Russia | Understanding opennes of its culture

The derivation of name ‘Russia’ is often argued upon. While some say “Rus” is derived from the name of a tribe , others say it is derived from an ancient name for the Volga River.

Relations and Marriage

Romantic love is considered the only acceptable motivation for marriage, and there is a long tradition in literature, poetry, and song of idealizing lovers’ passion. Contemporary practices highlight more pragmatic and cynical aspects of marital relationships, such as improving one’s economic status or housing prospects.

Traditionally it was mainly an economic contract between the heads of two households, reinforced by the payment of the wedding costs by the groom’s household and the provision of a substantial dowry by the mother of the bride.

In the past, both patrilocal and matrilocal marriage were practiced but today the former is preferred and more frequent. In matrilocal marriages, parents without sons adopted a son-in-law under a contract that stipulated that he support them for the remainder of their lives and give them a decent burial.

Although marriages today are individual commitments, they are often associated with obligations to older female relatives. In Kemerovo, for example, families can gain prized housing rights by means of a co-resident grandmother, real or adopted, who is thus protected and in turn helps with child care and household tasks.

In today’s generations, people frequently meet partners at school, university, or at work, although discotheques and clubs in the cities have become popular meeting places. Premarital sex and single parenthood have always been common but marriage continues to be a major socio-religious act. Since premarital sex is generally accepted, and marriages arising from unplanned pregnancies are not uncommon.

Since the 1930s, 23 years has been the average age of marriage. 97 percent of adults marry by age forty, and most before age thirty. Approximately one-half of all marriages end in divorce wherein economic hardship and alcohol abuse are the contributing factors.

Ethnic intermarriage is fairly common in Soviet, and most people have at least one ancestor of a different nationality.

Wedding Ceremonies

  • Paying the ransom: When groom arrives at the bride’s home, he must pay a ransom for the bride
  • Traditional ceremony: takes place in a church and is divided into two parts: the Betrothal and the Crowning. The service traditionally takes place in the morning, after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, during which the wedding rings were blessed by being placed on the Holy Table.
  • Civil ceremony: takes place at the department of public services known as ZAGS where the couple is greeted by family members with bread and salt
  • Tour of the city: newlyweds and their witnesses travel around the city in a limousine
  • Reception:
    • The first toast is made to the newlyweds and after the first shot, the guests begin to shout Gorko, Gorko, Gorko,…. Gorko means “bitter”
    • At this point the couple must kiss for a long time to take out the bitter taste of the vodka
    • The second toast is made to the parents
    • The new couple dances the first dance of the night
    • The guests dance, sing, play games and make toasts

Family

An extended family living with the husband’s family characterized peasant life in the past. Today, the size and structure of the household unit is more flexible, although patriarchal control over the labor and behavior of the household is usual across social classes.

Nuclear family has become the most important domestic unit and most married couples want an apartment of their own, away from their parents. But housing shortage and high cost of new housing have made this a challenge, and families are often forced to live in apartments holding three generations.

Many couples with children live with a widowed parent of one spouse who provides child care and food preparation. A grandparent’s monthly pension may contribute significantly to the family budget.

Inheritance

Before the revolution, property was divided among all the living sons but for most families today all children have the legal title to their parents’ or grandparents’ property. This requires officially registering of the children as residents of those places before the death of the title holder. Otherwise, the title can revert to the government.

Kin Groups

Kinship is reckoned bilaterally, although usually stressed the paternal. Until the mid-19th century, kin terms for over sixty specific relations were in common use because even across distances, close relations are maintained. But lack of geographic mobility, support in hard times, and regular visits has caused this to cease.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Russian kinship terminology was defined by the exogamic units set by churchly canon: four “links” for consanguinai kin, two for affinal; only the archaic term dyadina (father’s brother’s wife, mother’s brother’s wife) extended further.

