Culture and Change

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Questions, Intuitions, Revisions: Storytelling as Inquiry

2005 Web Report

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Culture and Change

Rushita Patel

I closed my eyes and listened to the sound the scissors made as they innocently snipped my long, beautiful black hair, little by little. My heart was pounding so forcefully that it felt as if I could feel it pushing against the surface of my chest. I was more nervous than I had ever been. Sitting there that day in the black, hair infested chair, I looked up into the mirror and realized that the simple haircut that was almost completed, will exemplify a small movement away from the accepted traditions of Indian culture.

The conservation of beauty is very important within Indian culture. Indian aesthetical culture contains rich, elaborate palaces with stunning decorations; a prominent palace is the Taj Mahal. Its magnificence is known world wide, one reason being it is a beautiful work of art. Even paintings and drawings, so many include eye-catching colors which make the artworks glamorous.

Beauty isn't contained within just buildings and artwork, it is also portrayed though entertainment. Bharatnatyam, a traditional Indian dance, is performed through facial expressions. The performer dresses in an intricate Indian outfit full of colors and jewels, with long hair (if the person doesn't have long hair a wig is applied), makeup and a lot of jewelry. Indian movies contain all types of themes, but within each movie the actress and actor are always attractive. The houses represented within the movies are always decorated and the outfits worn by the performers are elegant and rich. Indian television commercials that persuade viewers to buy shampoo and oil for the hair, are always are played by gorgeous women with amazing straight, long black hair.

Not only does Indian culture value physical beauty, it also values natural beauty. In Indian culture it is believed that humans and life were created by God. Therefore, it is important to preserve what God has naturally given us. This is the reason Hindu religion evades the consumption of meat. Cosmetics are looked down upon, since they cover up the natural face of a woman and instead form a fabricated appearance.

As a reader, you are probably wondering how my haircut ties into this paper. Well as I mentioned earlier, in Indian culture natural beauty is valued and hair makes a person beautiful naturally. Highlights and hair styles are not accepted and instead are looked upon as fake ways of altering the natural beauty of hair, already given by God. It is ok to trim hair, but nothing more. When I decided to get my hair cut, it was a big step for me. I was going against the culturally accepted trend and instead trying something new. Why did I have to conform to something when I knew I could try something novel; its not like cutting my hair was harmful to me or my culture.

When my hair cut was finished, I looked again at the mirror and felt confident but egotistical at the same time. I know that due to the eagerness of wanting a haircut, I had cut not only a part of my hair but also a part of my culture along with it. However, despite the fact that I knew I had created a small movement away from my culture, I also knew that it was just a very tiny fraction and no harm had been done. Culture should be preserved, but as time goes on and things change, I think a little alteration is healthy.

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