As we all seek spiritual elevation, it seems many are taking advantage of these desires in the form of cultural vulturism & capitalism. It seems more & more Hindus are coming out to express their views on the popularization of their religious ritual of yoga that has now become an American pastime consisting of just saying “namaste” & attaining a tight ass with little to no spiritual elevation. I couldn’t help but to laugh when a friend put American “yogis” on blast by calling some of them out on the anti-immigrant. anti-religious & anti-anything different from themselves while being so called die hard “yogis” who walk around thinking being spiritual is just about greeting people with “namaste” = I worship the divine within you. How many so called “yogis” in America say “namaste” & truly mean & practice the worship of the divinity within those whom the greet?
I have never been to a yoga class because I have always found the pop culture of it to be something very out of wack & calibration with its pure teachings & karma because many that indulge in it are just as ugly inside as anyone one else I know, but then again this crosses all religions & practices. As reggae artist VC says in his song By His Deeds says ” sitting in your church on Sunday, thinking who you are going to screw Monday, who you gonna theif , who you gonna rob…taking it that me tell you, say, you can”t fool God, No” . I have always respected the fact that there is a difference between stretching exercises & spiritual elevation through the practice of religious rituals. I am also well aware thanks to the film “Good Hair” that much of the hair for wigs, weaves, extensions etc. also derive from Hindu religious hair offering rituals that somehow find their way to the multi-billion dollar hair industry. As someone who has worn wigs, weaves etc. am I a hypocrite for not necessarily agreeing with the capitalization of yoga? It maybe one in the same to many, but I really don’t see how one relates to the other because no one getting extensions, weaves, wigs, braids etc. are adopting Hindu hair offering rituals nor pretending to be part of, adopting or advocating any part of Hindu religious rituals anymore than you buying something from the salvation army that may have been donated from someone who may have been religious or even a criminal means that you are condoning or advocating their rituals or behavior. The fault in the case of Hindu hair offerings ending up in the capitalist market of the hair industry lies with those who are connected to the ceremony whether as 1st, 2nd or 3rd party selling the hair of those who offer it up for free as a religious ritual knowing that they are selling it to be part of the the capitalistic market. This is the point where Hindu culture has a responsibility in educating, being accountable & protecting its religious culture instead of just complaining about it faltering to a capitalist culture that cuts the practitioners out of the profit & history of the culture.
I am glad that we are finally publicly seeing the inventors/investors side of the yoga ritual being addressed. Culture vulturism without respect & homage to the root of the culture by which one is popularizing is extremely disrespectful to the people who created & maintained their sacred culture beyond enjoyment as a fad or popular culture. Many yoga classes/instructors take advantage of the benefit of religious tax exemption while running their for profit exercise classes that have little to nothing to do with religious ritual. Americans are notorious for this type of seeking of cultures of the world & bastardizing them for capitalistic needs & exploits. There are so many Americans who have now become gurus charging hundreds to thousands of dollars for yoga retreats, which is the antithesis of what the religious ritual is about.
“The yoga community is now merrily two-stepping the American way, with corporate logos,” observed the NYT blog. It then went on to ask if this was even a bad thing. Given the culture that yoga has landed in, it certainly seems inevitable. But there are ways to cross the line. At the Yoga at the Great Lawn event, Well+GoodNYC noted, “A single row of Who’s Who yoga teachers like Sadie Nardini, Sarita Lou, andDuncan Wong sat like Adidas-branded Buddhas, all in matching white tanks.” The shiny yoga elite, dressed alike in their branded uniforms… it’s kind of a creepy picture. I wonder, do we have to do this dance? We all know it’s a dance. You really can’t convince me that, other then sponsoring an event with a guaranteed captive audience of 10,000, do these companies embody yogic values?” READ MORE
Culture vulturism is a major American past time that has been globalized, since America at the end of the day truly does not have an authentic culture of its own- well let’s say an authentic culture of its own because Native American culture is not globally recognized as authentic American culture, yet its significance has been chopped up & remixed with cultures of the people who came here both freely & unwillingly to fit the America we know post revolution. American culture as we know it today is built on the accumulation of the people of world cultures who settled in America mostly seeking religious & financial freedom with the right to self expression.
The fashion industry has been the greatest perpetrator of culture vulturism. We have all witnessed the era where Ghana’s beloved kente cloth has been bastardized to underwear & backpacks with made in China labels, completely stripped of its royalty, authenticity & passed down familial cultural significance along with the modern day fashion of turbans & head wraps made fashionable without any respect nor acknowledgement of the culture, religious rituals & history behind it. The ubiquitous wearing of saris & bindis strictly for fashion have all graced the pages & places of fashionable culture without acknowledgment of the cultural significance where it came from. At what point do the keepers of specific cultures protect their culture from losing its significance globally as popular culture, & at what point do those who want to indulge in the cultures of others recognize the difference in respecting culture & popularizing culture into being something outside of its authentic self to serve the personal needs & exploits of those outside of that culture? Even the African religious & cultural rituals of face painting was recently bastardized by Beyonce & L’Officiel as somehow being equivalent to blackface & touted by many as fashiobaly chic, while leaving those of the culture in an uproar.
Global Black culture from music, to fashion has always been the target of culture vultures who have always sought & attained more profit over the selling, exploiting & often times stealing of the culture more than the creators & purveyors of the culture. In this day & age no culture has been more “vulturized” than hip-hop, which somehow has been globalized by many around the world to signify Black American culture that consists of backward baseball hats, sagging pants, saying “yo, yo, yo”, “bitches”, “hoes” & “my Nigga/Nigger”, while cooning & posturing with hand gestures. It seems we forget the fact that paying homage & appreciating global cultures is very different from being vultures of cultures where we strip it of its historical, religious & cultural significance for the sake of capital exploits & creating a new popularized culture. Culture is to be shared, but we must allow it to be done so respectfully or be prepared to be called out for our hypocrisy in our vulturism.