No distinction is made among consanguinal kin between male and female lines of descent; cousin terms derive from sibling terms; gender suffixes distinguish the sexes among the consanguinai kin of ascending generations and among affinal kin (except daughter’s husband and son’s wife); and the terms for daughter’s husband and sister’s husband are merged.

To this day on the collective farms, and to a lesser extent in the cities, various joint household budgets persist. Christenings, reverence of icons, and parental blessings of various kinds strengthen human relations.

 

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Listen..

Author's Note:
Social exchange theory posits that human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives. Humans uses the concepts of individualism to explain exchange processes.

Listen to each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
Shattering silence yet subdued
Narrating some stories of pain

Of a mother walking barefoot
Happy that she stole something to cook
To feed her young ones tonight
Wondering if the good days will stay put

Of a father coming out of brothel
Not caring if he smells awful
Since the leak of his affair ceased to shake his wife
Even the kids knowing about it wouldn’t cause an apostle

Of a young brat wiping his mouth after a kitchen detour
Started with one scoop ended with four more
Revenge of telling mom about school bunk
Sister’s favorite ice cream settles the score

Listen to the each drop of rain
Whispering secrets in vain
If ever anyone lends its ear to listen
They’ll know every secret is an immortal tale

Ever Seen?

Author's Note: 
Most people have an implicit theory about how relationships work. Some people are more aware of or at least talk more about their viewpoint on relationships than others. Regardless of an individual's awareness or one's own theory of relationships, most people tend to treat their view of relationships as reality. Because of this egocentric view of reality, how one views Self and Others in relational contexts is of fundamental importance.

Ever seen horizon
Before the sun rise?
The dew on the lilies
Before a butterfly hops by?
The stir in dry leaves
Before wind lifts them high?
The screams of parched soil
Before rainy clouds cover the sky?
The sleep of a new mother
Before the infant begins to cry!
The cries of hungry demons
Before sleep hits the eyes?
It’s called wait..
Which I hide through my sighs..

What Next?

Author's Note: 
Functionalism theory examines how the institution of family contributes to the stability of society, whereas conflict theory examines how the family reflects the inequalities and problems in society. Interactionism is different from both as it examines the internal workings of the family, while they are concerned with the family’s interaction with society.  Asking questions is an important way to resolve conflict, understand problems and resolve concerns.

Day dream delusions
Seeking conclusions
When life throws answers
We seek the questions
And I stand I ask…what now?

Should I wake up from dreams
Throw tantrums at those conclusions
Accept the simple answers
Or hunt the deeper questions
And I keep wondering..what now?

Dreams start to fade
Conclusions seem vague
Answers waver their standing
While questions are pounding
And my mind asks my heart..what now?

Listen to a soulful song
Weave those dreams again
Don’t hurry into conclusions
Look at the big game plan
Everything can’t be answered
Some questions are open ended
When the questions seem overwhelming
Imagine the power of their answer yet unfounded..

And the mind stops questioning..what now?

China: Understanding society and culture

Author's Note: This is to understand the essential pillars of Chinese culure, their relations- how they marry, how they get out of marriage and why?

The early sages in China believed that the family was the basic element of society since a family is bonded through blood. The relationship between father and son is the core of the relationship and is extended further to encompass relationships between husband and wife, monarch and the subject, senior and junior and between friends.

These are called the Five Cardinal Relationships, and they include most of the relationships between people in a Chinese society even today.

Benevolence is considered the highest standard of social ethics and the nation’s moral benchmark when its welfare is at stake. The notion of righteousness is often regarded as the core value and the supreme standard of ethics.

Some say benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, intelligence and faith are the five fundamental moral principles and righteousness the core value of the Chinese society.

Defining Kin

In Chinese culture, “nine grades of relations” is an important concept when it comes to application of laws and observing rituals. Since the Han Dynasty, there have been two separate interpretations of what is defined by the nine grades. Each interpretation is based on societal and political needs as the ruler of the day see fit.

