“Jana Gana Mana”, we all know is the national anthem of India. But very few of us know that it is only the first of the five stanzas composed by Rabindranath Tagore. The second stanza in Bengali when translated to English goes –

Your call is announced continuously,
we heed your gracious call
The Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsees,
Muslims, and Christians,
The East and the West come together,
to the side of your throne
and weave the garland of love.
Oh! You who bring in the unity of the people!
Victory be to you, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to you!

India has always embraced the fact that people flow from different cultures. The rivers flowing across our country bear testimony to the fact that all them unite together into the oceans. In diversity lies, our unity and our merits.

  1. Helps us to embrace people from all walks of life

I remember during my school days, we never asked our classmates’ religion much less his or her surname or caste. We were all classmates!

The only thing we knew was each one person’s lunch box had something different to offer. We have grown up being a part of each others’ festivals, relishing their regional delicacies, dressing up as someone in fancy dress, trying to catch up on their dialects! Funny what all we did, in a manner shaped us to embrace other cultures. It was an embedded gift and we never knew we were learning to co-exist.

  1. Religious tolerance

A word which has been tossed more around than the omelette these days! But, please spare a moment what does “to tolerate” mean – to a school kid it just means “to bear with something”. From where I see it, I never tolerated any of my friends during school days; they were a part of my universe. As a school kid we never had any relevance to the meaning tolerate; why should it now? We are more open to other cultures as we grow. We are a clean slate. We learn their culture and share ours. In differences are rare in such an atmosphere.

  1. Adjust with different cultures around the world

Growing up with different ethnic backgrounds moulds us in a better way to perceive and understand other countries and their cultures better.

We are able to blend in other environs. We look out to learn from other culture – their cuisine, their history, their languages and ethnicity. You will be surprised at the number of foreign students learning Sanskrit in Indian universities.

  1. Evolves personality

Friends from different backgrounds help us to stay rooted to reality. We read about ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in the news these days. I always imagine, haven’t they grown up with kids of other religious backgrounds. If they had, would they think of harming a friend, even if they belong to a different culture of religion? Friends are quasi- family. They make and define our value systems too.

  1. Acceptance and Open

“There are no elements so diverse that cannot be joined in the heart of a man “– Jean Giraudoux

We aren’t judgemental about our friends. We learn to accept each one with an open heart. Their beliefs, language or dressing sense does not surprise us. No one feels like an outcast. Westerners feel intimidated by “pagadi” or a “hijab”. We never feel the same. This is because we have grown up as one of the different cultures and states in India. Ever tried to listen to the different languages that echo around in a second class train compartment! Ever felt out of place? Ha-ha! Never, right. Well that explains that we feel in our skin in diverse cultures.

  1. Give and take, really!

It’s kind of selfish, but imagine if it were not for different cultures, states and religions, we would have missed out on all the good things. Festivals were never limited to our festivals only. We get to lay our hands on all kinds of cuisine. Well, tell me, now who doesn’t love to eat? We get to learn other languages, visit their states, and enjoy their hospitality. We are also more open to welcome inter-state, inter-religious and inter-cultural marriages.

We imbibe and absorb so many good things from our friends. Friends are the key to keep us glued together as one nation. We all smile in the same language.

We may have

Different religions,

Different languages,

Different coloured skin,

But we belong to 1 Human Race “

– Kofi Annan

*Source – Wikipedia