Aloha Team | Updates

31st March 2020
Dr Ashwini Joshi
Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Physician’s Viewpoint – Indian Culture
COVID 19 pandemic succeeded in bringing the manmade world to a standstill. Not for days but from weeks to months. It has forced all of us to rethink. Revisit and repair all that went wrong over the last few decades.

Looking at the current statistics of India as compared to most of the western world, as of now, we all have been able to limit the exponential rise in new COVID 19 cases and restricting the mortality.

With a lot of time to spare now during this lockdown period, let us try to see how we Indians can reraise our cultural norms and bring them back in our daily routine.

Medicine is essential after disease but, a lifestyle change or basic morals put forth by our Indian culture will definitely help all of us fight against or limit the spread of most of the bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic diseases.

India’s culture is among the World’s oldest; civilization in India began 4500 years ago. It has been described as “Sa Prathama Sanskriti Vishwavara” – the first and the supreme culture in the world. We have made significant advances in the field of architecture (Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, etc), Mathematics (Zero), Astrophysics and also Medicine.

Western societies considered our culture primitive and inferior.
It is time we all stop following all practices of the western world instinctively. And we start embracing our culture emphatically.

Recently the world has started to replicate our spirit of Namaskar (Pranamasan or Anjali mudra). We Indian greet all strangers with Namaskaram and definitely avoid a handshake. We avoid a hug or even a kiss in the air! That is not Indian. The science has undoubtedly shown now the relevance in the spread of contagious diseases. Thus in this Coronaviris epidemic, our own Indian greeting Namaste has become a global gesture.
India is a country of diverse cultures and practices, every 50 km we find a new language and custom. The tradition of washing the feet, hands and face before entering the house is still routine in rural India. Outside chappals/footwear is strictly prohibited in most Indian houses. Now the world is promoting these habits to prevent transmission of infectious agents to family members. A small adaptation of this practice by every individual, wherever staying will certainly help in preventing diseases. Hand wash before eating food, cooking food and after Nature’s call are a mandate.

Our culinary practices with use of vast variety of spices and condiments has put India first in the list of countries having similar customs, followed by Iran, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mexico.

India contributes to 75% of global spice production. Most of the spices and herbs which we use routinely in our kitchen are medicinal. From seeds like mustard, nutmeg, flower buds like cloves to Stigmas such as saffron and roots like turmeric, ginger etc. we have an enormous basket of spices! They all have substantial antioxidant activity property.

Yoga is associated with the culture and heritage of India. In Sanskrit, yoga means ‘to unite’ and describes a way to live a healthy life. The western world has definitely realized the importance of Yoga Shastra in daily routine. They are slowly but surely adapting to it. Yoga originated in India almost 4500 years ago. Yogabhyas should be included as a part of the academic curriculum of all Indian schools. Our children/ next generation will benefit largely if they learn it and practice it lifelong. Yoga should become a way of life. Yogasanas help in strengthening our muscles of body as well as heart, improving flexibility of all joints, improving our lung breathing capacity by Pranayama and Kapalbhati.
Meditation is a part of Yoga which helps us regain our mental solace. Yoga doesn’t need any fancy equipment but only a great teacher. Our nation has famous yoga Gurus like Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, B K S Iyengar, Jaggi Vasudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shakar and Baba Ramdev to name a few. They made us believe that yoga is not only for yogis but for commoners as well.
Cleanliness is next to godliness. This is reiterated by our Hon. PM Shri Narendraji Modi by initiating the Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan. Cleanliness starts with personal hygiene and extends to our surroundings – house, workplace, common areas, public spaces, toilets, everywhere. Our tradition emphasis on early morning bath, use of clean and neat washed simple clothing suitable to all the climate and work.

Rural India, especially the Konkan belt still has outdoor water closets with eco-friendly sewage disposal system. So cleanliness is the basic rule to keep away from disease.

Our heritage has umpteen rituals as well. The science behind these rituals shall be discussed in our next article. Till then let us all unite and reconnect, as the World is one family: Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam.

Let us all follow the path showed by leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Shri Ravindranath Tagore as to how we all can make our Bharat a Vishwa Guru AGAIN.

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