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5th September 1999

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Keeping traditions alive

By Ruhanie Perera and Laila Nasry

Like it or not, somehow over the years traditions have inevitably become a part of our lives. There are some valued traditions which we cherish and following them gives us a sense of security and is a way Imageof keeping the memories of the days gone by alive. Equally, there are some traditions which we feel are silly, archaic practices forced on us and these we can't wait to shake off.

Is the easy acceptance of what is customary in a way a limitation of our independence? Or does acceptance build character and give us the wings to fly? This is what the teenagers have to say:

Rizly Razik, (16):

In my opinion, respecting our elders is an important tradition and one that should be cultivated from a very young age. It should be part of one's life. Traditions are basically good things we have got from our elders. Following traditions will help us become successful in life for we too can cultivate these good habits and people will respect us for it.

However, there are some traditions that are not in keeping with the approaching 21st century. Harmless stuff like guys talking to girls should cease to shock the elders and comparisons should not Imagebe made to the bygone days when this was not the case.

Shavaun Arnolda, (17):

Most people follow traditions because they really need something to hang on to. To them traditions have a meaning, which I really don't understand. Personally I can live without them. I don't believe in traditions because I feel that they are highly superstitious and in most cases not logical. Accepted practices like the virginity test, which is considered, as a 'tradition' are highly illogical. Then there is simply no logic behind the practice of reading horoscopes. According to my horoscope, I'm supposed to be a sickly creature who will marry a gorgeous guy. So far there is no gorgeous guy in sight and I'm far from what one would call a sickly creature. Though some have utmost faith in such traditions, they don't make sense to me. Of course, there are some traditions (like traditions within the family) you have to accept, whether you like them or not. There is also the fact that in our society, if you do flout traditions you are branded as 'the girl who doesn't know how to behave properly'.

Damith Fernando,(17):

I think we need traditions. For instance, at Royal College we say "ayubowan" to all the teachers we meet at school irrespective of whether they are our immediate teachers or not. As a Royalist I am really proud of this custom. Personally there are a few traditions I follow. Every morning I worship Lord Buddha. This makes me feel really good and keeps me going through out the day. Whenever I have exams or any other important event I worship my parents and get their blessings before I leave home. I like traditions_ it is my way of showing my individuality. Essential traditions like respecting elders and keeping close family ties are good. These also set us apart us from the west. But traditions based on old superstitions can be done away with. Traditions are important and should be followed at all times for it helps mould a person and thereby society.

Sharini Dias Bandaranayake, (18):

To me, a tradition is a practice that various groups of people have been following for years and continue to keep. Most often people get traditions mixed up with customs (like breaking a coconut at a wedding). In our society the man in the house always making the final decision regarding any issue is an accepted tradition. That is just fine. The problem begins when, if the woman makes a decision the man feels threatened and society looks down on him as a henpecked man. This is the point at which a tradition becomes a hindrance in the changing world.

I'm not a radical and I personally don't really care much about which traditions we should hang on to and which we should let go. In my opinion, a tradition can enrich a person and build personality but at Imagethe same time it can restrict and kill personality. You just have to learn to let go of trivialities and move on.

Mario de Soysa, (18):

I think of New Year, Christmas and family when I think of traditions. When you follow a tradition you don't go ahead with it consciously because it is a tradition, but because you feel that it is right.

There are other traditions, which just don't make sense, but we can't exactly proclaim that those aren't traditions anymore. It's really up to the individual - you do what you believe in.

Sanjana Selverajah, (17):

Some traditions I believe in, some I don't, because they are impractical and some I practise irrespective of whether I believe in them or not. Traditions are essentially good because they teach us about our culture. But then there is the fact that you have to go along with a tradition whether you believe in it or not. Then again you can't always do only what you want.

One thing I feel really strongly about is the tradition of going for Sunday mass. Now you have to go for mass on Sunday but I feel that this is something that is increasingly becoming a farce. Some people dress up, go to church, check out what people are wearing and come back home. I think it would make more sense to stay at home and really pray. But you can't exactly do that because you have to go to church on Sunday. I feel that it is up to the individual to decide what he believes in and what he doesn't - without having to worry about what the rest of the world thinks.

Oshan Wijeyagoonawardane, (18):

As a Buddhist I am exposed to a lot of traditions. During the New Year we follow all the traditions at home starting with the boiling of the pot of milk which symbolises prosperity. On that day I go to my grandmother's house and worship her and get her blessings. Every morning I worship my mother and father before I go to school. Traditions are good and the very basics at least should be followed because it makes man more disciplined. Our country too is a traditional one and there is no way that we can exist without them.

Habeeba Sheriff, (18):

I feel traditions are what hold a community together. We speak, dress, talk, and act according to the traditions we believe in. Some people think that we shouldn't hang on to traditions, that we move with the times. But I feel that if you don't have anything to hang on to, you have nothing.

A person does not automatically become 'uncool' because you follow a particular tradition. I pray with my family in the morning and I feel that this is a really important tradition for anyone, because it brings a family together. Traditions like that build a better life and make you... "you".

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