Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The invisible cultural divide that existed in Bangalore

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This great cultural divide of Bangalore existed once. Thankfully growth of IT sector has meant that no longer this divide is sustainable. Bangalore till late 90s was divided into two cultural zones viz Bangalore South and Bangalore Cantonment. People who have been living in Bangalore for long will remember and relish this artificial barrier which existed in Bangalore for several decades

Bangalore South consisted mostly of the local population and the Cantonment area had a sprinkling of people from various regions, religions and languages. Bangalore South was famous for its conventional way of life whereas the Cantonment was more westernized due to the presence of a substantial number of Anglo-Indians present there.

One particular area in Bangalore South West was famous for streets full of people belonging to the same sub-sect. People would be ready to let their houses for a lower rent to a person belonging to their same sub-sect. The influence of Britishers on Bangalore Cantonment is pronounced. When you come to Bangalore Cantonment, you can find a large number of Churches and Christian institutions. Hardly there would be anybody in Bangalore Cantonment who has not been associated with a Christian institution either as a student or patient. Even the most conventional Hindu families have a picture of Mother Mary/ Infant Jesus in their pooja rooms. A unique future of Bangalore Cantonment is that in an undivided family, you could find members practicing three different religions and yet living cordially. Hindus coming from Bangalore Cantonment were looked down upon by their South counterparts as “The soiled Hindus”. You could never maintain homogeneity of culture, diet and language if you stayed in Bangalore Cantonment for a length of time.

I still remember for a person to go to work in Bangalore South from Cantonment and vice-versa was a major issue. Shifting houses from one region of Bangalore to other was considered to near blasphemy. Bangalore South is famous for its splendorous temples, ashrams, Hindu colleges, superb vegetarian restaurants, good bus connectivity, etc.

With passage of time and increased commercialization, this barrier has slowly fallen. You have a lot of people coming from other states/countries. Moreover, apartment culture has taken the place of Independent houses and the homogeneity of many a conventional area has been lost. As they always say “Change is always for the good”.

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