Watching a Bollywood song in silent mode is highly entertaining, so my attention was intermittently attracted by the TV, but something strange has caught my attention now and gifted me with a subject to write about.
The name of the song that struck me hard was displayed as “Chogada” and, silent though it was, it had unmistakably Gujarati garba steps and people gyrating to it were wearing clothes that you never see anyone adorning except Gujaratis caricaturised in a Bollywood movie.
Regardless of the absurdly stereotyped portrayal of every culture that a Bollywood movie must make, as a die-hard and proud Gujarati, I always feel great to see a Gujarati reference on screen, but this one had me foxed, because my Gujarati vocabulary contains no word like “Chogada”.
Intrigued and a bit annoyed, as I am proud of knowing my mother-tongue rather well, I have just looked up the word/song and found something that has made me think.
Chogada, a song raging across internet and anticipated to be the new anthem this Navaratri is actually a famous Gujarati garbo dedicated to Krishna, referred to fondly as Chh-o-ga-ḷa in the original folk song.
As it is sung by a Gujarati singer, it (thankfully) uses “Chh” and “ḷa” instead of “Ch” and “da”, but everywhere I have checked, the song is called Chogada by its maker and the media.
Bollywood has no real dearth of Gujaratis, and this movie is actually about Gujaratis, but as no one has really bothered to correct this glaring error, I am forced to look at this as a symbol of apathy typical to Gujarati culture with a bit of serious concern.
Though there is a very thin line between rabidity and pride, there is no doubt that all great cultures relate intensely and emotionally with their language. You can’t expect a French or a Bengali or a Marathi to look at a linguistic violation kindly. Such a cultural pride is common everywhere except Gujarat.
Not being touchy about the culture may have served Gujarat well, because as a trader, it is wiser to have less of an ego and more of tolerance. As a culture with a motto of Profit-First, it is natural for Gujarat to be more focused on monetary gain than cultural pride. But, as there is a gain, there is also a loss. And what we need to realise is what we may have lost by being careless to our own culture.
Having one’s own people and nation is actually the greatest natural amplifier of human ability. Human beings are designed thus that for a greater collective cause, even an average person can rise to a level far beyond his individual abilities.
If one sportsman is playing for personal gain and other for a nation, excellence is more likely to be achieved by the latter because cultural pride connects a person to something far larger than his individual self. So, when culture is lost, those belonging to it are reduced to shallow individuals in pursuit of personal gain.
Gujarat, Gujarati and our cultural identity is priceless. Gujjubhai may be fine being Chel Chogado instead of Chhel Chhogaḷo as long as he makes money, but he needs to realise that monetary gain can never compensate for cultural loss.