March 22, 2008

Traditions, to abandon them or not... that is the question!

Few days ago, an Iranian blogger posted something about the 'useless', 'baseless' or even 'harmful' traditions in eastern societies, comparing a tradition of Sri Lankan people with a mostly Muslim one. I commented on that post. Today, Rasha, an author in Mideastyouth, posted something about traditions. Here is my comment to Rasha's post, which is relevant to that Iranian blogger's post as well.
Lets suppose that there is a tradition which is of no certain 'practical' use today, yet it does no harm to our cause as intellectuals, i.e. our common sense does not rule it out (as Nissim would argue). Do we have to set it aside?
Though some of the traditions, such as honor killing, are against the very essence of reason, some others have been of some use in the old times and nowadays play a symbolic role. For example, Iranians usually sprinkle a cup of water behind the pilgrim or the beloved one who is about to leave the city. The roots of this tradition back to the ancient Iran, when Persians used to worship several goddesses, one of which was Mitra, the goddess of Water; and this 'water' would be to request Mitra to support and protect the passenger. Yet, over centuries, several other features were added to this tradition: we put some flowers in the cup, as a symbol of nature and freshness; we put a mirror by the cup of water, in which the passenger would look and is a symbol of meditation; and else.
Such symbols play two important roles: first, to remember us of the past; Second, to differentiate our culture from that of others.
With regards to the second role, I'm not about to put a positive value on what we do or what we are as Iranians... I'm just saying that in the age of Globalization, keeping such symbolic traditions shields us against cultural globalization, which often translates into aggressive Americanization that is aimed at eliminating cultural diversity, whether deliberately or not.
By the way, I would agree with Rasha's main idea that one should investigate these traditions so as to ensure that they are not a barrier to the way of progress. I just wanted to emphasize on the role of neutral traditions.


Anonymous said...

Abandoning dishonor killings is a no brainer. There is just no excuse for them.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Hadi.Khojinian said...

happy new yera mate

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