High-Tech Traditionalism

by | New Delhi, India

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

tags: asia, contributions from, culture, disciplines, global vectors, header navigation

This week, Semionaut looks at soft science coding.

The Siddhi Vinayak temple in Bombay has a website (pictured below) wherein devotees can have an online, live darshan of the pujas being conducted daily. Lord Ganesha is the Hindu god who removes all obstacles in one’s path and is hence the god who is always prayed to at the commencement of any new venture. The temple is famous amongst the thousands of Ganesha temples across the country as one where the miraculous powers of the god is strongest and the wishes of devotees have the best chance of being fulfilled.

Electric diyas (lamps), shaped like the traditional lamps but fitted with small bulbs so that they switch on at the press of a button, and which can be kept safely lit throughout the day and night, are a modern invention. These are designed to replace the traditional lamps that are filled with oil and have cotton wicks that need to be lit — a process that is messy and can also be a fire hazard. 

Families who are spread between India and the USA use Skype and webcams to keep grandparents and grandchildren fully connected and integrated. Making use of the time difference, when it is bed time for the grandchildren, the grandmothers start their morning telling their grandchildren the traditional stories of Indian culture, e.g., from the Ramayana.

Matrimonial websites in India are designed to address the Indian preference for arranged marriages and to enable parents to hunt for brides and grooms for their children. This is in contrast to dating-and-mating websites in the West which are designed for individuals to find their own partners. Bhajans (devotional songs) are amongst the most popular caller tune downloads amongst a large segment of consumers, including youth. Many use these bhajans to signal their personality and identity amongst their social network.

These cultural artefacts reveal that Indian culture embraces change but with continuity. The traditions that live on through the ages, do so in an updated form that fit with the context and environment of the time. The content and spirit remain unchanged but the form and format are contemporized. Hindu culture has morphed in this manner from the time of the first Muslim conquests of India in the early 1100s to the advent of the Moghuls, the British, and now modern consumerism.

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