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Roleplay of Nature and Culture in Tourism

Neha Karra is an author 02 books (The Amazing Quadruped and Lockdown Blues an anthology .

Tourism as an industry

Tourism in India is a labor intensive industry generates about 9.2% of the Gross Domestic Product and 08% percent of the total employment. It contributes through a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products like cruise liners culture, nature and most importantly MICE. We as responsible, educated citizens of the country also play a vital role in boosting the GDP by spending a part of our income, most importantly through tourism

Derivation of the term "Tourism".

Tourism derives itself from the Latin word tornos which means a complete circle. What could this complete circle be? Is it a representation of human life which always rotating and often subject to change or is it a figurative representation of man’s desires which have no end points?

This circle represents the philosophy behind tourism, it is a representation of man’s inner instincts continuously pushing him to explore and socialize. It conveys that man begins his journey from a certain point, revolves around a certain point and then returns back to the same point in order to begin all over again.

Like any other industry tourism also has its own subsets. Before discussing tourism and its derivatives let us take a look 45 billion years ago when life came into existence.

Culture and Nature in Tourism

As per the Vedic scriptures it was Lord Shiva and his female counterpart Goddess Shakti who gave birth to elements, planets and all other living beings. The male god over here is a metaphorical representation of the untamed, wild and liberal nature, while the goddess represents the law binding culture. Culture is the result of human interaction, nature is withdrawal. While culture differentiates people across states, regions and countries, while nature is indifferent to human gaze.

With culture comes diversity and with nature comes homogeneity. The diversity of culture and the homogeneity of nature is what attracts individuals. This force of attraction cuts across boundaries, regions and even countries.

Cultural tourism calls for exploring the world lying outside whereas the prime objective of natural tourism is introspection.

Cultural Tourism

We have all heard and studied about Pavlov’s theory of conditioning. Just like the dog in the experiment humans being also lead a conditioned life. People in the eastern part of India like to have a one green chili, a pinch of salt and a slice of lemon with their meals while for people in the northern region ghee is the basic accompaniment.

The staple diet for the people in the southern region is rice while for people in the northern region it is mostly Indian breads. The medium of cooking in Rajasthan is mustard oil while the medium of cooking in Kerala is coconut oil.

This kind of a conditioning has been happening since years down the lane and that’s why is now deep rooted into our systems.

Culture consists of several elements the major being (Fooding, clothing, means of livelihood, entertainment). Culture is the way in which the human mind is conditioned to act , respond and think, like wearing a certain clothing, eating a certain kind of a diet, communicating in a certain language etc.

Culture is not a constant, it is a variable and this kind of a variance is visible as one travels every 1000kms. Yet this variance has a lot of factors in similar which establish a common base at a national level.

For example the harvest festival of Raja in the state of Odisha falls in the month of June in the second week which is a celebration of the freshly harvested field produce followed by preparations of sweet dishes, decorating of houses and celebration. Raja has a lot in common with the harvest festival of Telangana Sankranti which is also a celebration of the freshly harvested crop followed by offerings to god (Sun, wind and rain), cock fights and preparation of sweetmeats. Though the intrinsic activities of the festivals vary as per the regions the basic motive remains the same, celebration of the freshly harvested crop and expressing gratitude towards the natural forces.

Culture thus diversifies people at a regional level but unites them at a national level. This unifying and diversifying characteristic of culture is what calls for exploration.

A human being travels from one place to another in order to expand the horizon of his mind. Cultural tourism thus helps in preserving the originality of a region simultaneously contributing towards the GDP. Culture is tangible in the form of handicrafts, monuments, scriptures, hand crafted work and intangible in the form of dance and music and folklore.

Culture thus helps in identifying a region, differentiating a particular region from the others.

Natural Tourism

There was once a monk and a scorpion. Every time the scorpion was drowning the monk offered to save him and was eventually stung by the scorpion; however the monk continued to save the pest and the pest continued to sting him. This short story over here is a reference to the inherent dominant trait of both the monk and the scorpion.

A fish even when pulled out a water body would gasp helplessly to return back to the water body instead of adapting to the environment around. The fish over here refuses to adapt to the situation the reason being its bodily mechanisms specifically designed to breathe inside shallow water bodies. This unalterable behavior is what defines the nature of the fish.

Nature thus refers to the dominant intrinsic trait of an element or a living being which is incapable of change as per the changing circumstances around. The nature of the river is to flow; it would continue to flow, irrespective of an uneven rocky road on its path or a domesticated agricultural land.

