By Swatee Jog
Priorities change in times like this; and hence, a key date for heritage enthusiasts like us was lost amidst the din of the current crisis. 18th April is World Heritage Day. As members of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Belagavi Chapter, we have been celebrating this day with some meaningful activities every year, including heritage walks, presentations and competitions, but this year has been solemn. However, in spite of all the apprehensions and anxieties surrounding us, in spite of being forced to stay home to be safe, we have not let go of that one key factor that binds us all – our true Indian Heritage.
Just look around, you will find all of us bound in the common string of our rich heritage. It received a lot of flak, but we have tried the saree challenge and revived the interest in the six yards.
The social media is abuzz with homes doling out all our culinary delights, from cuisines of all the states and even beyond the country’s borders. When exotic ingredients are not possible to get, the womenfolk have gone back to the grandma’s cookbook and introduced kids to our traditional foods. Recipes, alternative ingredients and pictures are being shared.
All sorts of board games have made a comeback. When the shelves in the supermarkets were brimming with exotic vegetables and foods, we scorned at the local produce. Today, the same humble potato, brinjal, okra, coriander, chillies and coconut have come to our rescue. The box of assorted masalas has become the soul of the kitchen. The desi lemon and watermelon has quenched our summer thirst where no ice creams and cold drinks could help. We are better off with a regular supply of vegetables and milk to our homes. Some fortunate ones have tended their gardens and nurtured the beautiful plants and flowers.
The world over and even in India, kids have been regaled with virtual tours of the museums, historic places and heritage sites. A few older ones have taken online classes to understand our heritage better. Books have come to the rescue for a whole lot of readers.
A small pastime like surfing through old family albums has taught much to the young generation. More so, the strength of the bond of a close knit family.
After two weeks at home, I am seeing numerous households teaching the kids the centuries old prayers and hymns, yoga and even cooking. Parents couldn’t have been happier to revise something they themselves had forgotten.
Yes, the crisis has rejuvenated the soul of India and its rich heritage. But we must also spare a moment of thought for all those craftsmen and artists who have lost their livelihood. Imagine the plight of the bamboo basket weavers of Burud Galli, the coppersmiths of Tambat Galli, the potters of Khanapur, the weavers of Vadgaon and the scores of others who are dependent on traditional means of livelihood. Each one of us is apprehensive and anxious of our future, but these are the people who are the most vulnerable.
This crisis has given us an opportunity to recognize, value and cherish our rich heritage, more than ever before. Don’t lose this opportunity. Let it not be just a passing phase. The local food produce that we’ve got used to, the means of entertainment that we have adopted, the bond of the family that has strengthened, the sharing and caring for our neighbors and even the unknown, may this stay forever and not just in these difficult times. Just like we supported and stood by our countrymen in the difficult times, may we do so when it passes too.
The heritage of our country is extremely rich and touches every aspect of our life. It will help us tide through these times as well only if we commit ourselves to remember its significance.
To explore more about INTACH and India’s rich heritage, do visit the website for details about projects, resources, small films, etc. on www.intach.org.
To introduce kids to the amazing world of heritage, do visit www.youngintach.org