Pakistani culture is a rich mix of heritage of ancient civilizations, foreign influences on language, cuisine, music, literature, art, architecture and customs, and different religions. To an outsider this could very well mean the presence of fault lines that have the potential of creating differences and divisions, and a confusion over identity, however, nothing can be further from the truth. It is the very richness of languages, customs and traditions that makes for a unique Pakistani identity — an identity based on commonalities and one that celebrates differences. Culture influences our beliefs about right and wrong, our likes and dislikes, beliefs about true and false and our behaviours. These cultural influences in turn form our identity. Therefore, a mix of many different cultural strains only adds to our identity.
Culture is an on-going process of learned and patterned beliefs, values, attitudes and practices that provide people with the basis of how to live and interact with others. This connotes that it cannot be unchanging and stable rather it is dynamic. If culture is learned, it accounts for the importance of socializing institutions like family, school, peers and media. Culture being patterned may mean that there are similarities but that there might also be deviation and resistance to these patterns that account for it being dynamic. The content of this issue has been designed to shed light on these two broad perspectives of culture and their implications on identity formation by exploring different vistas of Pakistani culture and how its inherent diversity shapes and enriches our identity. Aqsa Seth, having travelled the length and breadth of the country, shares her experience of encountering different regional cultures but only one Pakistani identity.
To extrapolate the notion that culture influences our behaviours and practices Hira Zainab analyzes how regional folktales entwine the mix of cultures and physical environment to represent and challenge societal attitudes and customs. Identity is defined, among other things, by the culture that we are a part of from the beginning. Marium Farhan examines how the early childhood environment plays a role in the formation of children's identity development. There is an argument about the need for incorporation of folklore in interactions with children for enhanced learning and bonding experience along with grounding their identity that they have to live with for the rest of their lives. And while this is one way of ensuring our children know where they come from, museums are another very important source of education in this context. For this reason, Izzah Khan elaborates on the significance of museums in passing on our history and educating about the roots of our cultural identity.
Through our content we have tried to highlight some of the facets of our culture and its diversity along with the commonalities, underscoring the fact that this diversity only brings colours and flavours that unite us as a nation. We might all speak different languages at home, wear different dresses, celebrate marriages with unique customs, entertain ourselves with different folktales and music, but at the end of the day, we are all Pakistanis who, because of this diversity, believe in inclusivity, tolerance and harmony. We hope that you have a pleasant reading experience. HH
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