The older interpretationdefined the nine grades of relations strictly in the paternal line. That is, nine generations from great-great-grandfather down to great-great-grandchildren. This interpretation was officially recognised after Tang and Song dynasties. While, the contemporary interpretation defines these nine grades of relations to be four generations from the paternal line, three from the maternal line, and two from the wife’s.

Institution of Marriage

There are essentially six rituals in a Chinese wedding, despite China’s long history and many different geographical areas, which are as follows:

  1. Proposal: When an unmarried boy’s parents find a potential daughter-in-law. Then they locate a matchmaker who discusses marriage on the part of two families yet unknown to each other.
  2. Birthdates: If the selected girl and her parents accept the proposal, the matchmaker would match the birthdates which is used to predict the future of that couple-to-be. If the result of is good, they then would go to the next step.
  3. Bride price : At this point the bridegroom’s family arranges for the matchmaker to present a bride price to the bride’s family.
  4. Wedding gifts: The groom’s family would then send an elaborate array of food, cakes, and religious items to the bride’s family.
  5. Arranging the wedding: Before wedding ceremony, two families would arrange an auspicious day for wedding.
  6. Wedding Ceremony: The final ritual would be the actual wedding ceremony where bride and groom become a married couple, which consists of many elaborate parts:
    1. Wedding Procession: from the bride’s home to the groom’s home
    2. Welcoming the Bride: the bride’s family stops at the door of the groom’s home followed by ceremonies to welcome the bride
    3. Actual Wedding Ceremonies: the couple would pay respect to the Jade Emperor, the patron family deities (or patron buddhas and bodhisattvas), paying respect to deceased ancestors, the bride and groom’s parents and other elders, and paying respect to each other

In traditional Chinese society, there are three major ways to dissolve a marriage.

  1. no-fault divorce:  due to personal incompatibility, provided that the husband writes a divorce note.
  2. state-mandated annulment: when one spouse commits a serious crime against the other or his/her clan.
  3. husband may unilaterally declare a divorce: based on one of the following seven reasons
    1. The wife lacks filial piety towards her parents-in-law
    2. She fails to bear a son
    3. She is vulgar or lewd/adulterous
    4. She is jealous
    5. She has a vile disease
    6. She is gossipy
    7. She commits theft

Egypt: Now and Then | Before and After of Arab Invasion

The culture of Egypt has thousands of years of recorded history as ancient Egypt is among the earliest civilizations on this planet. Since then, Egypt has maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Egyptians, from Greek is derived from Late Egyptian Hikuptah “Memphis”, a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hat-ka-Ptah (ḥwt-k3-ptḥ), meaning “home of the ka (soul) of Ptah”, the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis. Arabic was adopted by the Egyptians after the Arab invasion of Egypt.

Many Egyptians today feel that Egyptian and Arab identities are inextricably linked while others believe that Egypt and Egyptians are simply not Arab, emphasizing indigenous Egyptian heritage, culture and independent polity, pointing to the perceived failures of Arab and pan-Arab nationalist policies. Egyptian critics of Arab nationalism contend that it has worked to erode and/or relegate native Egyptian identity by superimposing only one aspect of Egypt’s culture.

Egyptians carry names that have Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, English and French origins, among others. The concept of a surname is lacking in Egypt. Rather, Egyptians tend to carry their father’s name as their first middle name, and stop at the 2nd or 3rd first name, which thus becomes one’s surname.

Honour is an important facet of interpersonal relationships. Respect and esteem for people is both a right and an obligation. An individual’s honour is intricately entwined with the reputation and honour of everyone in their family. Honour requires that Egyptians demonstrate hospitality to friends and guests. A man’s word is considered his bond and to go back on your word is to bring dishonour to your family.

Family Values

  1. The family is the most significant unit of Egyptian society.
  2. Kinship plays an important role in all social relations.
  3. The individual is always subordinate to the family, tribe or group.
  4. Nepotism is viewed positively, since it is patronage of one’s family.
  5. The family consists of both the nuclear and the extended family.

