Similarities In ‘Way Of Life’ In SAARC Nations

South Asia has been invaded and settled in by many ethnic groups over the centuries including various Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups. The amalgamation of Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and local tribal cultures over the centuries created common culture, traditions and beliefs. The Vedic Sanskrit language and Vedic religion combined Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and local tribal beliefs to give rise to the Dharmic religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

As a consequence, they share many similar cultural practices, festivals and traditions. Throughout time, the traditions of different ethnic groups in South Asia have diverged, sometimes giving rise to strong local traditions, such as South Indian culture, or at other times, influenced by external cultures, especially in the northwestern parts of South Asia, and in Bangladesh, where Turks and Pathans have had much influence and brought the religion of Islam to the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Baloch, Kashmiri and Bengali peoples.

Despite their religious differences, the way of life is still similar in all the South Asian countries, because of shared history and it markedly differs from the Middle East. Foods such as chapatis or naan are common in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. South Indian foods (from the states Kerala and Tamil Nadu) can be found in Sri Lanka. Bangladeshi ways of life are similar to the people in West Bengal, the Eastern Indian State.

As two nations united by history but divided by destiny, India and Pakistan are almost like two estranged siblings. Their rivalries over six decades have prevented both countries from realizing their full economic and geopolitical potential.

The two countries have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed region of Kashmir. Young governments but with old wounds have led to the clarity in the desire to peaceful resolution to the issues that divide them. Whether India and Pakistan can capitalize on that desire for peace, or whether the long hostilities will destroy any such initiative remains to be seen.