A conversation with an average man:
"Do you know about the lives of the mighty Indian kings of the Chola kingdom and their history"?
"History about the kings?? Who cares about a king who ruled my country 1000 years ago? He is not related to me by any means. I’m an earnest family man. It’s a competitive world. I care only about my family. And I don't feel bad to be selfish."
"Agreed. So only your family is important for you. OK, so what is the name of your great grandfather's father?""Well.. Err….. ?!?!?!?????!!"
If indifference to history is reasoned to be because of selfishness, what could be one good reason behind not even knowing one’s own family’s history?
Genealogy is the study of family histories and tracing lineages. I’ve known 5 generations above my ancestral tier. It’s not just a hobby that is exciting and satisfying, but it also brings out a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations. With the emergence of social media sites like Facebook, the concept of "building one's network" has become so popular. Many genealogy sites like ancestry.com have also sprouted. These sites help you build your own family tree where you can create a profile with all information for each of your family members and ancestors. Sparing a few moments of your Facebook time and building your family tree with a little research could yield wonders (you can brag about your ‘big network’ here as well!). In the course of time, you may even end up tracing back your ancestry to ancient kings and even to different countries! Hitherto unknown family connections (with other users' family trees) can be uncovered too. It would be extremely interesting and satisfying (unless it happens that you discover your girlfriend to be your distant cousin :P).
It is very common in many Asian cultures to celebrate death anniversaries in commemoration of deceased family members. During such anniversaries, it is typical to do rituals in front of old photos of the deceased ancestor with offerings of all the food dishes which were the ancestor's favorites during his/her life time. Sometimes, the rituals continue with a food offering to cows and crows too. And after the rituals, the “offered” food is devoured in its full amounts by all the relatives who attend the ceremony. Rather than just seeing this as a ceremony just for the heck of it and for eating a sumptuous line up of food varieties, it could be rationally used for discussing about the life of the ancestor and making the young generation draw inspiration out of it! Here, the long tradition of ancestor worship is not being condemned, but rather it is insisted that a death anniversary should not just stop with a customary ritual. Instead, it should be a starting point to a worthy learning of a lifetime to younger generations! With the ancestors being consciously remembered and learnt from, every year, can there be a better way to make their souls rest in peace?
Today there are over 25 million people of Indian origin, who live in different countries of the world. They have emigrated to the Malay archipelago, South Africa, Caribbean islands, Canada, US, UK, Australia and to many other countries. But most of these people have lost their Indian identity, ethnic authenticity and forgot their ancestral connections. Blame them not, when someone in your household doesn’t know the name of your great grandfather’s father.
Oh, is that YOU I’m referring to, here?!