Cultural differences between India and Poland- Part I

Culture and Religion

We Indians, and Poles share the same basic human values, like family, respect for the elders, etc..etc.. But there are some fundamental differences

Polish people very often ask me about the ‘holy cow’. Yes, it is true, as many of You know, in India cows have more rights, than normal people. In most parts of India, except in Kerala, it is considered as a religious crime to kill a cow(being insensitive to some one’s religious beliefs). The main reason we respect the cow, is because of lord Krishna. The favourite animal of Krishna is the cow. So, harming the cow is like harming Krishna.

Innym powodem, dla którego szanujemy krowę jest to, że krowa mogła wspierać całą rodzinę z mlekiem, masłem i jego odchodów, które ludzie w wioskach używają jako paliwa do gotowaniu i do odcieplenia domu . Istnieją nawet domy zbudowane z krowiego łajna. Dziwne to brzmi dla ludzi spoza Indii. Ale do dziś krowy są traktowane lepiej niż ludzie. Jeśli zabijesz krowę idącą drogą, to jesteś raczej narażony na kłopoty niż gdybyś zabił chłopa w wiosce indyjskiej. ja nawet tutaj nie przesadzam.

The other reason, why we respect the cow is that, a cow could sustain a whole family with milk, butter, and the cow dung, which people in villages use as fuel, or as a cooling agent or their roof tops(during nights it gets cold). There are even houses where walls are painted with cow dung(it might sound really nasty, but actually cow dung is much more purer than animal feaces). It might sound disgusting, but it actually works. But to this date, cows are treated better than people in some villages. If You kill a cow in an Indian village, You will face more trouble than, if You would have killed a young boy. I am not even exaggerating here.

I was born in a Hindu family. In Poland, when You say ‘Hindus’ You would have in mind someone from India. But for some one from India, it might seem pretty confusing being called Hindus when he is an Indian practising Islam or Christianity.

Our family was very religious. We would go to temple almost every week, and visit famous shrines. Our parents brought us up to fear god, be nice to people etc. I was wearing a talisman almost all my life. This is something the preacher gives us to bring us good luck and prosperity, so that bad energy won’t come to us.

The first day i came here, i threw it away. I decided no!, I am not an Indian. It is time to be Polish. I was excited to be on my own. I can date finally. ask girls out, go to parties. I tried to loose my Indian identity and become as European as soon as possible. The first two three years in Poland, I didn’t pray, drank occasionally (but much more than back home), partied every weekend and during the week. I went to as many dates as possible. I just went full on European. During this time i was still having trouble to be European though. I couldn’t date the people i wanted to, or win over the girls who i wanted to date, because still inside my heart i was an indian. The values i held were Indian. I couldn’t accept things like quick romance , staying late night outside, drinking , kissing strangers or even going home with them. I wanted it all, and tried my best . I felt that finally I am free. I didn’t study, just spent all my time partying.

Poland on the one hand is a very catholic country. Even though the country is officially more than 90 percent catholic, there are very few practicing people. In India we are a Hindu majority nation. More than 80 percent of the people are practicing Hindu’s or atleast are god fearing. In Poland the majority of youngsters don’t count themselves as ‘Christians’. Even though they attend the easter, christmas feasts and go to church, they still lead their life with their own values not the values imposed by the church. But still the church has a huge control over many facets of Your cultyre(more on that later)

When You ask a Pole if he is catholic , he/she would say ‘Yes but not practicing’. In India if You ask some one if he is a religious person, then the answer would be yes. Nowadays its getting a little bit popular to say You are an atheist(i did try it once ,because it was cool), but still Your grand mother and mother would constantly motivate You to go to the temple. I remember when i said to my mom  that i don’t want to go to all these temples with her and dad, she seriously thought i am disowning the power of god, or whether i have turned evil or something. I would laugh with my brother once in a while about our so called ‘temple tours’. Every weekend our parents would come up with these tours to another states to visit shrines. We didn’t want to go., but rejecting their proposal is equal to not respecting god.

You see we treat god like a human being. For us Krishna , Shiva, Parvathy or Brahma are people with human like features. They have powers, charisma. Krishna is known for his charm. For women he is the cutest little person, he is mischievous, he steals butter from the kitchen when mom is not watching, he would flirt with women. He is the favourite person /the idolised version of every woman. Women have Krishna embedded in their minds, from their teenage years

Shiva on the other hand is more a symbol of patience, virtue, hard work, dedication. He can give You what You want, if you persist enough. He could gift You with anything even if You are a evil person, and have evil intentions. But only if You are really dedicated to Your cause and have Your goals set .

Both krishna and shiva existed in this world. Even though they were part of our mythological books Mahabharatha(translated to the great India), and Ramayana (the story of Rama) , they were still living creatures for us and we believe that they existed once

i remember once some one asked me about the indian god Kali. i said, ‘Kali? ah she is crazy’. She is the destroyer of all evil, she has skulls and bones on her neck and she wears them after she kills the other person. She is a good person, and she is the destroyer of evil people and evil character in our mythology. Once i finished that sentence, my friend started laughing because she has never heard such an explanation about god from someone.

i asked her why, and she mentioned that she has never heard someone explain a god, in such a way which depicts it as a live character. Suddenly i realised that for us Kali actually existed. and we treat her like a friend, a mother ,our sister whatever You want to call it

I for once have noticed that in Christian mythology, Christ is a form which is above everyone. He will forgive You for Your sins. You have heard about him in the bible. He suffered a lot for the evil deeds of other men. He had qualities which a normal person would never possess. He is something above all. No one has ever seen him . At least one doesn’t describe him as his friend. No one can consider even thinking of christ as his best friend , let alone as some one similar to him. It is something unattainable. No other person will be like him.

That is the main difference i see between our religions.

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