Retaining Sanity in Insane Times : COVID’19

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Rani Ki Baoli, Rajasthan with the sun streaming through the main entrance giving a deeply meditative interplay of light and dark
Rani Ki Baoli, Rajasthan with the sun streaming through the main entrance giving a deeply meditative interplay of light and dark.

Today, the world has come to a standstill. Everything that mattered suddenly seems inconsequential. The global pandemic - COVID’19 has compelled us to remain in lockdown. However Indians may be better equipped to handle this crisis. I see people around the world on the internet taking it very hard psychologically and emotionally being restricted to their houses. It led me to wonder how so many Indians and families around me are managing to stay afloat.

The cultural tradition of India is an amalgamation of numerous different cultures. Practices such as yoga and meditation prevalent throughout the country promote self introspection as well as communitarian behaviour.

It is difficult to classify Indian culture as collectivist or individualist because in our society collectivism coexists with individualism. To elaborate further - A very important component of individualist behaviour is the intentionality to serve collectivist interests. And therefore we are able to be self dependant during these difficult times because we are aware that this is a prerequisite for the collectivist cause of fighting the pandemic. 

Our ancient Indian philosophies, the Vedanta for instance focus on meditation, self-discipline and spiritual connectivity, which is quintessential in times of social distancing. 

The concepts by propagated Indian philosophy of Atman showcases the concepts of self reliance and individualism and perhaps this is the reason Indians are more able to battle the rather dark sides of the lockdown - loneliness depression and mental fatigue. This is beautifully encapsulated in the song“Ekla Cholo Re” by noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore. 

India is also the birthplace of Buddhism which consequently spread around the world through intersecting points on the silk route. Buddhism has a  strong individualistic component: everyone has responsibility for their own happiness in life, and the emphasis on the philosophy of Samadhi - Concentration, meditation, mental development emphasises the strengthening of our mental health. 

It’s not only our Indian ethos and culture, we live in a world of digitalisation and there is not a minute in our day when we are not entertained. Right from memes on social media to youtube videos to binge watching shows on Netflix and amazon prime, we are perpetually entertained. 

There are several ways through which we are maintaining our calm during the lockdown -

Take cuisine for one! Indians love cooking, not just females, a large proportion of males have also been witnessed taking up cooking in this lockdown period. Whereas normally in many parts of the world, people dread deciding and cooking each meal in the day as they would prefer the microwavable dishes and ready made food from Walmart and other stores.  

The kitchen and various culinary traditions are prominent in the Indian household. With every state in the country having a different composition of dishes we never run of new recipes to try. Right from the mornings, WhatsApp groups start flooding peoples phones with the delicious recipes they have tried out.

We have even taken the best of the western practices - the other day, my eleven year old neighbour did a balcony concert, everyone was out in their balconies, cheering and singing songs. 

Being in these troubled times, there is so much panic mongering. In India, the infrastructure and facilities are not like those of the more advanced countries. We are a developing nation but our culture and its easy coexistence with the global culture enables us emotionally and psychologically to deal with the grave pandemic situation. 

Stay safe. Stay well.

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The way towards calm does not see boundaries, Buddhism originating in India illuminating Wat Pho, Thailand
The way towards calm does not see boundaries, Buddhism originating in India illuminating Wat Pho, Thailand
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