Nature and Culture: the eternal connection
Artforms like literature, music and dance are deep rooted parts of cultures all around the world. Human stories are told through these arts. They talk about the experiences we gather in our life. Surroundings in which we live are reflected in our artforms. Today, I would like to talk about the strong eternal connection between nature and cultures.
Nature through ancient cultures
The evolution of human civilization is always triggered by some event, new learning or accident involving nature. Utilisation of fire for our domestic use was the first big step. Next one came in the form of domestication of wild grasses in the form of agriculture. The other one of many was the domestication of wild beasts starting something we call animal husbandry. We started our process of civilization by interacting with nature. On the other hand, cultural aspects of human society were also developing. These first interactions with nature are depicted in cave paintings made by our ancestors all around the world. These paintings further evolved to glyphs which were used to communicate with each other.
Soon we progressed to the various languages and the birth of fine arts was around the corner. Creative juices in the human mind started flowing and stories and poems emerged. These stories and poems are full of nature and it’s beauty which was around those times. We celebrated nature through our music, paintings, writings and sculptures.
Nature and Indian culture
The most illustrious example of depiction of nature in Indian literature is a Kālidāsa’s lyrical poem Meghadūta. It’s a story of a banished Yaksha. He wants to send a letter to his beloved wife back home. He asks if he can deliver this letter. While describing a way to reach Yaksha’s home, Kalidasa has described the nature, the geography of the land in so detail that it could become a guide for a traveller.
However, nature reflected in our poetry is always a local nature. For example, English kids will sing “Rain rain go away, come again another day” as they rarely get a bright sunny day to play out. On other hand, here in Maharashtra, we have a marathi nursery rhyme exactly opposite where we call out to rain so that it will pour. “ये रे ये रे पावसा, तुला देतो पैसा.” is a classic one.
In India, our climate changes in every region. It reflects in our folk songs very naturally. All the rain songs in the Marathi region will talk about months of Ashadh and Shravan. (आषाढाला पाणकळा, सृष्टी लावण्याचा मळा). But the monsoon reaches northern India almost a month later. So, naturally, all their rain songs talk about Saawan and Bhado. (तेरे नैना सावन भादो, फिर भी मेरा मन प्यासा) and so on. And when a kid in Marathi will relate to a poem गवतफुला रे गवतफुला as he can see the wild grass flowers blooming around just as easily as an English kid can see a Daffodil flower from Wordsworth’s famous poem.
So you also tell me if you find any such examples in the comments below and let me know how you like this post.
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter. You can find my other entries to this campaign here.