A wild animal would not differentiate in its prey. It would hunt down the weaker opponent for food whether it’s a weaker human being or a weaker animal.

Nature thus remains constant and neutral to all its offspring’s. Alteration in nature has always resulted in deadly consequences like water table depletion, soil erosion, and most importantly increase in the level of green house gases gradually giving way to global warming.

The natural component of a particular place constitutes of its flora fauna and its elements. Nature unlike culture does not discriminate on the basis of food, clothing, and lifestyle. . There is just one law which says “Might is right” and this particular law forms the basis of the food chain and keeps it running.

This homogeneity of nature is what attracts people from across countries, states and even continents. Natural tourism does not just refer to the movement of an individual from the city to the forest for the purpose of relaxation but also refers interaction with the ecosystem, the wildlife; and also explores the possibility of adventure based sports (hiking, bird watching, stargazing, fishing etc.)

The continent of Africa being a home to the Amazon rainforest which is also labeled as “lungs of the earth” is presently the leading player of natural tourism followed by Australia, Germany, France and Poland. The economy of Africa majorly depends on tourism which generates $192.4 billion dollars out of which 71% of the contribution comes through leisure driven tourists.

Statistics and Figures

While nature in its unbiased form provides people a plethora of activities to unwind and rejenuvated. Culture through its diversity manages to arrest tourist’s attention towards its inheritance.

  1. As per the survey conducted there is lack of cultural education in the education system. The knowledge provided to children in schools is very superficial there is a need for in depth study and understanding why certain monuments were built at certain places with a certain dimension.

For Example- Children from the age group of 11- 18 are aware about the reason behind the erection of the Charminar in the city of Hyderabad. But have not realized the scientific explanation behind the same. The basic building material of Charminar consists of Limestone, marble, mortar etc. The Charminar was built when there was a breakout of cholera when Quli qutub shah had shifted his capital from Golkonda to Hyderabad. He was advised by a Muslim saint to build a four minaret tower in the centre of the city in order to ward off evil the chief building element being limestone, because limestone reacts with the air easily and prevents the outgrowth of Cholera centric viruses in particular. Because of which the city of Hyderabad has recorded no deaths of Cholera since Quli Qutub Shah’s time.

  1. Majority of the population prefers to travel to a culture centric place for a period ranging from 02- 07 days maximum for a period of 10 days. The major magnetic factor which attracts people behind visiting a certain place is the local cuisine and the science behind its preparation. Our ancestors were very well aware about the need of a balanced diet which includes requirement of carbohydrates, proteins, fats , minerals , vitamins in the required quantities. That’s how the concept of Biryani was born which includes carbohydrates in the form of starch, protein in the form of meat, Vegetables and nuts in the form of vitamins and minerals. Thus many lost recipes and local made foods manage to strike the same balance as a Biryani does.
  2. When people are in the city they are caught up in the daily web of life for which the span of breath is shorter. Whereas when the person travels to a nature centric devoid of any commitments and deadlines to meet he or she is at peace and breaths deep.Hence for which natural has off late evolved as a form of healing oneself.
  3. Natural Tourism also sees a wide range of outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, making your own medicine, bird watching, fishing and star gazing and also pottery which is known for inculcating patience and exploring one’s physical agility. Natural Tourism also sees a wide range of outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, making your own medicine, bird watching, fishing and star gazing and also pottery which is known for inculcating patience and exploring one’s physical agility.

Conclusion

Cultural tourism thus encourages man to look, observe and imbibe all that has been passed down the generations since a long time while natural tourism encourages an individual to look within oneself and understand one’s prime objective in life.

As discussed earlier nature and culture the fusion of both gives birth to individual identity. While culture refers to conditioning and domesticating and individual to lead and behave in a certain way. Nature is devoid of all biases. As per the hindu scriptures 11 is a sacred number eleven when split individually is 1+1=2. This again is evidence to the concept of duality. It is rightly said no man is an island . It takes a woman to domesticate the island. The woman over here is the symbolic representation of Culture whose primary focus is domestication of certain individuals to lead a socially acceptable life for the betterment of all individuals on a whole. Culture is again is incomplete without nature, while culture encourages people to discover and explore the world outside. Nature encourages people to look within oneself and walk towards his or her own improvement. Because only when somebody has experienced a certain thing he or she will be able to present it to the others. Culture and nature thus share a symbiotic relationship where one is incomplete without the other. Culture and nature thus form the building blocks of mankind’s existence.

An equal balance of nature and culture is what gives to birth to individuality and an equal thrive for natural and cultural tourism is what keeps the tourism industry running.