Relationships

Egyptians prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore expect to spend time cultivating a personal relationship before business is conducted. Who they know is more important than what they know, so it is important to network and cultivate a number of contracts. Egyptians believe direct eye contact is a sign of honesty and sincerity, so be prepared for disconcertingly intense stares.
Egyptians are emotive and use hand gestures when they are excited. In general, they speak softly, although they may also shout or pound the table. This is not indicative of anger; it is merely an attempt to demonstrate a point. One should demonstrate deference to the most senior person in the group, who will also be their spokesperson.

Marriage and the Family

The Egyptians appear to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind. Women attend markets and are employed in trade, while men stay at home and do the weaving! Men in Egypt carry loads on their head, women on their shoulder. Women pass water standing up, men sitting down. To ease themselves, they go indoors, but eat outside on the streets, on the theory that what is unseemly, but necessary, should be done in private, and what is not unseemly should be done openly.

The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one’s family, and lineage was traced through both the mother’s and father’s lines. Respect for one’s parents was a cornerstone of morality, and the most fundamental duty of the eldest son (or occasionally daughter) was to care for his parents in their last days and to ensure that they received a proper burial.

Kinship

Countless genealogical lists indicate how important family ties were, yet Egyptian kinship terms lacked specific words to identify blood relatives beyond the nuclear family.

For example, the word used to designate “mother” was also used for “grandmother,” and the word for “father” was the same as “grandfather”. Likewise, the terms for “son,” “grandson,” and “nephew” are identical. “Uncle” and “brother” (or “sister” and “aunt”) are also designated by the same word. To make matters even more confusing for modern scholars, the term “sister” was often used for “wife”.

Do we require Newtonian god if jump across time is accepted?

Human mind is never stable. It is always thinking, no matter what.

And when we daydream, this thinking is usually about future or past, never the present. Everyday, we question ourselves with the numerous phenomena in our daily routine life. In real life, we cannot weave thoughts about small small things that affect us or we notice. But this temporal time travel that our mind takes us to, provides us with this opportunity whenever we want, wherever we want.

Time seems continuous, stable and boundless. However, we take this time flow for granted.
“How could absolute time ‘flow,’ as Newton said, without relation to any moving thing or any motion
whatsoever?”

But, according to the theory of Newtonian god, time is not boundless as we think. He creates time like he has created us all, being timeless himself. This is in compliance with all the religions around the world, that have the notion that the God himself never began to exist in time, and also will never go out of existence. He is temporal and everlasting.

He is ageless, present in very moment of time, and contrastingly, timeless i.e. remains out of time.
Newton had his own remarkable religious view. In his time not only was he popular among the public,
but was a part of the secret society. He generally had a disbelief in god, and always questioned his presence. But, he also demonstrated him as the supreme creator of all existence and time as an organ of God which relates his concept of God with jump across time.

Also jump across time is like intution- thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning. Anticipating something as true and about to come in real is jump across time. According to newton, “Sensorium of creature is caged in body but not that of God. God is not the soul of the world; neither is world a body of God; nor does God resemble human mind.
The term God is principally a name of power and empire.”

He also quoted that inspite of explaining the movement of planets through gravitation, he cant explain who sets them in motion!
It is god who governs all these things and knows how it can be done.
This being (god) governs all things not as a soul of the world but as the creator of everything.
Sensorium of God and Sensorium of Creatures utterly different . The first senses things as such
(Absolute) and the latter one senses images of things (Relative).

So, believing that “mind thinks of past, future & sees the present” is trans – temporal jump (jump across time) is a RELATIVE idea. But, for God every moment is ABSOLUTE time.
Hence, existence of Newtonian god is not challenged by the idea of “jump across time”.
Although there have been cases in which people have had dreams or snaps of their previous lives, but
nothing has been proven yet.