On one of our first days in the lesser famous city of Bandung, Indonesia, we hired a car to take us around the place.
The driver named Md. Alam spoke passable English and we managed to have a decent conversation as he drove us around the city showing us various historical sights there.
While enroute to various places, I saw numerous shops there with the name of “Ganesha”, may it be a regular grocery store or an auto shop or anything.
I turned to Alam and ask, “Ganesha seems to be a pretty popular name here”
“Oh yes it is”, Alam said, “You will find many places and shops named Ganesha here”
“Thats pretty cool, you know, especially since Indonesia is a Muslim dominated country and yet there is such a liberal use of the name Ganesha”, I said.
“Ganesha is a part of Indonesian culture, our Country’s culture”, said Alam, in a matter of fact way, “Religion and National Culture are two different things, isnt it?”, he asked.
“Umm yes, you are right about that”, I said smiling.
“You know its a lot like India, out here. Like you have your Taj Mahal. It was built by a Muslim King. But Indians admire and respect it because its a part of the Indian culture”, he continued.
I did not have the heart to update Alam about the latest controversy over Taj Mahal.
“Yes … Taj Mahal is a part of the Indian Culture and will remain so”, I said firmly, more to myself than to Alam.
Alam made a very sensible point there. The culture of the Country is the culture of everyone living in the Country. Every country has a distinct culture which is a mix of the religions which thrive in the Country.
India has always been a land of mixed religions and the Indian culture will always remain a blend of various cultures. That is what gives us the uniqueness that we boast about and the World appreciates.
Disclaimer: I wonder when we, the people, started disowning the Culture of India based on the diktats of a few jokers. Then again, a few jokers do not denote or represent the Culture of our whole Nation.