My culture identity – by Aminath Afra

My Cultural identity Cultural identity consists of race, religion, class, gender, and family’s identities. Moreover, national, social and personal identity also contributes to one’s cultural identity, as these characteristics shape the entire person, making us who we are. I belong to a multicultural family. My father is a Sri Lankan, my mother is a Maldivian and I was born in India. Sri Lanka has a lot of cultural believes and religions.

According to the Library of congress, “Lanka is known as the “resplendent land”–in the early Indian epic Ramayana, the island has several other locations that state to the island’s natural beauty and wealth”. However the culture of Maldives is a mixture of many cultures. The power of the British and the Islamic religion has made Maldives into a loving pot of many different cultures.

In my family, and throughout my life, I have been following the Maldivian culture. The Maldives is also a 100 per cent Islamic country. I am the youngest child in my family. There are a lot of things that has made me who I am today. My family had a vast impact in my life; the major, most important part of me is my faith towards Allah. I believe that there is no God but Allah and prophet Mohammad (SAW) is his last messenger. The religious value shapes every aspect of my everyday life I grew up in the capital of The Maldives (MALE’) where my mom’s family had a history.

Our family was always respected by the elderly people of my grandfather’s age, because my grandfather was a trustworthy, generous, and outspoken man. He was against the government and took the risk and spoke for the right of the citizens of Maldives. This was not allowed in Maldives long time ago.

At that time Maldives was ruled by the rich and the government. In addition, at that time our society was having high power distance. However, now after the democracy was introduced, we can see that our society is having a low power distance. Normally in The Maldives, it is usual for extended families to live under one roof and there is belief upon individuals to help out financially and emotionally to even extended family members.

Living in an extended family, I find it easy for; financial assistance, medical treatments, and other family activities are expected from other members in extended family. In my culture, individuals who have succeeded high educational qualifications or have managed to gather vast wealth are measured to be high achievers, despite of their quality of life. For example, majority of families who come to the Capital Male’ to educate their children stays back in Male’ after their children have finished their education, even though they could have a better comfortable and stress less life with more space and peace back in their island.

I have also had experiences through travels in which my cultural understanding was expanded impressively. I have been to my father’s hometown in Sri Lanka and my birth place in India, I experienced the cultures are really different from my culture. They had people with different religions and different cultural beliefs. This was a great experience because almost everything was different even when I went to visit my relatives. I realized; the language they speak, their attire, behavior and food they eat were different.

However my parents explained to me that I have to also adopt the Sri Lankan culture since I am a half Sri Lankan. At first I found it really hard to adjust, since in my father’s culture girls are not even allowed to talk with their cousin brothers. Most of my cousin sisters stopped their studies from the age of eleven years and they were also not allowed to work. By the age of eighteen years they get married. I was shocked to see this because in the culture that I was brought up, girls had the freedom to study and work.

Moreover, in the Sri Lankan culture they eat sitting on the floor, this was also a tradition that was followed by my father’s ancestors. Although there were something that were difficult to adapt, I didn’t have a difficulty in learning the language, since The Maldives language Dhivehi is mixed with a little bit of Sri Lankan language Sinhala. I enjoyed my stay in Sri Lanka and now I believe that I won’t have any difficulties in adopting another culture. The communication norms that are practiced in my family are similar to Islamic culture. We greet each another with Assalaam a’laikum (peace be upon you) and a hand shake.

In order to show respect, when an elder person is talking young children must not interfere. Girls are thought to be well quiet and well mannered. Apart from how my culture, society and religion have shaped me, my social identities have also helped me to become what I am today. I am proud of my culture and religion because it has showed me the right and wrong, given me freedom to study and work. I believe in life I have had lots of experience meeting people from different cultures and beliefs. There might have been times that I have discriminated cultures but living in a different environment I realized that every culture is right on its own perception.

#AminathAfra

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