohesion and cooperation between the two is to be ensured. Modernity will not have its footstep on the ground if they leave traditional thinking.




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3 thoughts on “What is traditional and modernity? Can these two could be married for a healthy and peaceful living?”

  1. I think that truly striving for this marriage is what keeps us young at heart. In the increasingly secular society of UK I regret that it is very difficult to find Christmas cards bearing the religious image, yet we are also reminded that the timing of the celebration pays homage to more ancient myths. I am also becoming aware that many Americans have no idea what Thanksgiving is about, and call the period between that and 25th December simply ‘the holidays’, to avoid mention of Christianity. I say this despite my Catholicism having lapsed.

    1. Thanks sincerely for your most relevant comments.

      I totally agree with you sir; keeping balance between the two keeps us ‘young at heart’ we are in fact having a ‘I care less’ type of attitude; may it to address issues of keeping our traditions like ‘thanksgiving’ or to try getting good things from other religions etc.

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